In recent years, CBD has taken the alternative therapy and natural remedy market by storm. CBD oil, in particular, is receiving much attention as a potential treatment for a range of physical ailments, such as chronic pain, to mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression. But how effective is it in dealing with a virus?
New research highlights the ability of CBD to lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and possibly be advantageous in hindering the spread of the virus. We digest the research for you and explore whether CBD can block COVID.
Does CBD block COVID?
The latest research suggests that CBD, and a compound that is produced after our bodies process CBD, can be effective in blocking COVID at the early and late stages of the infection. Importantly, this was not the case with other cannabinoids, such as THC, which is responsible for producing the psychoactive component of cannabis, i.e making you feel high. Only CBD was an influential agent. Combining CBD with THC actually reduced CBD’s antiviral effect.
The study also compared people with a medical record of seizures who took CBD against those who had not, and found that the COVID positivity rate in those taking CBD was 4.9% compared with 9% among those not taking it. In other words, those taking CBD for epilepsy tested positive for COVID at lower rates. Although the authors note, the differences cannot be ruled out as being due to an unknown variable between the two groups that may influence their risk of COVID exposure.
In another study, CBD has been shown to prevent the virus from entering cells. Other cannabis-derived compounds, Cannabidiolic acid and cannabigerolic acid may bind to coronavirus spike proteins and block the virus from entering cells. Although, these compounds may not be effectively metabolised to work in living organisms and the study used cells in a petri dish. Therefore, studies with human or animal participants are needed.
Although, there is some evidence to the contrary. In a study in Brazil, 105 patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 were prescribed CBD or a placebo for 14 days. According to the researchers, there was no effect found of the CBD. Although, these results may be due to the limitations of the study’s method. Further research is required among patients with severe CBD and using higher doses, which may produce different results.
CBD may block COVID but not store-bought
However, whilst very encouraging, these findings should not be taken as CBD prevents or treats COVID. Rather, cannabis-based remedies may be a useful tool in your arsenal in the fight against COVID-19.
“Maybe you’re in a hot spot or you think you might have been exposed or you’ve just tested positive—that’s where we think CBD might have an effect.” Dr Rosner, one of the study’s authors has commented.
The researchers also stress the importance of the study having been done using high quality, high strength and purity CBD. A large, concentrated dose of the compound is needed.
Commercial CBD products are often low quality, with dubious claims about their purity therefore, we suggest caution be taken over where and how you are sourcing your CBD. See our guide on why CBD is so expensive, for some advice.
“Going to your corner bakery and buying some CBD muffins or gummy bears probably won’t do anything”, Rosner comments.
Further research is also needed on living beings, rigorous clinical trials with humans are needed to confirm whether CBD has antiviral effects against COVID-19 and specify the dosage of CBD that is effective and delineate any potential side effects.
How does CBD block COVID?
CBD does not keep COVID from infecting the cells in our body, but rather soon after the virus enters the cells, it can block the virus from making copies of itself.
It is thought that one of the ways CBD does this is by the actioning of the host cell stress response.
Another way is through the interferon signalling pathway. COVID-19 suppresses the interferon signalling pathway. Interferons are proteins that form a part of our innate immune response to exposure to pathogens (viruses). They are part of our body’s natural defences, alerting our immune system that germs are present and triggering immune cells to fight out the infection or disease. The research found that in the presence of the virus, genes in the interferon pathway are highly induced by CBD. In other words, CBD helps to bring about an immune fighting response.
Can CBD block COVID?
Overall, CBD may help prevent infections. Although there are differences between the medical-grade CBD used in the studies and what is commercially available. Therefore, at best, it can be a useful part of your general health routine, to give your body the best chance of staying well and not getting infected. It is still necessary to take precautions, such as wearing a mask and following existing medical guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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Disclaimer: Despite the general safety of CBD products, minimal side effects can occur, especially at the first use. Contact your medical professional for advice.