With the passage of the Farm Bill legalizing hemp and hemp derived products including CBD as well as with some states legalizing all cannabis varieties, the scientific community is starting to conduct meaningful research into cannabinoids.
This blog covers recent papers that have come out looking at the relationship between cannabinoids and COVID-19.
Richard B. van Breemen et. al. just published a fascinating paper in the Journal of Natural Products entitled "Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants." (1) This research found that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein has an affinity for certain cannabinoids found only in full spectrum hemp oils. If true, any virus that binds with cannabinoids can't simultaneously bind with, penetrate and infect a cell. This is exciting research but needs to be validated.
I just found Onaivi and Sharma's work entitled "Cannabis for COVID-19: Can cannabinoids quell the cytokine storm?" (2) Onaiva and Sharma argue that cannabinoids are promising compounds that can reduce inflammation. I suspect they are correct but missing why this may be true.
In my blog on the Eicosanoid System we covered the concept that CBD is a precursor to arachidonic acid. Arachidonic Acid in turn combines with Omega 6 and Omega 3 to signal our immune system to start and stop our response to an infection. Modern diets have plenty of Omega 6 but lack Omega 3 fatty acids. In this case, the body is really good at starting the inflammatory response but not so good at turning it off. Increasing CBD intake (along with Omega 3) restores your body’s ability reduce inflammation.
Wang et. al. recently published in the journal Aging their work looking at the relationship between CBD and the ACE2 Enzyme.
ACE2 is produced to downward regulate our blood pressure. This enzyme is widely found in lung tissue and the oral and nasal mucus.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 figured out how manipulate the ACE2 enzyme to enter and infect the underlying cell. COVID spreads by transmission through the air. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they produce droplets containing the virus that are inhaled by those nearby. The virus quickly finds the ACE2 enzymes in the lung walls and gets to work.
Wang et. al. observed that CBD reduced the amount of ACE2 expression in lung cells suggesting a possible pathway for CBD to be used as an adjunct COVID-19 treatment. Quite frankly, I am not sure how this would work as we need ACE2 to prevent our blood pressure from rising out of control and doing damage. What is the right balance between lowing the risk of infection vs. lowering the risk of damage from high blood pressure? More to follow.
The bottom line?
While these results are encouraging, the research is still way too early for any sound conclusions to be reached.
In the meantime, I am fully vaccinated and got my booster. I wear masks when needed and am taking Eicosadose every day to boost my immune system's ability to fight off any new COVID variants circulating out there.
(1) J. Nat. Prod. 2022, XXXX, XXX, XXX-XXX
Publication Date:January 10, 2022
(2) FUTURE SCIENCE OAVOL. 6, NO. 8
Published 12:Aug 2020. https://doi.org/10.2144/fsoa-2020-0124