CBD as Potential Treatment for COVID-19
Recently, a study was conducted by a team of researchers in Illinois at the Rosner Lab at the University of Chicago to analyze if cannabidiol could be a potential treatment for COVID-19. In March 2021 Rosner Lab released their latest findings with evidence demonstrating the inhibiting effect of CBD on the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This study highlights CBD and its active metabolite as potential preventative agents and therapeutic treatments for SARS-CoV-2 in the early stages of infection.
Why Was This Study Conducted?
With a wide and rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 across the globe, researchers began to look for alternative ways to reduce the spread and effects of COVID-19. Colleagues at Rosner Lab say that the fact that the virus is still spreading even with the rollout of vaccines highlights the need for alternative approaches. This is especially true for populations with limited access to vaccines.
What Did the Study Involve?
The SARS-CoV-2 virus enters host cells via the binding of a surface viral protein to the human host cell receptor ‘angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2). To test the effect of CBD on SARS-CoV-2 replication, researchers at Rosner Lab pretreated A549 human lung carcinoma cells expressing exogenous human ACE-2 receptors for 2 hours with CBD, before infecting them with SARS-CoV-2. Then after 48 hours had passed, they monitored and analyzed the cells to see if the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 had been inhibited.
Overall, the researchers at Rosner Lab have concluded that they have evidence that CBD inhibits the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In addition to that, they have also released some key findings broken down in simpler terms for the public to understand:
- After viral entry, CBD acts to block virus replication.
- CBD has the potential to not only act as an antiviral agent in the early stages of infection but also protect the host against an overactive immune system during the late stages.
- CBD inhibiting replication of at least one other coronavirus raises the possibility that it may also inhibit other human coronaviruses that could arise in the future.
- 7-OH-CBD (a metabolite of CBD) is an effective inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2.
- Analysis of participants taking FDA-approved CBD showed up to ten times a decreased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to a set of control participants.
Although these findings represent a significant process in the alternative treatment of COVID-19, there are still “several issues that require close examination before CBD can be considered or even explored as a therapeutic for COVID-19”. For example, it appears that the presence of THC may counteract the antiviral efficacy of CBD. And of course, other concerns would need to be addressed, such as the means of administration like smoking or vaping that could potentially cause lung damage. In short, further studies would be needed to determine optimal methods of delivery, and clinical trials should be performed to test the promise of CBD as a therapeutic for SARS-CoV-2.
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