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Cbd oil for virus

Researchers recommend clinical trials for CBD to prevent COVID-19 based on promising animal data

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Chicago has found evidence that cannabidiol (CBD), a product of the cannabis plant, can inhibit infection by SARS-CoV-2 in human cells and in mice.

The study, published on January 20, 2022, in Science Advances, found CBD showed a significant negative association with SARS-CoV-2 positive tests in a national sample of medical records of patients taking the FDA-approved drug for treating epilepsy. The researchers now say that clinical trials should be done to determine whether CBD could eventually be used as a preventative or early treatment for COVID-19. They caution, however, that the COVID-blocking effects of CBD come only from a high purity, specially formulated dose taken in specific situations. The study’s findings do not suggest that consuming commercially available products with CBD additives that vary in potency and quality can prevent COVID-19.

Scientists have been looking for new therapies for people infected by the coronavirus and emerging variants, especially those who lack access to vaccines, as the pandemic continues across the country and world and as breakthrough infections become more common.

CBD: An unexpected avenue for fighting COVID-19

The idea to test CBD as a potential COVID-19 therapeutic was serendipitous. “CBD has anti-inflammatory effects, so we thought that maybe it would stop the second phase of COVID infection involving the immune system, the so-called ‘cytokine storm.’ Surprisingly, it directly inhibited viral replication in lung cells,” said Marsha Rosner, PhD, Charles B. Huggins Professor in the Ben May Department of Cancer Research and a senior author of the study.

To see this effect, the researchers first treated human lung cells with a non-toxic dose of CBD for two hours before exposing the cells to SARS-CoV-2 and monitoring them for the virus and the viral spike protein. They found that, above a certain threshold concentration, CBD inhibited the virus’ ability to replicate. Further investigation found that CBD had the same effect in two other types of cells and for three variants of SARS-CoV-2 in addition to the original strain.

CBD did not affect the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to enter the cell. Instead, CBD was effective at blocking replication early in the infection cycle and six hours after the virus had already infected the cell.

Like all viruses, SARS-CoV-2 affects the host cell by hijacking its gene expression machinery to produce more copies of itself and its viral proteins. This effect can be observed by tracking virus-induced changes in cellular RNAs. High concentrations of CBD almost completely eradicated the expression of viral RNAs. It was a completely unexpected result.

“We just wanted to know if CBD would affect the immune system,” Rosner said. “No one in their right mind would have ever thought that it blocked viral replication, but that’s what it did.”

The researchers showed that the mechanism by which CBD blocks SARS-CoV-2 replication involves CBD activation of one of the host cell stress responses and generation of interferons, an antiviral cell protein.

Real world data: Patients taking CBD test positive for COVID-19 at lower rates

The researchers wanted scientific data to show that CBD prevents viral replication in live animals. The team showed pretreatment with CBD for one week prior to infection with SARS-CoV-2 suppressed infection both in the lung and the nasal passages of mice. “These results provide major support for a clinical trial of CBD in humans,” said Rosner.

And the success of CBD wasn’t limited to the laboratory: An analysis of 1,212 patients from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative revealed that patients taking a medically prescribed oral solution of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy tested positive for COVID-19 at significantly lower rates than a sample of matched patients from similar demographic backgrounds who were not taking CBD.

The potential for CBD to treat patients recently exposed to or infected by SARS-CoV-2 does not precede the first lines of defense against COVID-19, which are to get vaccinated and follow existing public health guidelines for masking in indoor spaces and social distancing. But the published results offer a potential new therapeutic, something still needed as the pandemic rages on.

“A clinical trial is necessary to determine whether CBD is really effective at preventing or suppressing SARS-CoV-2 infection, but we think this may have potential as a prophylactic treatment,” said Rosner. “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.”

Not your dispensary’s CBD

The research team emphasized that the COVID-blocking effects of CBD were confined strictly to high purity, high concentrations of CBD. Closely related cannabinoids such as CBDA, CBDV and THC, the psychoactive element enriched in marijuana plants, did not have the same power. In fact, combining CBD with equal amounts of THC actually reduced the efficacy of CBD.

“Going to your corner bakery and buying some CBD muffins or gummy bears probably won’t do anything,” said Rosner. “The commercially available CBD powder we looked at, which was off the shelf and something you could order online, was sometimes surprisingly of high purity but also of inconsistent quality. It is also hard to get into an oral solution that can be absorbed without the special, FDA-approved formulation,” Rosner said.

Furthermore, CBD use is not without potential risks. It appears to be extremely safe when consumed in food or drink, but methods of use such as vaping can have negative side effects, including potential damage to the heart and lungs. It’s also not well studied in certain populations, such as pregnant people, and so should be used only under the supervision of a physician and with caution.

While the study’s results are exciting, additional study is needed to determine the precise dosing of CBD that is effective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans as well as its safety profile and any potential side effects.

“We are very eager to see some clinical trials on this subject get off the ground,” Rosner said. “Especially as we are seeing that the pandemic is still nowhere near the end — determining whether this generally safe, well-tolerated, and non-psychoactive cannabinoid might have anti-viral effects against COVID-19 is of critical importance.”

Rosner was also pleased that this research project was a case study in the power of scientific collaboration by bringing together a highly interdisciplinary group of researchers. Senior authors listed on the paper came from three different research universities and from departments as diverse as microbiology, molecular engineering, cancer biology and chemistry.

“This was truly a team-science effort, and that’s something that really excites me,” said Rosner. “From clinicians to David Meltzer’s group who did the patient analysis to virologists like Glenn Randall, and it goes on and on. This is the way science should be carried out.”

The study, “Cannabidiol Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 Replication through Induction of the Host ER Stress and Innate Immune Responses,” was supported by a BIG Vision grant from the University of Chicago, the National Institutes of Health (R01 GM121735, R01 CA184494, R01 AI137514, R01 AI127518, R01 AI134980, R01 CA219815, R35 GM119840, P30 CA014599), and the Harry B. and Leona M Helmsley Charitable Trust. Additional authors include Long Chi Nguyen, Dongbo Yang, Thomas J. Best, Nir Drayman, Adil Mohamed, Christopher Dann, Diane Silva, Lydia Robinson-Mailman, Andrea Valdespino, Letícia Stock, Eva Suárez, Krysten A. Jones, Saara-Anne Azizi, James Michael Millis, Bryan C. Dickinson, Savaş Tay, Scott A. Oakes, and David O. Meltzer of the University of Chicago; Vlad Nicolaescu, Haley Gula, and Glenn Randall of UChicago and Argonne National Laboratory; Divayasha Saxena, Jon D. Gabbard, Jennifer K. Demarco, William E. Severson, Charles D. Anderson, and Kenneth E. Palmer of the University of Louisville; Shao-Nong Chen, Takashi Ohtsuki, John Brent Friesen, and Guido F. Pauli of the University of Illinois at Chicago; and the National COVID Cohort Collaborative Consortium.

New Study: Cannabis Compound CBD May Potentially Prevent, Fight COVID-19 Infection

Smoking marijuana will not protect you from the novel coronavirus, no matter what anyone says and no matter how much certain people want it to be true.

However, if taken in the right way and at the right amount, the cannabis compound CBD might lessen the severity of COVID-19 infection and even prevent the virus’s spread, new research published this week found.

What’s more, new anecdotal evidence suggests that people—not lab mice, and not isolated human cells, but human beings—who were prescribed regular high-potency doses of pharmaceutical-grade CBD were less likely to contract COVID, according to research published Thursday in the journal Science Advances.

“Our research suggest that CBD and its metabolite 7-OH-CBD,” which is a compound produced after the body processes CBD, “can block SARS-Cov-2 infection at early and even later stages of infection,” wrote the researchers, led by academics at the University of Chicago.

LONGMONT, CO. October 10, – Janea Cox, director of the Flowering H.O.P.E. Foundation bottles . [+] high-potency CBD oil.

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Thursday’s findings come on the heels of research published last week that found cannibidiolic acid—or CBD-A, the precursor molecule to CBD, as well as other similar cannabis acids that become the familiar cannabinoids when heated—prevented the entry of the coronavirus into isolated human cells.

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Taken together, these findings are fueling a misconception that smoking cannabis or taking over-the-counter CBD drops are a useful tool against COVID. They’re not.

What the findings may mean that cannabis-derived medicines or preparations might supplement vaccines in the struggle to end the nearly two-year-long COVID-19 pandemic.

But—and researchers cannot stress this enough—what it does not mean is that smoking a joint treats COVID. And your over-the-counter CBD drops won’t, either.

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 6: CBD oil products on display at the Southern Hemp Expo at the Williamson . [+] County Agricultural Exposition Park in Franklin, TN on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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In interviews, researchers highlighted both the potential significance of their work as well as its limitations.

“As a bottom line, what this says is that CBD has the potential to prevent infections, such as breakthrough infections, which might be one of the most useful applications,” as Marsha Rosner, a professor of cancer research at the University of Chicago and a lead study author, said in an interview with VICE’s Motherboard vertical.

However, as the researchers wrote, the findings were limited to just CBD—and just to certain high-grade CBD preparations that deliver a very large dose of the compound.

“Going to your corner bakery and buying some CBD muffins or gummy bears probably won’t do anything,” Rosner said in a news release.

And nothing in the study indicates CBD is a replacement for existing preventative measures, such as masking and vaccinations—both of which the researchers hope people continue to do.

“What we don’t want,” she added, “is people just running out and thinking, ‘I can take CBD, and then I don’t have to get vaccinated or I don’t have to be masked.”

“This is what we really don’t want to see.”

HANOI, VIETNAM – JANUARY 31: People wear face mask while visiting a temple on the seventh day of . [+] Lunar New Year celebration on January 31, 2020 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Vietnam confirmed three new cases of the coronavirus on January 30, making the overall number of reported victims to five. W.H.O. declares the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency on the same day. (Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images)

Rosner and her colleagues treated human lung cells with CBD prior to infecting them with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And they found that “CBD potently inhibited viral replication under non-toxic conditions,” they wrote, adding that other cannabinoids, including “psychoactive THC,” did not do this.

“Remarkably,” they wrote, “only CBD was a potent agent.”

How did CBD do this? The cannabinoid appears to activate a cellular stress response normally triggered in the presence of “viruses or other pathogens,” as Rosner said in a phone interview on Friday. This stress response produces a series of proteins called interferons. And

“CBD induces the production of interferons, and they are the antivirals that will fight the virus,” Rosner said.

CBD also prevented the virus from making other changes to infected host cells.

But cells are cells—they’re not living beings. To test the findings on living beings—something last week’s study did not do—female mice were given two loads of CBD: 20 or 80 mg per kilogram of body weight.

That’s a fairly substantial dose that could be exorbitantly expensive: A 150-pound person would have to take a heroic 5,440 milligrams of CBD to match the mice—and some companies sell 10,000 milligrams, or less than two doses, for $250.

Nevertheless, some will argue that’s money and CBD well spent.

According to the researchers, mice that took 80 milligrams of CBD per kilo of weight saw decreases of viral loads in the lungs and the nose up to “40- and 4.8-fold.”

And, finally, there is some evidence that these mice and test-tube studies will translate to people.

Epidiolex is a CBD-based pharmaceutical drug approved for prescription by the federal Food and Drug Administration for patients with severe seizure disorder.

A review of 1,212 patients in a dataset called the National COVID Cohort Collaborative revealed showed that the COVID infection rate among people with a “medication record” of taking pharmaceutical-grade CBD was 6.2 percent, compared to 8.9 percent for people not taking CBD, the researchers wrote.

But CBD’s preventative potential was even more pronounced for people who took CBD the same day as their COVID-19 tests. For a subset of 531 patients “who were likely taking” 100 milligrams of CBD, their positivity rate was 4.9 percent, compared to rate of 9 percent among a control group not taking the drug.

Going forward, Rosner and her colleagues are hoping that clinical trials with humans can begin—and begin soon, as the pandemic grinds on through historic-high levels of infections and hospitalizations, a dreadful winter spike fueled by the omicron variant.

“We are very eager to see some clinical trials on this subject get off the ground,” Rosner told the University of Chicago’s news service.

“Especially as we are seeing that the pandemic is still nowhere near the end,” she added, “determining whether this generally safe, well-tolerated, and non-psychoactive cannabinoid might have anti-viral effects against COVID-19 is of critical importance.”