As the world continues to adapt and live with COVID-19, researchers have been investigating various treatments and preventive measures. In a fascinating development, a team of researchers at the University of Chicago has discovered that high-purity cannabidiol (CBD) might help inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus responsible for COVID-19. In this blog post, we delve into the details of this study and discuss the implications of these findings for the future of CBD and COVID-19 research.
The study, published in Science Advances on January 20, 2022, involved an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Chicago. They found that 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.
Initially, the researchers were exploring CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties and their potential impact on the cytokine storm, a dangerous immune system reaction often seen in severe COVID-19 cases. However, they were surprised to discover that CBD directly inhibited viral replication in lung cells.
The researchers treated human lung cells with a non-toxic dose of CBD for two hours before exposing them to SARS-CoV-2. They discovered that, above a certain threshold concentration, CBD inhibited the virus’s ability to replicate. This effect was consistent across different cell types and various SARS-CoV-2 strains.
CBD does not affect the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to enter the cell. Instead, it blocks replication early in the infection cycle and six hours after the virus has already infected the cell. The mechanism by which CBD inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication involves CBD activation of one of the host cell’s stress responses, generating interferons, an antiviral cell protein.
The research team analyzed data from 1,212 patients in the National COVID Cohort Collaborative. They found that patients taking a medically prescribed oral solution of CBD for epilepsy treatment tested positive for COVID-19 at significantly lower rates than a sample of matched patients from similar demographic backgrounds who were not taking CBD.
Implications and Future Directions:
Although COVID-19 is no longer a pandemic, it remains essential to investigate potential treatments and preventive measures. The researchers are calling for clinical trials to determine whether CBD could be used as a preventative or early treatment for COVID-19. The study’s findings do not suggest that consuming commercially available CBD products can prevent COVID-19. High purity, specially formulated doses of CBD are necessary for achieving the COVID-blocking effects observed in the study.
The study’s results are intriguing but require further investigation to determine the precise dosing of CBD effective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans, as well as its safety profile and potential side effects.
With COVID-19 still present, any potential new therapeutics are worth investigating. While CBD is not a substitute for vaccinations and public health measures, the University of Chicago study presents a fascinating avenue for further research. It remains to be seen whether future clinical trials will confirm the potential of CBD as a preventative or early treatment for COVID-19. Until then, it is essential to stay informed, adhere to public health guidelines, and consult with healthcare professionals when considering any form of treatment or prevention.