A study indicates that two cannabinoids present in marijuana, CBD and CBG, block the spike protein that the virus uses to infect cells, even in new variants.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 infects the body’s cells using a spearhead-shaped protein, the spike protein, to penetrate the cell wall. In people who have been vaccinated or who have overcome the disease, their bodies produce antibodies that adhere to the spike protein and prevent the virus from entering cells. According Oregon State University research, two cannabinoids present in marijuana can have a similar effect.
Scientists have discovered that two cannabinoid acids are able to bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, blocking the infection. These are cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA.
Cannabinoids derived from these acids do not have the psychotropic effects like THC, another cannabinoid found in marijuana, which is still a controlled substance in many countries. CBD and CBG are highly safe in humans. Both proved effective against different variants of SARS-CoV-2, including the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the UK, and the B.1.351 variant, first detected in South Africa, which we know as alpha and beta, respectively.
The use of compounds that block the virus-receptor interaction has been helpful for patients with other viral infections, he notes, such as HIV-1 and hepatitis. In subsequent research, laboratory tests showed that cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid prevented the infection of human epithelial cells by the coronavirus spike protein. These acids are the precursors to the cannabinoids themselves, CBD and CBG.
According to the researchers, CBDA and CBGA are effective against the two tested variants and they hope that they will also be effective against other existing and future variants. They also point out that cannabinoid treatments are not a replacement for vaccines, but that “the combination of vaccination and CBDA/CBGA treatment should make SARS-CoV-2 infection very difficult.”