A new study of cannabis compounds and coronavirus by Oregon State University researchers had the Internet ablaze with rumors that weed could ward off Covid-19 infection. Alas, smoking or vaping marijuana does not offer protection against coronavirus—but the study did show that certain cannabinoids found in the cannabis and hemp plants can actually potentially prevent as well as treat Covid infection. These compounds, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) cannot be smoked or vaped — but there are other ways to consume them and potentially improve your defenses against Covid.
How CBDA and CBGA Block Covid Infection
Picture every illustration you’ve seen of the coronavirus. Those menacing-looking barbs sticking out from the circular orb at the center of the virus particle? Those barbs are called spike proteins. As Scripps Research explains, these spikes “act as grappling hooks that allow the virus to latch onto host cells and crack them open for infection” (how’s that for a horrifying image?).
Now, the OSU study’s goal was to zero in on the virus at its starting infection point, where it enters the cell. Researchers found that two cannabinoids—cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and cannabigerolic acid (CBGA)—were able to bind to the virus’s spike proteins. That binding action actually blocked live SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering epithelial cells.
Normally, if a SARS-CoV-2 particle enters your nose or mouth, it floats in the airway until it comes in contact with a cell it can bind to—but if it can’t bind to the cell, it can’t infect you.
CBDA and CBGA stopped Covid particles from getting a foothold to invade cells and reproduce.
Professor of Medicinal Chemistry Dr. Richard B. van Breemen, the leader of the study, told interviewers that “With a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids [CBDA and CBGA]…have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.”
Like vaccination, handwashing, masking and testing, CBDA and CBGA could provide a key weapon in our arsenal of tools for preventing the spread of this terrible disease.
What are CBDA and CBGA, Exactly?
Though not nearly as well known as CBD and THC, CBGA and CBDA are cannabinoids: compounds found in the cannabis and hemp plant. Specifically, they’re cannabinoid acids: the raw form of CBG, THC, CBD and other better-known cannabinoids.
CBGA and CBDA cannot be consumed by smoking or vaping, as heat and light convert them into different compounds (this is why we can’t smoke weed to keep Covid away, as amazing as that sounded). Even the heat used to infuse gummies can change the structure of CBGA and CBDA, rendering them ineffective against Covid particles. The best way to consume CBGA and CBDA is in a softgel or tincture form.
To make sure you get a CBGA-CBDA supplement that isn’t just snake oil, the maker must provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA). COAs are awarded by independent third-party testing companies, and they guarantee that the supplement:
- Contains exactly the ingredients listed on the label
- Contains the amount of the ingredients listed
- Contains no undeclared ingredients or harmful contaminants
Third-party testing is not required by law, but ethical companies will always link to COAs on their website. No COAs or third-party testing? Buy your product elsewhere.
When it comes to CBGA and CBDA supplements, purchase them from an experienced manufacturer who works with cannabinoids and understands how to process them without damaging or overheating them.
New Cannabinoid Discoveries Prove It: We Need More Research
It’s genuinely thrilling that molecules from the humble hemp plant may reduce the risk of catching Covid—but we should have known about it a lot sooner. Unfortunately, because our federal government persists in classifying cannabis alongside cocaine and heroin as a Schedule 1 drug with no known medical value, it’s extremely difficult for scientists to study.
Two years into a pandemic that’s left nearly 1 million Americans dead, this new research is heartening—but it also proves once again the folly of the federal government’s attitude towards marijuana. These CBDA and CBGA discoveries are just one more reason to advocate for legalization, but in the meantime, we’ll be taking CBDA and CBGA supplements. An ounce of prevention against Covid-19 is absolutely worth it.
Robert Johnson is Chief Executive Officer at Custom Capsule Consultants, a leading California white-label supplement manufacturer, and creator of the CBD is Better product line. He has worked as a consultant, product developer, and consumer trend expert in the hemp, cannabis, and supplement spaces since 2008.