Cannabis sativa is widely used for medical purposes and has anti-inflammatory activity.
In a study undergoing peer review, the CBD compound from cannabis has been found to stop COVID-19 replication in lung epithelial cells, suggesting the plant medicine holds yet another astounding quality.
Given that CBD preparations containing substantial amounts of CBD are taken by a large number of individuals, we examined whether CBD exposure might correlate to a decreased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Analysis of over 93,000 patients tested for SARS-CoV-2 at the University of Chicago Medical Center showed that 10.0% tested positive overall, but only 5.7% of the ~400 who had any cannabinoid in their medical record tested positive. Patients taking CBD versus other cannabinoids had an even lower rate of testing positive (1.2% in 85 CBD patients versus 7.1% in 113 patients taking other cannabinoids, p=0.08). This finding that patients taking other cannabinoids had less protection against viral infection is consistent with our cell culture studies. Since multiple potential confounding factors could explain these findings, including age, race, clinical morbidities, and sex, we matched 82 patients who were prescribed oral, FDA-approved CBD (Epidiolex®) before COVID-19 testing to patients who had no indication of taking any cannabinoids but had comparable other characteristics including similar demographic characteristics, clinical comorbidities, and records of other medications in the two years before COVID-19 testing (table S1). Of the patients prescribed oral CBD before their COVID-19 test, the most common morbidity categories were hypertension and conditions with immunosuppression. Strikingly, only 1.2% of the patients prescribed CBD contracted SARS-CoV-2 whereas 12.2% of the matched, non-cannabinoid patients tested positive (p=0.009), suggesting a potential reduction in SARS-CoV-2 infection risk of approximately an order of magnitude.Cannabidiol Inhibits SARS-CoV-2 Replication and Promotes the Host Innate Immune Response – 3/1/2021
Here are the findings of this study:
- CBD users had a significantly lower infection rate
- CBD inhibited the expression of certain genes within the viral cells
- CBD reversed changes in gene expression within the COVID-19 infected lung cells
- CBD blocked viral RNA expression, including the spike protein
- CBD effectively reversed the triggering of a cytokine storm
“We advocate carefully designed placebo-controlled clinical trials with known concentrations and highly-characterized formulations in order to define CBD’s role in preventing and treating early SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the authors recommend.
A preprint of the study is available in the journal Bio RXIV while it goes under peer review.
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