Cannabis compounds in hemp may prevent COVID-19, study finds


FILE – In this July 2, 2019, file photo, Darren Johnson, a hemp processor, holds raw hemp that will be used to make CBD oil at his processing facility, Wasatch Extraction, in Salt Lake City. A Utah group that led the push to get medical marijuana legalized in Utah launched a new project with marijuana pharmacies in the state Tuesday, April 20, 2021 to get certain people discounted rates on pot. They say they’re doing it because people can’t use health insurance to pay for it. (AP Photo/Morgan Smith, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Compounds found naturally occurring in cannabis may be able to prevent a COVID-19 infection, according to a study by researchers at Oregon State University.

Cannabinoid acids from hemp were able to block the virus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, from entering human epithelial cells, the researchers said.

Epithelial cells “are a barrier between the inside and outside of your body and are often the first place that is attacked by viruses,” according to Ask A Biologist.

Researchers used a pseudovirus expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and tested how it reacts to the cannabis compounds called cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).

These compounds found in hemp were equally effective against the alpha and beta variants, according to the study which was was published in the Journal of Natural Products on Monday.

The researchers said CBGA and CBDA can be taken orally and have “a long history of safe human use.”

Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, but have different uses and legal statuses based on the presence of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Cannabis that has less than 0.3 percent of THC is considered hemp, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while cannabis with a THC level exceeding 0.3 percent is considered marijuana.

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