Cannabidiol, a compound derived from marijuana, appears to show promise in blocking replication of the COVID-19 virus and preventing its spread, lab and animal studies show.
CBD inhibited the ability of the coronavirus to spread in human lung cell samples, and also suppressed COVID-19 infection in the lungs and nasal passages of lab mice. Although research in animals doesn’t always pan out in humans, the success of cannabidiol may not be limited to the lab.
People taking Epidiolex — a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved form of cannabidiol used to treat epilepsy — tested positive for COVID-19 at significantly lower rates than those not prescribed the drug, researchers report.
Can CBD be effective against COVID?
But don’t rush out to your local dispensary just yet — researchers got these results using a highly purified cannabidiol powder.
The sort of CBD oil you’d buy at your local cannabis shop won’t contain a high enough concentration of the compound to make any difference, explains lead researcher Marsha Rich Rosner, a professor of cancer research at the University of Chicago.
“We had a vision of people going to take CBD and saying, ‘OK, now I don’t need to be vaccinated, now I don’t need a mask.’ That’s not the case,” Rosner says. “We’re not saying ever that you should substitute CBD for vaccination or any of the other precautions.”
Instead, Rosner and her colleagues are calling for human clinical trials to determine the dosage of purified cannabidiol that might help treat a new COVID-19 infection.
“We are actually suggesting that a trial be done similar to what you might do with vaccines, either as a preventive trial or an early-stage treatment after you’ve been tested,” Rosner notes.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in Baltimore, agreed that the treatment is promising but needs more research.
How could cannabidiol potentially help fight off COVID?
Rosner called her group’s discovery regarding CBD’s potential as a COVID fighter “complete serendipity.” She’s a cancer biologist, and knew about cannabidiol because of its anti-inflammatory effects.
Since most of the damage done by a COVID-19 infection stems from the human immune system’s overreaction to