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CBD and COVID-19: Preliminary Study Shows Promise for Hemp Growers


May 23, 2020
Category: Hemp

A preliminary study published by a research team in Canada shows promise for hemp growers. It appears that high-CBD extracts from Cannabis sativa can down-regulate production of the receptors that allow the entry of SARS-CoV2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) into host cells. The development of easy-to-use preventative treatments containing CBD could be on the horizon if peer reviews and further studies substantiate these early findings.

Since journal articles can be difficult to wade through, we’ve broken down a few important takeaways from this study for hemp growers.

This Is an Early Study

The article makes it clear that this is an early study that warrants further testing, so don’t pass it around touting CBD as a cure for COVID-19!

The gist of the study is this: ACE2 enzymes and proteins (expressed in lung tissue, oral and nasal mucosa, GI tract, etc.) are the known gateway for entry of the virus that causes COVID-19. Modulation of ACE2 levels may be a preventative treatment to reduce susceptibility to the virus. Early tests on artificial human 3D models have shown that certain high-CBD extracts may indeed effectively modulate the expression of ACE2.


What Do the Extracts Look Like?

CBD THC affect ACE2 expression COVID-19

Based on this table from the article, the extracts from these hemp plants fall within the normal range of COAs that we’ve seen in real life, growing under the current USDA guidelines. The CBD levels are not off-the-charts, and of the strains shown to affect ACE2 expression (those in red), half are within legal compliance of THC.

One important thing the article states is that the other cannabinoids and terpenes present in hemp could work together with CBD to create a powerful “entourage effect,” causing some varieties to work more effectively at lowering ACE2 than others. This is important for two reasons:

  1. Not all hemp strains are created equal. Some are ineffective or have negative molecular effects. Further testing is needed to discover which of the useful strains are most effective.
  2. Whole flower extracts may be more potent than single compounds.

Another important point is that these tests are modeled for medical delivery and cannot be applied to cannabis smoking. On the contrary, because “tobacco smoking increases ACE2 levels and exacerbates clinical outcomes of COVID-19,” the study warns that the effects of cannabis smoking must be carefully investigated.

Hope for the Hemp Market

Given ongoing testing for the anti-inflammatory impact of CBD and the current promise that it might offer a preventative treatment for COVID-19, we are confident that CBD will continue to have a place in the market. We’ll be on the lookout for future studies that put these findings to the test on a large scale, with hopes that we can help provide something of benefit to our communities in the midst of this current crisis.