People looking for COVID answers may find some solace in recent reports suggesting cannabis could be an effective treatment. Apparently, a recently published study suggests that synthetic cannabinoids could either prevent or treat a COVID-19 infection. Experts are warning companies in the cannabis industry not to jump the gun. Likewise, consumers should be very wary of any forthcoming industry claims of cannabis being an effective COVID option.
The study in question comes out of Oregon State University, where researchers identified two cannabinoids they claim can prevent coronavirus from infecting cells. The cannabinoids in question are cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).
As you can imagine, the ink had barely dried on the research before some manufacturers in the unregulated CBD market began talking about it. Discussing the research is one thing; using it to push CBD – or any cannabis product, for that matter – as a COVID treatment is irresponsible at best.
1. More About the ECS
Cannabinoids affect the human body based on their interaction with the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is highly involved in regulating multiple biological functions in human beings. So it is really not surprising that some cannabinoids could impact how coronavirus does what it does.
Apparently, Oregon State University researchers used chemical analysis to determine that CBGA and CBDA can prevent coronavirus from penetrating cell walls. Without being able to get into cells, the virus cannot do its damage. This would suggest that the cannabinoids could be an effective preventative treatment.
However, this is just one study. As with just about everything else in the medical field, decisions are not made based on one set of research data. Further studies to confirm the original data are necessary. If subsequent studies prove the Oregon State University research accurate, then we have something to look at. But subsequent studies could produce conflicting data.
2. Too Early to Tell
The bottom line here is that it is too early to tell whether cannabinoids can head off coronavirus infection or more effectively help an infected person recover. We just don’t know enough about how the endocannabinoid system might influence coronavirus behavior. Even if the recently published research proves correct, we might not necessarily know why cannabinoids prevent infection. That is something else we would need to investigate before recommending CBD or CBG as a COVID treatment.
The unfortunate thing is that limited amounts of study data are often utilized to promote questionable therapies and products. Anyone who is familiar with the health supplement market knows all too well that limited research is easily manipulated. It doesn’t take much to encourage a manufacturer or distributor to latch on to such data and use it to push their products
3. Let Science Do the Work
Utahmarijuana.org is a medical organization that helps patients in Utah obtain or renew their medical cannabis cards. They say that research into cannabis’ medical benefits has been severely lacking thus far. That is largely due to federal law. Nonetheless, they also say that it is in everyone’s best interests to let science do the work. There is no point in jumping the gun on a treatment that has almost no study data to back up its efficacy.
In the coming months You may see advertisements for COVID treatments based on cannabinoids like CBD and CBG. You might also see pro-cannabis advocates citing the Oregon State University research as proof that cannabis fights COVID. Resist the urge to believe everything you read or hear. A single study does not make for scientific fact. All it does is demonstrate the need for further study.