Compounds in hemp (Cannabis Sativa) have been found to block the infection of Covid-19, according to new research from the United States.

But that doesn’t mean you should smoke a joint or eat edibles instead of getting the vaccine, an expert says. 

Researchers from Oregon State University did lab tests to see what impact cannabidiol (CBD) compounds from hemp had on the Coronavirus SARS-CoV2 spike proteins that cause infection. 

The study, led by Richard van Breeman and published on January 10, found that two compounds from cannabis extracts or hemp extracts, cannabidiolic acid and cannabigerolic acid, had the ability to block or compete for the receptors of Covid-19 proteins. 

This means that the compounds react with the same part of the human body (receptors) that the coronavirus attempts to infect, making it no longer accessible to the virus. 

Pharmacist and medicinal cannabis expert, Dr Ali Seyfoddin, the lead researcher of the Drug Delivery Research Group at Auckland University of Technology, said the compounds looked at in the overseas research were in their acidic form. 

This means they can’t be absorbed by the human body, Seyfoddin said. 

“That's the reason why we smoke or heat cannabis because that heating converts the acidic form to a decarboxylated form that can be absorbed, but that still will mean that they won't have any effect on Covid-19,” Seyfoddin said.

As the study is only at the lab test stage, more research and testing needs to be done to develop an effective oral treatment for humans, he said.

Seyfoddin did not recommend anyone use Cannabis products as a treatment for Covid-19

“Even with current edible products, they heat it to activate it. 

“So as soon as you heat the cannabis, you convert them to the decarboxylated form which will have no effect on Covid-19, so don't try it at home.“ 

People who might be thinking of smoking a couple of joints or eating edibles instead of getting the vaccination should stop, he said.

“If that's the thinking, I think that should be avoided. This is the first in vitro study and it hasn't really proved anything in vivo yet.”

Dr Tim Cutfield, a clinician at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital, said the overseas research showed promise for future treatment.

“As a clinician, we're always just looking for affordable, tolerable, safe medications that can improve clinical outcomes for people who are infected with Covid-19,” Cutfield said

However, this is only the first step in the authors’ discovery journey, he said.

“What the authors have demonstrated is that some of the compounds appear to have in vitro activity at reducing cellulite entry of SARS-CoV2 virus. 

“It's not clear what the levels are required to have efficacy achievable in humans,” Cutfield said.

“The best thing is not to get sick with Covid-19 at all and I would strongly recommend vaccination as by far the most effective therapeutic agent we have. Prevention is better than a cure.”

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