Lauren Robertson of Cannabis Scientist recently interviewed Dr. Richard van Breemen about his research on cannabinoids and their ability to block cell entry of Sars-CoV-2.
“It’s been amazing!” says Dr. van Breemen. “All these years we’ve been doing research…” “… but very rarely does a project catch on so globally.” He boasts, “We are currently on 402,000 views for the paper.”
“As you might imagine, people were excited. Very excited.” Ms. Robertson writes about the discovery. “In fact, you may recall reading headlines that claimed smoking weed stops COVID-19. These claims were outlandish – but where there’s smoke, there’s fire (sometimes).”
Dr. van Breemen’s research focused specifically on the role of cannabinoid acids – CBD-A, CBG-A, and THC-A. These are ingredients found, mostly, in the raw plant. And though smoking the flower won’t do much, dietary supplements like raw Cannabis smoothies could be effective.
Van Breemen’s research team used a technique called Affinity Mass Spectrometry to discover that the three cannabinoids inhibited the virus’ spike protein. Then they combined CBD-A and CBG-A with the live virus and found that it blocked the infection of cells.
“I expected some pushback,” said Dr. van Breemen. “But, people really haven’t been criticizing it. I’ve even had phone calls from people to say thank you because they now understand why they didn’t get sick after attending a gathering where everyone else got Covid.”
Dr. van Breemen has been interested in studying natural products as a source for drugs his entire career. He works at the Global Hemp Innovation center at Oregon State University. He got the idea to study Cannabis and Covid-19 after noticing a pattern that the top 10 states with the lowest Covid death rates were all states that had legalized Cannabis His wife, an epidemiologist, pointed out that this pattern had too many confounding variables and that he couldn’t draw any conclusions with confidence. . He also knew that studying Covid would keep his lab open during the pandemic.
During his study, Dr. van Breeman was surprised to find that only the three cannabinoids bound to the spike protein and that the decarboxylated CBD and CBG did not. He pointed out that the lab could only get a small amount of THC-A, not enough to do the live virus test. To get enough THC-A he would have had to apply for a special license.
“Every successful experiment brings up new questions,” says Dr. van Breemen. “There are so many experiments we’d love to do. We are only constrained by regulations and funding.”
I liked this story because it reminds me that there is a lot more to Cannabis than any of us might imagine and that it’s more than just smoking a good “dube”.
Jean Talleyrand, M.D.,