Ontario university study shows CBD may offer some protection against COVID-19

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A new study by researchers from the University of Waterloo shows that synthetic cannabidiol (CBD) may help offer some protection against COVID-19.

The University of Waterloo says that the study, Cannabidiol and the anti-viral response to SARS-CoV-2 proteins, showed that the non-psychoactive compound, which is also found in the cannabis plant, “appears to prime the innate immune system of cells, potentially offering protection against pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2.”

The school says its researchers discovered that CBD increases the cell’s response to several key proteins produced by the coronavirus genome. It says the effect had not been discovered prior to the study.

The university says that the researchers looked at how the proteins from the genome operated in human kidney cells and healthy control cells, both with and without CBD.

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“When cells in the lungs or the digestive tract are infected with a virus, they have an ability to sense and respond, even before the immune system notices a virus is present,” said Prof. Robin Duncan, who was the lead investigator in the study.

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“They do this by activating innate responses inside of cells, which form the first line of defence. In the case of COVID-19, however, this response isn’t very good, which has contributed to high infection rates.”

She says that with a virus like COVID-19, the cells would normally kick-start an internal system that would shred the virus, while also killing the cells before they really can dig in.

“This could stop an infection, or slow its spread in the body or to others,” Duncan explained.

“When we combined CBD with these viral proteins, they had a much better ability to activate this system and to activate apoptosis.”

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She went on to note that in cells that had not been previously exposed to the coronavirus, therapeutic amounts of CBD seemed to increase the cells’ preparedness to respond to viral infections.

Maria Fernandes, who performed the cell studies, said, “This suggests CBD at the right dose could help cells be in a better state of readiness to respond to a virus, but it doesn’t cause a response unless there is a need.”

Duncan pointed to a U.S. study to back her own, noting that it showed that epilepsy patients who used a high-dose pharmaceutical CBD had around a 10-fold lower risk of testing positive for COVID-19.

She pointed out that CBD does not cause a high, as THC does, which makes the drug more useful.

The school says the study, which has been pre-peer reviewed, is currently under review in the Journal of Life sciences.

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