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Oregon State University Research: Hemp Compounds Prevent Coronavirus From Entering Human Cells
Bethesda Health and Wellness
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Oregon State University Research: Hemp Compounds Prevent Coronavirus From Entering Human Cells

Oregon State University Research: Hemp Compounds Prevent Coronavirus From Entering Human Cells

Hemp is a dominant species in the cannabis plant, and it can be separated into both male and female plants. These plants have served a wide variety of purposes for more than 10,000 years. We get fiber from the plant’s stems, protein from the seeds, oils from the leaves, and oils from the smokable flowers. Hemp fibers can be used to make items including paper, clothing, textiles, rope as well as building materials.

Hemp vs. Marijuana – Are They The Same?

Hemp and marijuana (THC) are both derived from the cannabis plant; however, while marijuana comes from both the cannabis indica or cannabis sativa plant, hemp belongs solely to the cannabis sativa family. The effects of sativa and indica vary – the sativa effect is described as focused, uplifting, and energizing while the indica effect is described as ultra-relaxing, sedating, full-bodied, and high.

There are approximately 113 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are a class of molecules that interact with the body. CBD and THC are two of the most abundant cannabinoids. Plant cannabinoids are made from cannabinoid acids – the major cannabinoid acids include CBDA, THCA, CBGA, and CBCA. When cannabinoid acids are exposed to heat energy or time, they lose the “A” part of the compound and turn into neutral, rather than acidic, plant cannabinoids. Therefore, they become CBD, THC, CBG, and CBC.

Findings of the study led by Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute, were published on January 10th in the Journal of Natural Products. Van Breemen and collaborators, including scientists at Oregon Health and Science University, found that a pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID) spike protein, blocking a critical step in the process the virus uses to infect people.

According to the press release, the study analyzed a range of plant-derived compounds used as dietary supplements including red clover, wild yam, hops and licorice using a mass septectomy-based screening technique developed at Oregon State University. The compounds were ranked by their affinity to bind with the spike protein, and the two hemp-derived acids came out on top. The compounds are cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, CBDA, and the spike protein is the same drug target used in COVID-19 vaccines and antibody therapy. A drug target is any molecule critical to the process a disease follows, meaning its disruption can thwart infection or disease progression. According to Breemen, research showed the hemp compounds were equally effective against variants of SARS-CoV-2, including variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and variant B.1.351, first detected in South Africa.”

“The benefit for preventing viral infection of cells must come from cannabinoid acids, which are heat sensitive and must not be smoked, or it would convert them to CBD and so forth,” van Breemen said. “So that wouldn’t work for the antiviral effect.” The effective forms are oil tinctures, capsules, brewing a tea with fresh or dried hemp flower. This can be done by boiling hot water and filling up a cup and then adding hemp flower to steep for 4-5 minutes. Water helps to extract acidic cannabinoids; Using water boiled to 212ºF (100ºC) for this short period of time will not significantly decarboxylate the acidic cannabinoids.

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