The First Cannabinoid-Based COVID-19 Treatment Hits the Public Market
Does it work, and if so, how well?
It’s been three years since the pandemic struck, and while for many of us, it seems life has gone back to normal, there are still thousands of people who have or are going to get COVID-19.
But thanks to science, vaccines, and medications, even more lives have been saved. However, that doesn’t mean the fight is over. The virus still very much exists around us and that’s why we need more advanced treatments.
Thankfully, researchers have found that cannabis, hemp, and its therapeutic cannabinoids, has the potential to fight and treat COVID-19.
Now a company has developed the first product based on cannabinoid acids designed to prevent and treat COVID-19.
Van Breemen, which makes plant-based and wellness products, has created the hemp-based Original Wellness Formula, a blend founded by researcher Dr. Richard van Breemen of the Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Centre, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute, reports Benzinga. Dr. van Breemen just launched his company as he has founded his work based on research discovering that some cannabinoid acids within the hemp plant is beneficial for treating and preventing coronavirus.
Last January, Dr. van Breemen’s research paper called “Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants” was published in the renowned medical journal, Journal of Natural Products. It was a breakthrough for the industry and the world as a whole, as scientists were still struggling to find means of preventing and treating this mysterious virus. They intend to submit the formula to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) soon for approval.
“We believe in elevating the conversation by bringing doctors and scientists to the table and delivering a product we can stand behind,” said company co-founder & CEO, Jacob Crabtree to Benzinga. “Van Breemen’s Wellness Formula is that product,” he said.
“Our goal is to achieve optimal health with the use of plants and science, transforming the way we view complementary medicine,” van Breemen said. “Cannabinoids such as CBGA and CBDA are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. These cannabinoids are abundant in hemp and have a positive safety profile in humans. We are extremely proud to offer our first such hemp-based product to consumers,” he said.
The Wellness Formula Product’s original flavor is pineapple, with more flavors to be developed soon. It’s designed to be applied sublingually, and is a full-spectrum cannabis product with 124mg in each serving. The suggested retail price is currently at $49.99.
Dr. van Breemen led the study which found that CBDA and CBGA were the most promising cannabinoids for fighting the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein. In the trials, they found that it was successful in blocking the human epithelial cell when a pseudovirus expressed the spike glycoprotein.
It was also significant that both cannabinoids derived from hemp were successful stopping the infection, as well as its variants including the beta and alpha strain. The study authors indicated that the concentrations needed to stop the infections of 50% of the viruses was achievable clinically. Additionally, data on CBDA bioavailability indicated that serum concentrations and micromolar plasma can be used for tolerability and efficacy.
“Because we believe that the primary binding site for CBGA is allosteric, there may even be reduced evolutionary pressure for SARS-CoV-2 to mutate their binding sites compared to the orthosteric binding sites typically favored by neutralizing antibodies,” said the authors.
“Clinical trials are absolutely necessary to prove that the mechanism of action that we’ve identified in small molecules actually can prevent infection in humans, or shorten the course of our COVID infection in humans,” said Dr. van Breemen to The Sun.
Can cannabis really treat COVID?
The use of cannabis for treating and preventing COVID-19 is nothing short of controversial. It has garnered strong media attention, but we think this is warranted. After all, cannabis is renowned for its numerous therapeutic and anti-viral properties.
But we can’t deny what the science says.
Another recent study suggests that CBD may help prevent or treat the dreaded virus. According to the University of Chicago’s Marsha Rosner, lead researcher of a team who discovered that CBD helped to treat the virus in laboratory experiments, CBD does make a strong case without claiming that it would work.
For their study, the researchers used small doses of purified CBD, similar to what patients with severe epilepsy would medicate with. Rosner and her team discovered that instead of CBD preventing the virus from infecting cells, CBD acted immediately once the virus entered the cells though it blocked it from replicating copies of itself through its effects on interferon, an inflammatory protein.
Meanwhile, in 2020, another animal study discovered that CBD could be effective in reducing the cytokines, which helped improve clinical symptoms in mice models that had symptoms similar to COVID-19.
No support from FDA
The FDA as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers against using CBD for treating COVID-19. They have issued 7 warning letters for hemp-CBD companies against claiming that their products can “mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure” a disease.
“The FDA has not approved or authorized any drug containing CBD for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19,” they said.
“We request that you take immediate action to cease the sale of any unapproved and unauthorized products for the mitigation, prevention, treatment, diagnosis, or cure of COVID-19,” writes the FDA.
For consumers, it’s best to consult with cannabis-knowledgeable doctors before self-medicating with cannabis for such a life-threatening condition. However, we do hope that more research can be done to save more lives.