Cannabis compound stops COVID-19 in a test-tube but needs more research

CBD has been the subject of several recent laboratory experiments, all yielding promising findings.

Researchers believe preliminary data indicates that a popular non-psychoactive compound derived from marijuana could help prevent or treat COVID-19, deserves further examination in clinical studies. Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been the subject of several recent laboratory studies that have yielded encouraging findings, gaining media interest. However, several other prospective COVID-19 treatments that showed promise in test tubes, such as hydroxychloroquine and numerous cancer and other disease-fighting drugs, failed to demonstrate benefit in COVID-19 patients after being investigated in clinical trials. Marsha Rosner of the University of Chicago led a team that found CBD appearing to help curb SARS-CoV-2 in infected cells in laboratory experiments. "Our findings do not say this will work in patients. Our findings make a strong case for a clinical trial," she said.

Using small doses of highly purified CBD that approximate what patients receive in an oral drug already approved for severe epilepsy, Rosner and colleagues found that CBD did not keep the coronavirus from infecting cells in test tubes. Rather, it acted shortly after the virus entered the cells, preventing it from replicating, in part through effects on the inflammatory protein interferon. According to a report published in Science Advances, they discovered similar effects in infected mice. The researchers discovered that those who were taking the approved CBD medicine had decreased rates of COVID-19 in a cohort of adults with severe epilepsy. However, looking backward at a small group of patients does not provide conclusive information.