Two new studies have shed light on some of the amazing yet unexpected benefits of cannabinoids, providing more evidence for these compounds’ remarkable healing potential. The first of these, which appears in the journal Science Advances, reveals that CBD can prevent SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID – from replicating inside infected cells[i], while the second, in the journal Pharmaceuticals, suggest that CBG may help to repair damaged neurons following spinal cord injuries[ii].
The Anti-COVID Benefits Of Cannabinoids
While a separate study released earlier this month indicated that certain cannabinoid acids prevent the COVID virus from entering cells in the first place, new research has shown that CBD actually has the capacity to shut the pathogen down even after infection has occurred. According to the study authors, the cannabinoid achieves this by upregulating a key enzyme that destroys part of the virus’s genetic material and prevents it from functioning.
Viruses are essentially just pieces of DNA encased in a protein shell, which interfere with the genetic material of the cells they invade to cause these host cells to create multiple copies of themselves. However, when infected human cells were placed in a petri dish and treated with CBD, the SARS-CoV-2 virus could no longer hijack these cells.
To confirm the anti-viral benefits associated with cannabinoids, the researchers then treated COVID-infected mice with CBD for one week, finding that this significantly decreased the viral load in their lungs and nasal passages. Finally, the study authors analysed the US National COVID Cohort Collaborative data. They noticed that epilepsy sufferers who take CBD to treat their condition tend to test positive for the virus much less frequently than the national average.
The researchers stress that their results don’t provide any evidence that smoking high-CBD cannabis or consuming edibles can actually cure COVID. Still, they call for major clinical studies into the benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids concerning treating viral respiratory illnesses.
The Neurogenerative Benefits Of Cannabinoids
A separate study involving cannabigerol (CBG) has returned some incredible findings that may offer hope to the millions of people living with spinal cord injuries. After treating cultured neurons with the cannabinoid, scientists observed the upregulation of several vital genes involved in nerve cell regeneration.
Initial findings showed that pre-treated neurons with CBG before injury tended to have higher survival rates than untreated cells, mainly due to the cannabinoid’s ability to enhance specific genes associated with the production of antioxidant compounds. This protected the nerve cells and ensured that fewer of them died than would normally be expected.
Meanwhile, cells treated with CBG after injury exhibited an array of significant genetic changes. For instance, genes that trigger the release of neuronal growth factors were enhanced, as were others that serve to remodel the cytoskeletal structure of cells.
Again, this study does not prove that ingesting CBG can regenerate damaged neurons. Still, it does imply that the benefits of certain cannabinoids may extend to the treatment of significant nerve injuries. More extensive trials involving human patients will be needed to investigate this possibility. Yet, it’s becoming increasingly evident that many of the compounds found in cannabis hold significant therapeutic potential and could lead to the development of game-changing treatments for a range of serious conditions.
[i] Nguyen et al., Cannabidiol inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication through induction of the host ER stress and innate immune responses, Science Advances, 2022 – https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abi6110
[ii] Valeri A, Chiricosta L, Gugliandolo A, Pollastro F, Mazzon E. Will Cannabigerol Trigger Neuroregeneration after a Spinal Cord Injury? An In Vitro Answer from NSC-34 Scratch-Injured Cells Transcriptome. Pharmaceuticals. 2022 Feb;15(2):117. – https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8247/15/2/117