According to findings discovered by a team of researchers from the University of Chicago, cannabidiol (CBD), an active component in cannabis, may help inhibit infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.

The study, which was published in Science Advances on Jan. 20, discovered that CBD had a substantial negative correlation with positive COVID tests in a national sample of medical records from individuals receiving the FDA-approved medicine for treating epilepsy. The researchers now believe that clinical trials should be conducted to see if CBD may be utilized as a preventative or early treatment for COVID-19.

They do warn, however, that CBD's COVID-blocking properties are limited to a high-purity, precisely designed amount given in specific circumstances. The outcomes of the study do not show that consuming commercially available CBD additives of varying concentration and quality can protect against COVID-19.

Even if the findings are correct, they only relate to medical-grade, FDA-approved CBD used to treat seizure disorders, not the low-potency CBD sold to the general public.

CBD is also not a replacement for established COVID-19 prevention, such as vaccination and high-quality masks, according to study leader Marsha Rosner, a cancer researcher at the University of Chicago who studies immune responses. However, the researchers are optimistic that the compound will be useful in the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus - and possibly other viruses.

So far, the researchers have demonstrated that the compound can assist mice fight COVID-19, and they have discovered indications that it may also aid humans.

Rosner and her colleagues started by treating human lung cells in a lab dish with CBD before exposing them to the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2. They discovered that CBD-dosed cells were substantially better at resisting infection than untreated ones. Monkey kidney cells, which are vulnerable to the virus, were similarly affected. This was also true for the coronavirus's alpha, beta, and gamma variants. (Delta and Omicron weren't available when the study was done, Rosner noted.)

"We show that CBD can stop replication of SARS-COV2 in cells in a dish and that it acts at least up to 15 hours after infection, so that suggests it might be effective even at early times after viruses enter cells," Rosner said.

The usage of CBD is not without risks. When ingested in food or drink, it appears to be extremely safe; nevertheless, methods of consumption such as vaping can have undesirable side effects, including potential heart and lung damage. It's also not thoroughly studied in specific populations, such as pregnant women, so it should be used with caution and only under the guidance of a physician.

While the study's findings are promising, more research is required to discover the precise dosing of CBD that is helpful in avoiding infection in humans, as well as its safety profile and any potential adverse effects.