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CBD and COVID-19: Here’s what the science shows

July 28, 2023 8 min read

CBD and COVID-19: Here’s what the science shows - Leaf Remedys

CBD and COVID-19: Here’s what the science shows

Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, has been hailed as a cannabinoid with incredible, wide-ranging therapeutic powers.

It’s been linked to numerous groundbreaking studies, which have caught the attention of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This led to the first of its kind, plant-derived, synthetic-free, Cannabidiol-based oral solution –– Epidiolex [¹]

That’s a mouthful, but this particular cannabinoid medication is responsible for treating seizures associated with rare forms of epilepsy, like Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. It’s even used for patients with Tuberous Sclerosis complex [¹].

Needless to say, it’s been a long time coming, but high quality CBD is finally being scientifically recognized for its undeniable and highly therapeutic properties.

That said, since the onset of COVID-19, people have been wondering if this same therapeutic cannabinoid could be used to treat or mitigate the effects of the virus.

CBD for Covid: An unexpected approach

Since 2020, people around the world have endured multiple lockdowns, flip-flopping COVID-19 prevention measures, sadness, and loss.

But just when we thought the initial onslaught of COVID-19 was coming to an end, the virus unexpectedly mutated into a new variant… DELTA! This variant caused more infections and was far more contagious than earlier forms of SARS-CoV-2, the initial virus that started COVID-19 in the first place.

And it didn’t stop there… No sooner than when the Delta variant got under a degree of control, a newer variant developed… Omicron—a variant that spreads faster than the original COVID-19 virus, but fortunately is not nearly as deadly.

Still, scientists and professional researchers continue to develop possible treatment options, vaccines, and boosters.

Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Chicago claimed they discovered that CBD could slow down the infection of COVID-19 in both human cells and in mice[²].

It’s a pretty bold discovery, but is it true? And how?

CBD and the “Cytokine Storm”

Back in January 2021, Marsha Rosner of Ben May Department for Cancer Research, and senior author of the ‘Cannabidiol inhibits SARS-CoV-2 study’, stated, “CBD has anti-inflammatory effects, so we thought that maybe it would stop the second phase of COVID infection involving the immune system, the so-called ‘cytokine storm’...”

And what they discovered was truly thought-provoking… CBD “directly inhibited viral replication in lung cells[²].”

Here’s what the researchers and Rosner did… They took non-psychoactive CBD and treated human lung cells for two hours before they introduced the cells to COVID. Then, they waited.. while meticulously monitoring the virus and the spike of viral proteins.

Soon they noticed that “above a certain threshold concentration”, the replication of the virus was slowed down by CBD. And it had this same effect on two other types of cells and three different COVID variants, including the original virus strain.

So, what does this all mean?

While CBD didn’t prevent the virus from actually entering into the cell, it did block the virus’ ability to replicate 6 hours after the COVID virus infected the cell. “No one in their right mind would have ever thought that it blocked viral replication, but that’s what it did,” said Prof. Rosner [²].

What’s more, people taking the CBD drug Epidiolex tested positive for COVID-19 at much lower rates than patients with similar backgrounds who did not take CBD [²].

Still, more studies are needed to confirm these mind-blowing results, and Rosner agrees: “A clinical trial is necessary to determine whether CBD is really effective at preventing or suppressing SARS-CoV-2 infection, but we think this may have potential as a prophylactic treatment[²].”

But that’s not the only study that has researchers, renowned doctors, and the medical industry looking at CBD in a different light…

CBD and COVID studies: A scientific inside look

One of the first indications that hemp and cannabinoids (like hemp-derived CBD) had an influence on the virus was actually published 3 years before the COVID-19 pandemic even began.

The study was in Italy, and they found that a hemp seed protein isolate slowed down the entry of SARS-CoV2 into angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2) receptor cells. In other words, hemp seeds slowed COVID viruses from making their way into the very receptor cells that serve as the entry point for COVID-19 [³].

Then in January 2022, Richard van Breemen, a researcher published in the Journal of Natural Products, collaborated with scientists at Oregon Health & Science University, and found that certain “cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.” Which means, they may help block a crucial step at which the novel viruses use to infect people [].

The compounds he’s speaking of are called Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA) and Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA).

Breemen stated, “Any part of the infection and replication cycle is a potential target for antiviral intervention, and the connection of the spike protein’s receptor binding domain to the human cell surface receptor ACE2 is a critical step in that cycle…

That means cell entry inhibitors, like the acids from hemp, could be used to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and also to shorten infections by preventing virus particles from infecting human cells. They bind to the spike proteins so those proteins can’t bind to the ACE2 enzyme, which is abundant on the outer membrane of endothelial cells in the lungs and other organs[].”

Other studies have mentioned that Cannabis sativa extracts, otherwise known as hemp-derived cannabinoid extracts, “down-regulate the expression of the two key receptors for SARS-CoV2 in several models of human epithelia [layers of cells that line hollow organs and glands] [,].”

They’ve also mentioned that CBD “exerts a wide range of immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects and it can mitigate the uncontrolled cytokine production responsible for acute lung injury.” Researchers from this study have been pushing for further studies to specifically target CBD for the COVID-19 pandemic [].

Another study explored the association of the cytokine storm with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Because scientists have noted that CBD downregulates the level of cytokines that contribute to inflammation and ARDS, they wanted to see if it helped with the COVID-19 virus [].

The results suggested that CBD took on a “potential protective role” in the pulmonary tissues, reduced the cytokine storms, and influenced homeostasis. We know, you don’t typically hear about these groundbreaking studies on major media outlets, do you?

But in addition to the studies mentioned above, other studies have explored CBD and its approach to COVID related anxiety…

CBD and COVID-19 Anxiety

The COVID-19 pandemic has done more than disrupt our physical health; it’s wreaked havoc over our mental health as well.

Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms (PTSS), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have become a huge issue in the last couple of years, and studies are currently underway to explore possible treatment options. And yes, scientists are hypothesizing that CBD could help.

They’ve mentioned that most of the people who consume CBD, do so to address their anxiety, stress, depression, and sleep problems. In fact, they’ve stated that “in small randomized controlled clinical trials, CBD (300-800 mg) reduces anxiety in healthy volunteers, patients with social anxiety disorder, those at clinical high risk of psychosis, in patients with Parkinson's disease, and in individuals with heroin use disorder [].” 

They went on to state that, “Observational studies and case reports support these findings, extending to patients with anxiety and sleep disorders, Crohn's disease, depression, and in PTSD… Together these features of CBD make it an attractive novel therapeutic option in COVID-related PTSS that merits investigation and testing through appropriately designed randomized controlled trials [].”

But just like multiple studies mention anti-inflammatory properties when it comes tohigh quality CBD… suggesting that CBD can treat or reduce anxiety, PTSS, PTS, depression, and insomnia is a big no-no! 

CBD can not be marketed as an anti-inflammatory product or a treatment option for mental issues. Instead, we can only recommend that you give CBD oil a try to see how it works for you.

That said, there still aren’t enough studies exploring how CBD works. Plus the FDA warns that not all CBD is created equal []. And that’s a big deal!

High quality CBD and COVID-19

Marsha Rosner stated:

Going to your corner bakery and buying some CBD muffins or gummy bears probably won’t do anything… The commercially available CBD powder we looked at, which was off the shelf and something you could order online, was sometimes surprisingly of high purity but also of inconsistent quality. It is also hard to get into an oral solution that can be absorbed without the special, FDA-approved formulation[²].”

For those reasons, it’s important to only purchase high quality, pure CBD oil.

You see, there are a lot of CBD brands out there, all vying to be the first brand listed on Google. And they’ll do or say anything to get there. But what you may not know is, these CBD brands are often shady and have no interest in your well being. They only want your money.

That’s why we encourage you to do your research and only purchase high quality CBD oil from reputable CBD brands.

Look at the hemp source and the extraction methods. If the CBD isn’t sourced from high quality hemp plants grown in nutrient rich soil, like in Colorado or Oregon, steer clear. Same for extraction methods: look for brands that focus on subzero extraction, or even CO2 extraction.

It’s also a good sign if the CBD brand is also  GMP Certified. This ensures their CBD products are clean and safe to consume.

And always look for third party testing. This proves that their CBD products are accurately labeled and 100% free from toxins that can wreak havoc on your overall health.

We also encourage you to look for a CBD brand that has great brand reputation and customer service. They’ll usually feature educational blog posts that are science-backed, real-life customer reviews of their products, and a contact form so you can reach out to them when questions and concerns arise.

When you find a reputable CBD brand that contains the requirements listed above, you’re guaranteed to get  high quality CBD oil.

CBD and COVID-19: Final Thoughts

While we’re very excited that Professor Marsha Rosener and other researchers have discovered that CBD holds tremendous therapeutic properties regarding COVID-19, it’s important to do your research, and not use just any ol’ CBD product.

We, like you, are ready for COVID-19 and all its variants to stop disrupting our lives. But until then, we encourage you to practice healthy prevention measures—like eating a healthy diet, eliminating added stressors, and getting enough sleep. 

As always, we encourage you to reach out to our Leaf Remedys team for any questions or concerns. We’re happy to help in any way we can!


  1. FDA: FDA Approves New Indication for Drug Containing an Active Ingredient Derived from Cannabis to Treat Seizures in Rare Genetic Disease
  2. UCHICAGO NEWS: Researchers recommend clinical trials for CBD to prevent COVID-19 based on promising animal data
  3. Frontiers: Anti-inflammatory Properties of Cannabinoids and Their Potential to Downregulate COVID-19 Related CRS
  4. Oregon State University: Oregon State research shows hemp compounds prevent coronavirus from entering human cells
  5. NCBI: The potential of cannabidiol in the COVID-19 pandemic
  6. NIH: Epithelium
  7. NCBI: Cannabidiol Modulates Cytokine Storm in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Induced by Simulated Viral Infection Using Synthetic RNA
  8. NCBI: Could Cannabidiol Be a Treatment for Coronavirus Disease-19-Related Anxiety Disorders?
  9. FDA: Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products