CBD — the trendy cannabis-derived supplement — may help fight off a Covid infection, a lab study suggests.

A team of researchers from the University of Chicago found it was able to neutralise the virus and prevent it from multiplying.

The study was done in mice and in human lung cells — so the scientists say there are no guarantees it will work in the real world.

They are calling for clinical trials in humans to examine cannabidiol’s anti-Covid potential.

Throughout the pandemic, a number of medications showed promise in lab studies that never translated in clinical trials – including hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir.

The Chicago team also used medical-grade CBD and warned people against self-medicating with off-the-shelf products, which are often low purity.

Researchers found that CBD exposure in human lung cells for 2 hours before Covid significantly inhibited the virus’s replication for up to 6 hours.

A team of researchers found CBD. a compound found in cannabis, was able to slash the ability of Covid to replicate in human cells. In this chart the effectiveness of various compounds found in cannabis is plotted by the percentage of Covid spike proteins found in sampled cells. The further right on the graph the point is the higher the concentration, and the lower, the less virus spike proteins were found in the cells. Of particular note is a combination of CBD and THC, which is the psychoactive part of cannabis, actually reduced the effectiveness compared to pure CBD

CBD was discovered by a team of scientists. A compound in cannabis was found to reduce Covid’s ability to reproduce in human cells. The percentage of Covid spike proteins in samples of cells is used to plot the effectiveness of the various cannabis compounds. The graph’s point moves further to the right, meaning that the greater the percentage of virus spike proteins found in cells, the more effective the compound. A combination of CBD with THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) actually reduces the effectiveness.

The researchers also tested CBD's effectiveness against a number of Covid variants and proved to work against all those tested. Variants tested included the original strain (black), the Beta variant (orange), Alpha (blue), and gamma (green)

Researchers also tried CBD against several Covid varieties and it proved effective against them all. There were four varieties tested: the original strain (black), Beta (orange), Alpha, Gamma and Gamma (green).

Lead author of the study Professor Marsha Rosner, said the team now want to conduct human trials to test CBD effectiveness against Covid in the real world

Lead author of the study Professor Marsha Rosner, said the team now want to conduct human trials to test CBD effectiveness against Covid in the real world

After confirming their findings, the team tested two more types of cells from humans and also tried the original Wuhan variant of the virus.

What exactly is CBD oil?

Cannabidiol, or CBD (Cannabidiol) can be found in marijuana and has many medical benefits.

For a few conditions such as severe epilepsy or vomiting due to chemotherapy, it can be prescribed in the NHS.

The NHS version cannot get you high, because it doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the chemical in cannabis that has that effect.

However, the Health Service warns that the majority of cannabis-based products available online are illegal and could contain THC.

The CBD-rich products sold by health shops are very low in chemical content, making it difficult to know what effects it may have.

THC products can cause psychosis or drug dependence.

Side effects of this medication include a decreased appetite, diarrhoea, and feeling sick.

In the current study, the new Omicron Omicron variant was not tested. This has caused a spike in Covid cases both in the UK and in the US. The Delta variant of the virus was not tested in the study.

Marsha Rosner (lead author), said that the results were completely unanticipated.

She said, “We were just curious if CBD might affect our immune system.”

‘No one in their right mind would have ever thought that it blocked viral replication, but that’s what it did.’

Before discovering the unexpected result, the researchers set out initially to determine if CBD’s antiinflammatory properties might help patients recover from Covid-related symptoms.

Further testing on mice revealed that CBD was used to treat the rats’ infection before being exposed to Covid.

Professor Rosner commented that the results provided major support for CBD-based clinical trials in humans.

She added that, if proven effective, she would envision CBD forming a prophylactic treatment for Covid, something a person would take if they had been exposed to the virus in an attempt to reduce the chances of becoming ill.

They were inspired to continue their research and found out that CBD medications designed to prevent epilepsy have a reduced risk of getting Covid.

Analysing real-word data taken from a national US survey, they found a cohort of 1,200 patients taking an oral CBD medication for epilepsy had less chance of catching Covid compared to their non-medicated equivalents.

The authors insist that CBD doesn’t replace vaccines against Covid, and urge the public not to disregard the advice from public health officials.

Professor Rosner added that the observed effect in the studies was only for high purity CBD, generally only available as a prescribed medication.

‘Going to your corner bakery and buying some CBD muffins or gummy bears probably won’t do anything,’ she said.

In a further blow to anyone thinking of smoking marijuana in an attempt to fight off Covid, the team also found THC, the part of the cannabis plant which has psychoactive properties actually reduced CBD’s effectiveness against the virus.

 Professor Rosner said the team was excited about the potential of CBD to help against the Covid pandemic, but added more research needed to be done.