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Editor’s note:A primary care physician should be consulted before taking any supplements. No one other than a doctor should provide medical advice. This article is not intended to include medical advice, nor should it be interpreted as such.

Health experts and scientists worldwide are searching for potential treatments and cures to address the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the search is leading researchers to the cannabis plant for possible answers. 

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have launched a lab-based study to investigate whether CBD, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, has antiviral effects on cells infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. The researchers are using a proprietary CBD formula produced by Baltimore-based firm bioRemedies MD to examine interactions between CBD and the coronavirus, and determine whether CBD may be an effective treatment. 

CBD is derived from the hemp plant, a kind of cannabis that, unlike marijuana, does not give patients the high produced by elevated THC levels. Hemp has grown in popularity among farmers and health and wellness retailers in recent years. Its ingredients, including CBD, can be used in a variety of consumer products, including cosmetics, biofuel and food. CBD is purported to have various health benefits, including reducing depression and anxiety, but scientific research validating such benefits has been limited to this point.

According to an article in the Baltimore Business Journal, The University of Maryland School of Medicine research team is focusing on CBD’s potential usefulness as an anti-inflammatory agent. The coronavirus causes aggressive inflammatory responses and can cause damage to airways and potentially lead to acute respiratory distress or respiratory failure. 

The Maryland-based study follows on the work of Canadian researchers at the University of Lethbridge. Their recent non-peer-reviewed study showed that CBD could help block ACE2, the molecule that the COVID-19 virus uses to enter cells and spread infection.

The research underway at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine will expand upon the work in Canada, attempting to determine further if CBD can reduce the activity of ACE2. It will also investigate if CBD could be used to help protect again the excessive inflammatory responses to the virus associated with lung damage and death.

Regardless of the early stages of research, local experts warn that more testing is necessary before individuals start turning to CBD or medical marijuana for any COVID-19 virus treatment. 

“Medical marijuana, including CBD, does have some antibiotic properties that may be useful in treating infections,” Richard Greer, pharmacy director for Solevo Wellness, who has locations in Squirrel Hill, Cranberry and Washington, said. “Some limited research has come out that CBD may be a useful medication in treating the coronavirus. However, with many unknowns that are yet to be determined, CBD by itself should never be used to treat the coronavirus. A patient infected with the coronavirus should always follow the advice of their physician, which hopefully would include recommendations from an infectious disease specialist.”

In Washington, Chris Kohan, co-founder of The Healing Center, agrees that more research is needed before CBD can be used as an effective treatment for the coronavirus.

“Everything so far is preliminary. It’s a slippery slope, and that’s how people end up making fun of our industry,” Kohan said. “Initial studies have shown some promise, but they are very, very early. We have to wait until we have more research.” 

This content is sponsored by The Healing Center, Compassionate Certification Center, Your CBD Store - Bethel Park/Canonsburg/Washington, Maitri Medicinals, Solevo Wellness and the Medicine Shoppe - Washington.