COVID-19 and cannabis: can CBD be used to help ward off or treat the coronavirus?

As drug companies race to create a vaccine for the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2—more commonly known as COVID-19—there is no known preventative measure other than avoiding infection in the first place. For those who have contracted the virus, treatment includes the intake of fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration and medication to reduce fever. In more severe cases, supplemental oxygen might be indicated.

A few proponents of CBD have claimed that the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis can help prevent or fight coronavirus infection. Mona Lisa Healing, a Vancouver-based CBD-oil brand headed by rocker Bif Naked, has sent out promotional emails promising that its products can "help your body defend against COVID-19 coronavirus".

Earlier this week, a CBD store in Portland, Oregon, was ordered by the office of the state's attorney general to take down signs claiming that its products could boost immunity against COVID-19.

Is there any veracity to such claims? Dani Gordon is a Canadian doctor and researcher living in the U.K., and the author of a forthcoming book titled The CBD Bible. On March 19, Gordon posted an article with the headline "Can Cannabis & CBD Affect Corona Virus"? In the article, Gordon states succinctly, "As for CBD and cannabis, we don’t have any studies showing it has any effect on the coronavirus."

Gordon cautions against putting too much stock in anecdotal claims that cannabis and CBD can be used to boost one's immunity to viruses. "For me, as both a cannabis specialist and doctor trained in natural medicine and western medicine it’s important to let people know the facts and be totally honest about what we don’t know," she writes. "It’s also critical not to make false claims when we are all understandably a bit scared and of course want to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones."   

"Plant medicines like CBD and medical cannabis do so many amazing things that there is no need to stretch the truth or make claims that cannot be backed up, at least not currently," Gordon concludes.

For information on what you can do if you contract the coronavirus, see the federal government's COVID-19 portal.