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CBGA and CBDA: Do These Cannabinoids Really Have Antiviral Effects?

ByTrichome Team

March 5, 2022

Reading Time: 3 minutes

How many cannabinoids would you guess can be found in cannabis? 10? 50? It turns out, there are more than 100 known cannabinoids—and some say that’s barely scratching the surface.

Delta-9 THC is the best-known of these cannabinoids, followed by CBD and some up-and-comers like CBN.

But lately, some lesser-known cannabinoids have been making the news for their antiviral effects. What does that mean for consumers?

Understanding Cannabinoids: CBGA and CBDA

Consumers are familiar with well-known cannabinoids like CBD and THC, some of which have been documented in preclinical studies to have anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, pain-relieving effects.

The two cannabinoids we’re diving into here—cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)—are precursors to better-known cannabinoids and can be thought of as “raw,” so to speak.

CBGA is especially interesting, as it functions as the “source code” for major cannabinoid lines: It’s converted into THCA, CBDA and CBCA when exposed to different enzymes, ultimately becoming better-known cannabinoids like THC and CBD over time.

However, when the essential enzymes for conversion are absent, CBGA remains as-is. Hemp with high levels of CBG generally has a low amount of THC content, making it easier for cultivators to pass mandatory pre-harvest USDA testing for THC potency. Thus, CBG-dominant strains are increasing in popularity among cultivators, making CBG-rich products more readily available to consumers.

Are CBDA and CBGA Antivirals?

A recent Oregon State University study showed CBGA and CBDA’s potential to block infection from SARS-CoV-2. Researchers observed that these cannabinoids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and prevent it from infecting human cells. What’s more, this was shown to be effective at preventing both the original strain and its variants from infecting human cells.

This is significant, since due to variable vaccination rates and the virus’s ability to mutate quickly, we’ll likely face variants of this coronavirus for years to come. With recent wider-spread immunity in the United States due to a combination of vaccination and infection by the Omicron variant, the hope is that these variants will continuously diminish in strength and transmissibility. Any tool we have to potentially avoid infection, severe or otherwise, is welcome in the continued fight against this virus.

Although these preliminary results are promising, clinical trials are still needed to determine the full extent of CBDA and CBGA’s ability to treat or prevent Covid-19. That said, with the results of the Oregon State study in mind, there’s no harm in using CBDA and CBGA supplementally in addition to other treatments and prevention methods.

How to Find Hemp Products With CBGA and CBDA

In the presence of heat, the acids CBGA and CBDA decarboxylate into better-known cannabinoids like CBD and THC, so smoking/vaping any hemp flower you buy online or in a CBD shop would not be an effective way to ingest CBGA or CBDA.

There is the potential for the development of oral therapies composed of CBGA or CBDA to possibly treat or prevent serious SARS-CoV-2 infection, but consumers aren’t likely to find such specific products in their local dispensaries or alternative treatment centers in high quantities as of yet.

However, since these acids are primarily derived from hemp—which is federally legal—products with CBGA and CBDA will be widely available in dispensaries, CBD shops or online marketplaces. Many products are still in development, but the industry is quickly shifting to accommodate this new consumer demand. As always, it’s essential to purchase only from reputable brands with up-to-date certificates of analysis for each and every product.

Based on the demand for CBGA and CBDA isolate as a direct result of the Oregon State University study, we anticipate the market will soon be flooded with new products for antiviral protection and beyond. Be mindful of your sources, and never hesitate to ask a brand about their laboratory testing or quality management systems.

Ultimately, the Oregon State University study is also meaningful because it signals a greater acceptance of cannabis- and hemp-derived therapies, potentially heralding future clinical studies and potentially the development of targeted therapies for illnesses of all kinds.