BENEATH the swathes of plastic that cover hillsides across southern Andalucia, a pungent smelling crop is being cultivated that could prove to be the secret weapon to ending the coronavirus pandemic.
These legal marijuana fields are not the property of drug cartels or grown for their lucrative buds but instead are legal agriculture with the crop harvested to make CBD oil for medical and industrial use.
The fibrous leaves are used for clothing, biofuel and animal feed while the CBD oil has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, ranging from epilepsy and chronic pain to anxiety and insomnia.
The latest study on the medicinal benefits of CBD shows that it could play a vital role in combating COVID-19 infections.
And in Spain where hemp plantations have increased eightfold in just five years, this could be very welcome news.
In a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances on January 20, researchers found that in patients taking prescribed CBD, there was a “significant” relationship between CBD consumption and COVID-19 infection.
They found that those taking CBD returned positive COVID-19 tests at much lower rates than control groups with similar medical backgrounds who did not take CBD.
The research found that CBD is a potent blocker of SARS-CoV-2 replication in human cells, however scientists have warned that this is not a substitute for vaccination campaigns but could end up becoming a much needed supplement for fighting the pandemic.
“Despite recent vaccine availability, SARS-CoV-2 is still spreading rapidly, highlighting the need for alternative treatments, especially for populations with limited inclination or access to vaccines,” the University of Chicago researchers wrote in their study.
“What we don’t want… is people just running out and thinking, ‘I can take CBD, and then I don’t have to get vaccinated or I don’t have to be masked,’” warned Dr. Marsha Rosner, a professor in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research at the University of Chicago. “This is what we really don’t want to see.”