What’s In a Name? For Spike Proteins, Everything.
If you keep up with COVID-19 news, you’ve likely recognized one of the virus’s key biological buzzwords: spike proteins. Spike, which brings to mind imagery of sharp-toothed spheres of disease, is actually very close to the scientific definition and microscopic appearance. A spike protein, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is a “glycoprotein that protrudes from the envelope of some viruses and facilitates entry of virion into a host cell.”
To effectively neutralize a COVID-19 spike protein the body needs antibodies, which form either by vaccination or previous infection. However, emerging research shows there may be a new, equally effective method of spike protein neutralization, and it’s rooted in natural wellness. In a new paper published in the American Chemical Society and American Society of Pharmacognosy, CBD showed the potential to both treat and prevent COVID-19 infection.1
A Viral Affinity
Just as antibodies bind to the virus’s outer spikes to neutralize them, thus preventing the virus from infiltrating healthy host cells, cannabinoids found in CBD also demonstrated a “micromolar affinity,” or natural inclination, to bind to the spike protein.1 In trials, cannabigerolic and cannabidiolic acids effectively bound to a COVID-19 pseudovirus and prevented entry into cells1 — a massive finding in the ongoing COVID-19 battle.
Long-COVID Still Looms
Although the CBD study brings promising news to those actively avoiding COVID’s newest variants, research on the long-term effects of the virus in those previously infected proves startling. One paper in preprint at scientific publisher Cell reported when the COVID-19 virus binds to blood vessel-lining endothelial cells, the resulting damage has the potential to disrupt the central nervous system.2
Endothelial cells not only control enzymes responsible for blood clotting and immune functioning but also form the blood-brain barrier (BBB), the semipermeable border that separates toxins circulating in the blood from the fluid of the central nervous system.3 While blood clotting and significantly decreased immune functioning have become staples of the proinflammatory cytokine storms of severe COVID-19 infections, long-term neuroinflammation via toxic BBB infiltration may be an even more troubling side effect to dissect.
An Anti-Inflammatory Solution
Luckily, there are methods to prevent or greatly reduce neuroinflammatory brain fog and fatigue associated with long-COVID. Increasing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds is the most naturally effective way to target oxidative stress and neuroinflammation. What are a few of the best, most easily accessible sources of these compounds? Fruits, vegetables and, yes, CBD. The Cell paper particularly emphasized increased consumption of the antioxidant luteolin.2 You can find the plant foods richest in luteolin here.
Healing with Plants
The conclusion of the latest COVID-19 research: Plants like CBD may have the potential to aid antibodies in virus prevention and reduce some of the worst symptoms of COVID-19 in those already infected. And for those suffering from long-COVID, an increase in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and an emphasis on anti-inflammatory supplements like CBD can go a long way in easing symptoms, helping to bring the world back to a more optimistic, balanced state of mind and body.
1. van Breemen, R. B., Muchiri, R. N., Bates, T. A., Weinstein, J. B., Leier, H. C., Farley, S., & Tafesse, F. G. (2022, January 10). Cannabinoids block cellular entry of SARS-COV-2 and the emerging variants. ACS Publications. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.1c00946
2. Theoharides, T. C., & Conti, P. (2021). Be aware of SARS-COV-2 spike protein: There is more than meets the eye. Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents. Retrieved February 11, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34100279/
3. Cedars Sinai. (n.d.). Endothelial Function Testing. Cedars Sinai. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from https://www.cedars-sinai.org/programs/heart/clinical/womens-heart/conditions/endothelial-function-testing.html