MEDFORD, Ore. – A recent Oregon State University study showing hemp can help protect you from COVID-19 is gaining local and international attention, including the attention of a local hemp farm that has pivoted some production to now include capsules with higher concentration of the compounds listed in the recent OSU research.
Hemp compounds CBDA, CBGA, and THCA are the active anti-viral compounds identified by OSU researcher Richard Van Breemen through chemical screening to prevent the SARS-COV-2 virus from entering human cells.
“The proof came when we collaborated with a colleague at OHSU,” says Van Breemen, “He has live virus in his laboratory and could test our compounds in a laboratory petri dish culture and show the compounds prevented the virus from infecting humans.”
Van Breemen is a part of Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center and his findings were published on Monday in the Journal of Natural Products.
Local hemp farm, Fern Valley Farms in Medford, is already starting production of capsules with increasing levels of those compounds.
“Our new capsules are already in production, we’re just waiting on the labels,” says co-owner Kelley Thomas, “there are 38mg CBDA per capsule.”
Van Breemen’s research states these compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans.
“This research coming out, we’re ecstatic about it and we can’t wait to get our product out there and we hope this can reach as many people as it possibly can and hopefully cure this disease,” says co-found of Fern Valley Farms, Katie Thomas.
Katie and Kelley Thomas have owned and operated Fern Valley Farms since 2018. They tell NewsWatch 12 they’ve worked to create products to help with a number of diseases, including HIV and epilepsy and the thought of being able to join in the fight against COVID-19 is something they’re excited about.
“This is the whole reason we got into this business, is to help as many people as we possibly can,” says Katie.
“We haven’t even scratched the surface of what this plant is capable of because there’s been such little research over the years,” explains Kelley.
Van Breemen says since his research was published, he’s been contacted by multiple hemp farmers and companies that produce hemp products, eager to work together.
“I’m delighted to hear from them and learn more about the industry,” says Van Breemen, “because hemp and hemp extracts are available as dietary supplements people can go and take them immediately and many people have been doing so all along, whether they will have an effect or not we don’t know, we can’t say yet; we don’t know what an effective dose might be or the frequency of dosing that would be recommended but we do know these products have a history of safe use by people.”
Van Breemen says the next step in the research process is to test efficacy of the hemp compounds and their use against COVID-19 in humans in a clinical trial, which has not started at this time but Van Breemen believes will happen in the near future.
Because hemp is already safe for human consumption, the clinical testing could move quickly.
“We might be able to side step or leave out a lot of the traditional drug development experiments,” says Van Breemen.
Van Breemen says before anyone starts self-medicating they should first talk to their doctor.
Van Breemen says he still recommends vaccination but is hopeful this research could open the door to other preventative options as scientists work to help end the pandemic.
According to Van Breemen’s research, the compounds are only effective at preventing COVID-19 when in their raw form so smoking and vaping hemp products would not offer any protection.
The Thomas’ say Fern Valley Farms is looking to offer a free bottle of their new product to those who are interested.