A Hand Sanitizer Made From Weed Terpenes Is Coming to Whoop COVID-19's Ass
Numerous studies have shown that the terpenes found in cannabis possess antiviral properties, and scientists are now using the compounds to create a hand sanitizer that hits coronavirus with a double-whammy of antibiotics.
Published on April 20, 2020

Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the world is still experiencing severe shortages of rubbing alcohol, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer due to hoarding. 

How about making a hand sanitizer that can kill the coronavirus from the same terpenes found in weed, though? One company, Vanguard Scientific, is doing just that. 

Vanguard, based in Oregon, manufactures and sells equipment for botanical extraction — and yes, that includes extracting the good stuff from cannabis, too. As part of its Project Terpenes-Clean, the company has released a recipe for combining plant-derived terpenoid compounds with hand sanitizers made with rubbing alcohol. The ultimate goal: Hit the coronavirus with a double-whammy of antibiotics, slow the spread of COVID-19, and get the rest of the planet back to business as usual, as soon as possible.

And the wildest part of Project Terpenes-Clean? Vanguard Scientific is providing its terpene recipe to the public free-of-charge

"Like all industries, the botanical extraction industries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Matthew Anderson, Vanguard Scientific’s CEO, in a press release. "We know that traditional healers have used plant-derived compounds as powerful medicine for centuries, so we're offering our expertise to the rest of the industry so others can join us in creating a soap-less hand cleaner that leverages industry science and increases the supply of hand cleaning products." 

Terpenes are the molecules in cannabis that give dank buds their deep aromas and rich flavors. They may also contribute to weed’s heady effects, such as making tokers sleepy or energized, depending on the strain and how it was cultivated. 

Numerous studies have shown that many of the terpenes found in cannabis possess antiviral properties. For instance, pinene (which makes weed smell like pine trees) and limonene (which makes weed smell like fresh citrus peels) can block the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) from infecting human cells. Other studies confirmed that essential oils from various plants and herbs, which are packed with terpenes, can fight off influenza, coxsackie virus, polio, and dengue fever, too.

Of course, cannabis isn’t just made of terpenes. Hand sanitizers that include both terpenes and cannabinoids like THC and CBD may be even more effective than just terpenes and alcohol together. There is ample evidence that cannabinoids can also possess anti-viral properties, and can slow the progression of incredibly difficult-to-treat viruses like HIV, the hepatitis C virus, and the Kaposi’s sarcoma herpes virus.

However, whether plant-derived terpenes or cannabinoids can kill the novel coronavirus, the one that causes COVID-19, remains to be seen. But hey, if these weed-laced hand sanitizers contain enough rubbing alcohol, they should do the trick, regardless of how damn good they smell. 

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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