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Scientist: Cannabis-Based Antibiotics Could Be Available Within Five Years

Researchers are finding more and more uses for medical cannabis. The latest of these is cannabis-based antibiotics that have the ability to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (1, 2)

Cannabis-Based Antibiotics

At the beginning of last year, separate studies at McMaster University in Canada and the University of Queensland found that cannabis-based antibiotics might just be what we need to defeat deadly superbugs. (1, 2)

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Superbugs are the name given to bacteria that have become resistant to the current antibiotics available. Some of these bacteria include (1, 2):

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  • Staphylococcus aureus (wound infections, pneumonia, meningitis)
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Gonorrhoeae)

These bacteria are considered priority pathogens by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to the number of infections and deaths they cause globally each year. (1, 2)

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Cannabis-Based Antibiotics Against Staph Infections

A research team from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, discovered that a non-psychoactive element of cannabis, known as cannabigerol (CBG), successfully saved Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)-infected mice from death. (1)

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Microbiologist and study lead Eric Brown says that MRSA infections can range from causing things like boils or pimples to respiratory or blood infections. (1)

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“It’s one of the superbugs which is causing considerable problems with drug resistant infections in the clinic and in the community,” he said. (1)

MRSA is becoming increasingly resistant to currently available antibiotics. This problem spurred the need for an alternative solution. Brown and his team studied various cannabis compounds over the course of two years, which led them to the breakthrough with CBG. (1)

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They found that CBG can break through the bacteria’s outer protective film, called the biofilm. In combination with another antibiotic, it can effectively treat pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and other problems associated with this bacterial class. (1)

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Cannabis-Based Antibiotics Against Gonorrhea

A team of researchers from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, led by Dr. Mark Blaskovich, found that cannabidiol (CBD), another non-psychoactive component of cannabis, is also highly successful at combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (2)

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Their study shows that CBD is effective against (2):

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  • Staph infections, including diabetic ulcers and wounds
  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhea and colitis
  • Gonorrhea

Their research confirmed the same as the McMaster researchers found: CBD can penetrate the bacteria’s protective biofilm. (2)

“Cannabidiol showed a low tendency to cause resistance in bacteria even when we sped up potential development by increasing concentrations of the antibiotic during ‘treatment’. Said Dr. Blaskovich. (3)

Neither research team is certain how either CDB or CBG achieves this, however, it is a phenomenal breakthrough that can’t be ignored. (3)

Not Ready Yet

Dr. Brown says CBG cannabis-based antibiotics are not even close to being ready for market. They found that at extremely high doses, CBG can cause damage to healthy human cells. They have only tested it against MRSA in mice and need to do further research to determine its efficacy in humans. (1)

Leading neurologist Professor Mike Barnes also agrees, saying that its rate of effectiveness can change once you put something in pill form. (3)

“if you put CBD on a plate with bacteria it kills it very quickly,” he explained. “but if you put it in a tablet form it won’t kill it very quickly.” (3)

It is also important to note that recreational marijuana products are not included here. They have no effect on fighting any of these pathogens.

Professor Barnes says he predicts it will be available soon. (3)

“I think we’re five years plus away, a pessimist might say 10 years, I think that’s too much given the plethora of research at the moment.” He told Metro UK

Until then, researchers will continue to test and develop these products. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, we will have multiple ways to stop antibiotic-resistant bacteria for good.

Keep Reading: Scientists Developing Contact Lenses That Can Treat Diabetes

  1. McMaster researchers find cannabis has antibiotic potential.” CBC. Jennifer La Grassa. February 28, 2020.
  2. The antimicrobial potential of cannabidiol.” Nature. Mark A. T. Blaskovich, et al. January 19, 2021.
  3. Cannabis-Based Antibiotics Could Be Available On NHS Within Five Years.” Lad Bible. Rebecca Shepherd. February 25, 2021
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
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