Cannabis Could Fight Superbugs, Study Finds

by Mike Whiter, and Ashleigh Carter

A compound of cannabis could effectively kill drug-resistant superbugs.

Scientists found that cannabigerol (CBG), which is one of the more than 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, was effective in killing Staphylococcus aureus—otherwise known as MRSA.

MRSA is one of the most common antibiotic-resistant hospital superbugs that was associated with more than 19,000 deaths in 2017 alone. Bacteria can be classified as “gram positive” or “gram negative,”depending on the nature of their membrane(s), and MRSA is a gram positive bacteria. Scientists tested CBG on MRSA and it successfully killed the bug in both a lab setting and in mice.

However, the study found gram negative superbugs were much harder to treat, and CBG was initially found to be less effective against these bacteria. CBG was used in conjunction with small amounts of polymyxin B, an antibiotic that works against gram negative bacteria, and the cannabinoid was able to kill the drug-resistant bacteria.

Eric Brown, a microbiologist  who led the study at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said cannabinoids were “clearly great drug-like compounds,” but still represented an early finding.

“There is much work to do to explore the potential of the cannabinoids as antibiotics from the safety standpoint,” Brown told The Guardian.

Scientists said cannabis contains many antibiotic properties to help cure different bugs.

“These are likely made as a defence mechanism to protect the plant from bacterial and fungal infections, but to date have not been very useful for human infections as they really only work outside the body,” Mark Blasovich, researcher at University of Queensland, told the Guardian. “That’s what makes this new report potentially exciting; evidence that cannabigerol is able to treat a systemic infection in mice.”

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