Hidden Antibiotic Potential of Cannabis Discovered by Scientists

The team also uncovered its efficacy in mice against a resilient family of bacteria.
Fabienne Lang

Cannabis is slowly becoming legalized under specific regulations in certain parts of the world. Since then, many researchers have jumped at the opportunity to uncover the plant's medical potential.

One such team of researchers from McMaster University in Canada has unveiled cannabis' antibiotic potential, as well as how strong its resilience against MSRA bacteria in mice is.

Their findings were published in the journal American Chemical Society Infectious Diseases.

Cannabis as an antibiotic

The multidisciplinary team from McMaster University put its heads together and discovered that the chemical compound, or cannabinoid, called cannabigerol (CBG) is at the same time antibacterial, and resilient against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

"In this study, we investigated 18 commercially available cannabinoids and they all showed antibiotic activity, some much more than others," said lead study author Eric Brown, professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University. 

"The one we focused on was a non-psychoactive cannabinoid called CBG, as it had the most promising activity. We synthesized that cannabinoid in mass quantity which gave us sufficient compound to go deep into the research," continued Brown

The team discovered that CBG had antibacterial properties against the drug-resistant MRSA. "CBG proved to be marvelous at tackling pathogenic bacteria," Brown said. "The findings suggest real therapeutic potential for cannabinoids as antibiotics."

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The team discovered this by testing mice that had an MRSA infection and were given CBG as a treatment. 

Hidden Antibiotic Potential of Cannabis Discovered by Scientists
Prof. Eric Brown (left), research associate Maya Farha (center), and postdoctoral fellow Omar El-Halfawy, authors of the study, Source: Georgia Kirkos/McMaster University

It's an exciting discovery, however, the team cautions that this is currently an important lead, and not a final product, as there is the toxicity of CBG on host cells. 

The team has been working and studying the potential of cannabinoids for the past two years, ever since Canada legalized marijuana.

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