Marijuana extracts kill antibiotic-resistant MRSA without a high

Substances harvested from cannabis plants could soon outshine conventional antibiotics in the escalating battle against drug-resistant bacteria. The compounds, called cannabinoids, appear to be unaffected by the mechanism that superbugs like MRSA use to evade existing antibiotics. Scientists from Italy and the United Kingdom, who published their research in the Journal of Natural Products last month, say that cannabis-based creams could also be developed to treat persistent skin infections.

Cannabis has long been known to have antibacterial properties and was studied in the 1950s as a treatment for tuberculosis and other diseases. But research into using cannabis as an antibiotic has been limited by poor knowledge of the plant’s active ingredients and by the controversy surrounding its use as a recreational drug.

Now Giovanni Appendino of the Piemonte Orientale University, in Italy, and Simon Gibbons of the School of Pharmacy at the University of London, U.K., have revisited the antibiotic power of marijuana by systematically testing different cannabinoids’ ability to kill MRSA.

MRSA, short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a bacterium that can cause difficult-to-treat infections since it does not respond to many antibiotics. Many healthy people carry S. aureus on their skin, but problems arise when multi-drug-resistant strains infect people with weak immune systems through an open wound. In the worst cases, the bug spreads throughout the body, causing a life-threatening infection.

To make matters worse, resistance to antibiotics is rapidly increasing, and some strains are now even immune to vancomycin, a powerful antibiotic that is normally used only as a last resort when other drugs fail.

But when Appendino, Gibbons, and their colleagues applied extracts from five major cannabinoids to bacterial cultures of six strains of MRSA, they discovered that the cannabinoids were as effective at killing the bugs as vancomycin and other antibiotics.

“The cannabinoids even showed exceptional activity against the MRSA strain that makes extra amounts of the proteins that give the bugs resistance against many antibiotics,” says Gibbons. These proteins, he explains, allow the bacteria to “hoover up unwanted things from inside the cell and spit them out again.”

Conveniently, of the five cannabinoids tested by the researchers, the two most effective ones also happen to be nonpsychoactive, meaning that they cannot cause a high. “What this means is, we could use fiber hemp plants that have no use as recreational drugs to cheaply and easily produce potent antibiotics,” says Appendino.

In an attempt to discover how the cannabinoids kill MRSA, the team manipulated several chemical groups within the compounds. Most of the changes did not affect the antibiotic activity at all, and those that did seemed to influence only how well the cannabinoid is taken up by the bacterial cells.

7 Responses to Marijuana extracts kill antibiotic-resistant MRSA without a high

  1. ben Callanan says:

    This very interesting. Could the author of this article send me some pictures of MRSA, when its just starting. Thank you very much.

  2. colin says:

    That is until the antibiotic manufacturing conglomerates purchase the votes needed to make fiber hemp agriculture illegal too.

  3. Storm Crow says:

    This really isn’t new news! In “HEMP AS A MEDICAMENT : Methods and results of the bacteriological experiments” published in1955 a simple extract of cannabis killed 100% of drug resistant staph aureus- aka the “grandparents” of today’s MRSA! Cannabis kills in a totally different way than antibiotics, so even today’s MRSA will have NO resistance! Read “Granny Storm Crow’s MMJ Reference List” for more on MRSA and cannabis!

    And Ben, it often starts as a pimple, a rash, or inflammation at the site of an injury.

    • kevin jenkins says:

      I have been suffering from MRSA for 5 yrs now and it seems like I am not going to win the battle. As my infections continue to grow worse, and antibiotics just don’t seem to be working, I suffer in constant pain and suffering from the wounds that are now coming in groups of three. Any information that you can afford me would be appreciated thank you.

  4. SHW says:

    Cannabis supports the immune system and enhances cell to cell communication, so the body does what it does naturally. Build, repair, protect, and expire cells to maintain health. So, if killer cells are needed they are mass produced. There are no pharmaceutical drugs available that can do this….the same is true for conventional cancer treatments. So, all cells are killed….instead of duplicating what the immune system does, naturally by killing cancerous cells and leaving the healthy cells alone. Amputation is the outcome for allopathic medicine.

  5. Elianna says:

    I almost cut the end of my finger off, it was gushing blood, I wrapped it in golden seal which helped to stop the bleeding. Doctor said tip of finger would fall off. 3 days after injury, I put on some cannabis oil. Immediately the tissue repaired and regrew and within a day, the finger was almost healed. It was a miracle. Within about a week or so, the cut was completely gone and no sign of an injury. I wish I had taken pictures but just take my word for it.

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