As the market for therapeutic products containing cannabis and hemp extracts continues to rapidly develop, several studies into the medical capabilities of cannabidiol also show that it may act as an antibacterial and an antibiotic.
Cannabis produces a group of unique chemicals called cannabinoids, and they hold most of its medical potential. The most prevalent are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical responsible for marijuana’s high, and cannabidiol (CBD), which is probably the most medically potent cannabinoid we know of at the moment.
As the novel Coronavirus tears through most continents on the planet, one thing that’s become increasingly clear is that we have dropped the ball on hygiene. More than 400,000 have been infected, and governments are imploring residents to practice social distancing coupled with constant and thorough hand washing to curb its spread.
Previous studies have found cannabis to be especially good at cleaning bacteria, with a January 2020 study published in the Cureus Journal finding that it cleaned plaque better than over the counter hygiene products.
“Cannabinoids have the potential to be used as an effective antibacterial agent against dental plaque-associated bacteria. Moreover, it provides a safer alternative to synthetic antibiotics to reduce the development of drug resistance,” the researchers wrote.
Potential Antibiotic Properties
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that antibiotic-resistant bacteria may claim over 50 million lives by 2050, and this brings into question the availability and viability of alternative antibacterial options like cannabis.
Another study by the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Center for Superbug Solutions in Australia into cannabis’ antiseptic properties found that it was not only a potent anti-inflammatory but also has potential as an antibiotic. Researchers concluded that “cannabidiol was remarkably effective at killing a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria, including bacteria that have become resistant to other antibiotics and did not lose effectiveness after extended treatment.”
“Given cannabidiol’s documented anti-inflammatory effects, existing safety data in humans and potential for varied delivery routes, it is a promising new antibiotic worth further investigation,” said Dr. Mark Blaskovich, lead researcher of the University of Queensland’s study. “The combination of inherent antimicrobial activity and potential to reduce damage caused by the inflammatory response to infections is particularly effective.”
Brandon Novy, a microbiology researcher at Reed College in Portland also presented a similar CBD focused study that found cannabidiol has the potential to fight gram-negative infections. Given WHO’s prediction of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, he believes these findings warrant more attention.
Long dormant due to legal and societal restrictions now falling to the side, the uses of CBD and cannabis-derived products continue to grow. As they do, more researchers will be examining the plant and its properties to discover new ways to harness it for healthier living.