Amidst the sea of stories and studies about the medicinal properties of cannabis, one potential application doesn’t get much coverage: using cannabis as an antibiotic.
While research into the antiseptic and antibiotic properties of marijuana is not the focal point of current efforts to study the plant, some health care officials and medical researchers are looking toward cannabis as a tool to combat the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.
They think cannabis may be able to effectively thwart some “super-bugs” that have evolved due to the widespread use of antibiotics in hospitals and clinics across the United States.
MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), for example, which causes over 10,000 deaths each year according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), is a direct byproduct of over-using antibiotics, which bred a stronger and more dangerous version of the common Staph aureus bacteria.
Few know that despite the easy availability of medical marijuana for patients, medical research on cannabis has historically been hampered by tough federal restrictions on the drug, but recently the tide is shifting.
The federal prohibition on medical marijuana was lifted through a provision in 2015’s federal spending bill, which passed in December.
But the government’s restrictions haven’t, of course, stopped all medical studies of marijuana, and an important trial conducted back in 2008 is receiving newfound attention.
The 2008 study was a first of its kind, conducted by a team of British and Italian researchers who had already found that one of the world’s most commonly cultivated plants could stop MRSA dead: marijuana.
Specifically, the team tested five of marijuana’s most common cannabinoids against six different MRSA strains of “clinical relevance”, including epidemic EMRSA strains, which are the ones responsible for hospital outbreaks.
They found that every single one of the cannabinoids tested showed “potent activity” against a wide variety of the bacteria.
In other words, the study shows that marijuana may be one of the most powerful antibiotics out there. Add that to the ever-growing list of the wide-ranging medicinal properties provided by cannabinoids, which have been shown to fight cancer, reverse inflammation and act as powerful antioxidants.
Even more remarkable is that our ancestors have realized the potent antibiotic effects of cannabinoids for thousands of years.
A 1960 paper by Professors Dr. J. Kabelik and Dr. F. Santavy of Palacky University in the Czech Republic entitled Marijuana as a Medicament is perhaps the most comprehensive text ever written about marijuana’s traditional use around the globe.
Surprisingly, the authors claim that for most cultures and for most time periods, cannabis was used as an antibiotic and treatment for chronic illnesses first and foremost.
The same pattern was found in ancient Egypt, where papyruses, including hemp, “point fundamentally to antiseptic use,” according to the paper.
(Photo Credit: theguardian.com)