Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now one of the top health concerns of the world. Scientists are calling these bacteria “super-bugs” due to the fact they have developed antibiotic resistance to the drugs used to treat many common infections. One example of this would be Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which, commonly found in hospitals, is responsible for thousands of related deaths each year. People with a weakened immune system are at risk the most, but healthy people can also become infected when exposed to the bacteria. During office, President Obama issued an executive order and budgeted funds for the establishment of a special task force devoted to the issue, so they could create an action plan for preventing the rapid spread of bacteria resistant to antibiotics like MRSA.
Medical cannabis has been used throughout the centuries in the treatment of bacterial infections responsible for global epidemics, such as tuberculous and gonorrhea. In 1976, research revealed CBD and THC were both effective against strep and staph infections. (1) In 2008, a major study was conducted on the effect of cannabinoids on multidrug-resistant bacteria, with researchers discovering that all five of the cannabinoids studied (THC, CBD, CBC, CBG, and CBN) were potent against bacteria. A topical antiseptic used directly on the affected areas was found to be the most effective way of treating the infection with the cannabinoids, however, oral CBD oil can be used as systemic antibacterial agents.(2)
Surprisingly, there's news that the terpene and essential oil pinene has been found to be as effective against MRSA as vancomycin and other agents. Pinene can also increase the skins permeability, which is a large barrier against the uptake of phytocannabinoids. Looking into the power of CBD/CBG extracts with pinene may be advantageous in the fight against MRSA and other treatment-resistant bacteria.
Giovanni Appendino, a professor at Italy’s Piemonte Orientale University and co-author of the 2008 study wrote, “The most practical application of cannabinoids would be as topical agents to treat ulcers and wounds in a hospital environment, decreasing the burden of antibiotics.”
When it comes to CBD or medicinal marijuana, regardless of the country in which you live, it’s recommended that you work with a health care practitioner who has experience in prescribing cannabis products so that the dose and delivery method can be customized to the individual. In saying that, some people who have taken the time to educate themselves can become their own highly informed and aware health consultants using journaling and other self-monitoring methods. As always, prior to making any changes to your treatment plan, consult with a licenced medical professional. The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice.
Topical cannabis products such as balms, lotions and salves can be made with high-CBD strains. This method of applying the balm directly to the skin is used when bacterial infections affect the skin or wound site. Topical products that contain THC, affect the cells near application, but they do not cross the blood-brain barrier, which means the psychoactive effects of THC are neutralized. These products may be available as salves, balms, ointments, oils, sprays, or other forms, and with varying ratios of CBD and THC (a ratio of 1:1 is often recommended as ideal for skin application). The skin happens to have the highest concentration and amount of cannabinoid-2 (CB2) receptors in the body. Based on the 2008 study referenced earlier in this article, cannabis products containing any of the major cannabinoids can work against an antibiotic-resistant infection.
When it comes to oral cannabinoid products, always start with a micro dose to test sensitivity and work your way up as needed until symptoms subside. As with all cannabis use, you can always take more, but you can’t take less. So use the titration method and start low and slow.
The Cannabis Health Index (CHI) is a scoring system based on the available research in the medical literature. Based on the few available studies, for the treatment of MRSA, cannabis rates as possibly effective.
The endocannabinoid system plays a major role in the healing and formation of scar tissue on the skin. In a study from 2010, researchers discovered cannabinoid-1 (CB1) receptors increased at the site of skin injuries starting from six hours post-injury, peaking at five days, and returning to baseline by fourteen days. (3) This tells us, there’s potentially a window of opportunity to apply phytocannabinoids to specific areas during times of healing and repair.
To date, we have three other articles covering how cannabinoids assist with hair and skin health if you’re interested in this area, called, Hemp for Psoriasis & Eczema, How Hemp Skincare Works, and How Hemp Works for Hair Loss.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system of physiology inside your body responsible for maintaining balance and order across all other major systems of the body, from the reproductive, digestive, lymphatic, to the circulatory and cardiovascular system. The ECS produces its own form of cannabinoids called “endocannabinoids” which act like keys that unlock the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) located throughout the entire body.
When the body is under attack or stress, the ECS appears to help in the fight, as it attempts to bring balance back. When the ECS is overwhelmed and overstressed for too long, it can become chronically ill, leading to states of chronic illness such as autoimmunity. When we supply the ECS with micro-doses of cannabinoids from plants called “phytocannabinoids” over time, we can assist in nourishing and repairing the ECS so it can go back to restoring balance and order across the body, in some cases, bringing relief to autoimmunity conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, endometriosis, and multiple sclerosis.
One study from 2018 found that endocannabinoids are a natural line of defense against the spread of MRSA, (4) with the same researchers publishing another study two years later showing there is great potential in combining endocannabinoids with antibiotic-like compounds to treat staph infections. (5)
A study from 2020 analyzing the available literature had researchers conclude that cannabis is “a plant with untapped potential” that “should not be overlooked or overshadowed by its overuse as a recreational drug.” They went on to say, “several cannabinoids have been found to have potent antimicrobial activity against gram-positive pathogens such as MRSA isolates. Endocannabinoids have been shown to be effective. There is also evidence that other compounds found cannabis such as terpenes have promising antimicrobial activity, which warrants further investigation.”
“As bacteria are rapidly developing resistance against existing drugs, cannabinoids present a novel and exciting opportunity as a potential new source of antibiotics.” (6)
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