The Antibacterial Potential of Cannabis

Sabine Downer
Nov 6, 2018 · 3 min read

Will Cannabis be the next antibiotic?

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Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

The Growing Need for Novel Antibiotics

Cannabinoids Combating Bacterial Infections

Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are the product of decarboxylation. Carboxyl groups are molecules that contain a specific arrangement of carbon and oxygen atoms. Decarboxylation removes that group from the rest of the chemical compound. This releases CO2 and changes the compound into a new version of the compound. For cannabinoids, this reaction takes place when the cannabinoids are heated and results in an active form that can act on human brain chemistry.

The antibacterial properties of cannabis are uniquely found in both the carboxylated and decarboxylated versions of cannabinoids. Testing suggests that cannabinoids work against bacteria through “lipid affinity,” similar to how antibacterial soaps work. Because cannabinoids fight bacteria in a way that is different from the way most current antibiotics work, they are an attractive option to consider in developing new antibiotics that can combat highly resistant bacterial strains. Cannabinoid extracts have also shown antioxidant activity.

Bacteria Susceptible to Cannabinoids

From Field to Pharmacy

More study is needed to consider the influences of genetic strain and extraction method on antibacterial activity. Some researchers have reported only modest antibacterial properties in cannabis extracts, but further studies have noted that strain and extraction methods can be a major factor inactivity. With the evidence for the antibacterial properties of cannabinoids growing, cannabis has real potential to become the next penicillin.

References

Chakraborty, S., Afaq, N., Singh, N., & Majumdar, S. (2018). Antimicrobial activity of Cannabis sativa, Thuja orientalis and Psidium guajava leaf extracts against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Journal of integrative medicine, 16(5), 350–357.

Lone, T. A., & Lone, R. A. (2012). Extraction of cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa L. plant and its potential antimicrobial activity. Universal Journal of Medicine and Dentistry, 1(4), 51–55.

Isahq, M. S., Afridi, M. S., Ali, J., Hussain, M. M., Ahmad, S., & Kanwal, F. (2015). Proximate composition, phytochemical screening, GC-MS studies of biologically active cannabinoids and antimicrobial activities of Cannabis indica. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease, 5(11), 897–902.

Nissen, L., Zatta, A., Stefanini, I., Grandi, S., Sgorbati, B., Biavati, B., & Monti, A. (2010). Characterization and antimicrobial activity of essential oils of industrial hemp varieties (Cannabis sativa L.). Fitoterapia, 81(5), 413–419.

Novak, J., Zitterl‐Eglseer, K., Deans, S. G., & Franz, C. M. (2001). Essential oils of different cultivars of Cannabis sativa L. and their antimicrobial activity. Flavour and fragrance journal, 16(4), 259–262.

Sabine Downer

Written by

After 8 years as a laboratory scientist I have turned my passion for knowledge to content writing.

Sabine Downer

Written by

After 8 years as a laboratory scientist I have turned my passion for knowledge to content writing.

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