Cannabinoids kill hospital superbug MRSA

Posted on Sept. 8, 2008, 6:35 a.m. in Infectious Disease Medical Marijuana

Chemicals found in marijuana called Cannabinoids may prove useful in the fight against the antibiotic-resistant superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), new research suggests.

Results of a study by researchers in Italy and the UK has revealed that the five major cannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant are effective against different strains of MRSA. Two of the cannabinoids tested are nonpsychotropic, which means that they do not possess the mood-altering properties associated with marijuana. Furthermore, the researchers found that the cannabinoids kill bacteria in a different way to traditional antibacterial drugs, thus meaning that MRSA may not be able to develop resistance against them.

The authors write: “Although the use of cannabinoids as systemic antibacterial agents awaits rigorous clinical trials and an assessment of the extent of their inactivation by serum, their topical application to reduce skin colonization by MRSA seems promising.”

The study authors said that their findings highlight the need for further study into the antibacterial properties of cannabinoids: “this plant represents an interesting source of antibacterial agents to address the problem of multidrug resistance in MRSA and other pathogenic bacteria. This issue has enormous clinical implications, since MRSA is spreading throughout the world and, in the United States, currently accounts for more deaths each year than AIDS.”

Appendino G, Gibbons S, Giana A, Pagani A, Grassi G, Starvi M, Smith E, Rahman MM. Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure—Activity study. Journal of Natural Products. 2008;71:1427-1430.

 

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