Cannabis Compound could Cure Common Superbug

20th January 2020

A cannabinoid made by the Cannabis plant has been found to have potential in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to researchers from McMaster University in Ontario. Cannabis compound, cannabigerol (CBG), was found to be effective in killing one of the most common hospital ‘superbugs’. 

The researchers tested five different Cannabis compounds for possible antibiotic effects. The scientists found that one of the most promising interactions was between CBG and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is one of the most common bacterial bugs found in hospitals.

The Cannabis compound was found to kill a significant number of MRSA microbes in test tube studies. In addition, the non-psychoactive compound also killed ‘persistor’ cells, which are particularly resistant to antibiotics. These cells are known to cause repeat infections. Further, CBG killed MRSA microfilm, which often persists on the skin and medical implants.

In order to test their findings further, the researchers also tested the effects of CBG on MRSA-infected mice. The research showed that CBG was as effective in treating the infection as vancomycin – an antibiotic which is commonly used, and considered to be a last line of defense against drug-resistant bacteria. The study has not yet been published and is currently under review at the ACS Infectious Diseases journal.

The Lead Microbiologist of the study, Mike Brown claimed that:

“There is much work to do to explore the potential of the cannabinoids as antibiotics from the safety standpoint, [but cannabinoids are] clearly great drug-like compounds”.

Cannabis is thought to produce CBG to protect it from invading pathogens and bacteria. Researcher of Cannabis antibacterials, Mark Blaskovich, claims that Cannabis has a particularly high number of antibacterials. However, he notes that they are often not effective inside the body.

He adds:

“That’s what makes this new report potentially exciting – evidence that cannabigerol is able to treat a systemic infection in mice.”

CBG is produced in the Cannabis plant in relatively small amounts. However, the McMaster University researchers were able to synthesise the Cannabis compound in the lab. As bacteria becomes more resistant to antibiotics, fears that the drugs may become obsolete have caused worldwide concern.


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