Recently, the Cannabis or more popularly known as Marijuana has been in the spotlight again as many states in America have made regulations to legalize the use of the recreational drug for medical purposes. As of now there are at least 23 states in the US which approves the use of Medical Marijuana, which are California, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Alaska, Arizona to name a few.
Strikingly, a new study finds another advantage of using Cannabis, dubbing it to be the ‘future super-antibiotic’…
A Game Changing Study
In 2008, however, a first of its kind study conducted by a team of British and Italian researchers had already found that one of the world’s most commonly cultivated plants could stop MRSA in its tracks: 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.
Cannabinoids are substances unique to the cannabis plant that have wide-ranging medicinal properties: they fight cancer, reverse inflammation and act as powerful antioxidants. Now we know that they are also some of the most powerful antibiotics on earth.
“Everything points towards these compounds having been evolved by the plants as antimicrobial defenses that specifically target bacterial cells,” said Simon Gibbons, one of the authors of the study and head of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry at the University College London School of Pharmacy, in a follow up interview in the MIT Technological Review.
Amazingly, the cannabinoids even showed “exceptional activity” against a strain of the MRSA that had developed extra proteins for increased resistance to antibiotics, showing that cannabis remained effective despite the bacteria’s adaptations.
“The actual mechanism by which they kill the bugs is still a mystery…” said Gibbons. “I really cannot hazard a guess how they do it, but their high potency as antibiotics suggests there must be a very specific mechanism.”
The researchers recommend cannabis as the source of new and effective antibiotic products that can be used in institutional settings right now.
“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,” said Giovanni Appendino, a professor at Italy’s Piemonte Orientale University and co-author of the study.
Since two of the most potently antibacterial cannabinoids were not psychoactive at all and appear in abundance in the common and fast-growing hemp plant, producing the antibiotics of the future could be quick and simple.
“What this means is, we could use fiber hemp plants that have no use as recreational drugs to cheaply and easily produce potent antibiotics,” Appendino concluded.
How is that for an action plan, Obama?
The Hidden History Of A Miracle Plant
But introducing cannabis into the formal healthcare system is nothing new; the plant has been used as medicine by different cultures for millennia. 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 look at marijuana’s traditional use around the globe ever written. 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, while its narcotic use is limited to certain areas and historical periods.
“All the information obtained from European folk medicine with regard to treatment with cannabis shows clearly that there do not appear to be any narcotic substances in it, or if there are then only in a negligible amount,” the authors claim. “Instead of that, emphasis has been laid on the antiseptic effect, hence on the antibiotic and to a small extent even on the analgetic (analgesic) effect.”
The same pattern was found in ancient Egypt, where “papyruses point fundamentally to antiseptic use” and in modern African tribes, where the “analgetic, sedative and antibiotic properties of cannabis in internal and external application are well known.”
In South American folk medicine, marijuana was used for everything from gonorrhea to tuberculosis, according to the paper, and in Southern Rhodesia “it is a remedy for anthrax, sepsis, dysentery, malaria and for tropical quinine-malarial haemoglobinuria.”
Even as late as the 19th century, cannabis was used by Western doctors to combat serious illnesses at home and abroad. An 1843 article in London’s Provincial Medical Journal, for example, chronicles an Irish doctor’s success in treating both tetanus and cholera in India by using cannabis in the form of crude hemp resin. Both these diseases are caused by bacteria and were major killers at the time.
A potent and commonly used medicine, cannabis was added to the official U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1851, where it remained until it was removed in 1942. Coincidentally, the widespread manufacture and use of early commercial antibiotics — like penicillin, which was first isolated in 1929 but not mass produced until 1945 — happened at the same time as cannabis was taken out of medicinal use.
The next half a century saw the touting of antibiotics as miracle drugs while marijuana came to be almost completely associated with getting “high” — its potent medicinal properties obscured behind a cloud of fear and propaganda.
It is only in the last couple of decades that the failure of antibiotics and clinical medicine to address a fast growing number of serious illnesses has driven people to rediscover the miraculous healing powers of this ancient plant.