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Do certain Cannabinoids have Antibacterial Properties?
In early 2020, researchers discovered that one of the many cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, CBG (cannabigerol), has antibacterial properties against drug resistant MRSA.
CBG accomplished this by zeroing in on the bacteria’s cell membrane. The lab findings pertained to mice infected with an MRSA infection who were given CBG.
MRSA, which is an abbreviation for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a kind of staph infection resistant to methicillin – a common antibiotic type – making it a threatening and, in some cases, fatal bacterial infection.
This isn’t the first time that CBG’s role as a potential antibacterial agent has seen the limelight. In 2008, a study discovered that CBG holds promise as an antibacterial agent as far as treating MRSA is concerned. The report revealed that CBG holds promising potential in treating bacteria that are resistant to traditional forms of antibiotics.
What is CBG?
CBG is just one of well over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant that scientists have discovered so far. However, it’s not as common as, say, CBD or THC – meaning that it isn’t found in particularly large quantities in the cannabis plant.
CBG is actually a precursor to CBC, CBD and THC. That’s why this cannabinoid is sometimes referred to as the ‘stem cell’. The inactive form of CBG, known as CBGA, changes and breaks down – causing it to become the base molecule from which other cannabinoids can form – including CBD, CBC and THC.
CBG’s potential as an Antibacterial Agent
The potential for certain cannabinoids within cannabis as a source of healing isn’t something new. For many centuries, cannabis has been the centre of folk medicine. Today, in fact, scientists are merely beginning to understand the effect cannabinoids such as CBD and especially CBG may have in treating a variety of diseases.
Studies dating back to several years have clearly shown that certain cannabinoids are highly effective at slowing down the growth of gram-positive bacteria, namely S. aureus, but not gram-negative bacteria like E. coli.
Eric Brown, a biochemistry and biomedical sciences professor at McMaster University, set out to test the antibacterial properties of many cannabinoids against gram-negative and MRSA. The antibacterial activity of 18 cannabinoids against MRSA was tested, including CBG. The cannabinoids’ ability to prevent the formation of biofilms on surfaces and to destroy the inherent MRSA “persistor” which is highly resistant to antibiotics, was also assessed.
It was reported that CBG performed the best in this regard. When mice infected with MRSA were treated with CBG, the cannabinoid worked as effectively as Vancomycin, which is a well-known and very potent antibiotic.
Brown and his team of researchers concluded that CBG targets the main cell membrane of gram-positive bacteria on its own, but isn’t capable of targeting gram-negative bacteria, which have an extra outer membrane. However, they also discovered that when CBG is administered with another drug that’s capable of ‘poking holes’ in this outer membrane, it would allow the cannabinoid to penetrate the inner membrane in order to effectively kill the gram-negative bacteria.
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