Cannabis Compounds Combat Drug-Resistant Bacterial Infections

Jenn Hoskins
6th April, 2024

Cannabis Compounds Combat Drug-Resistant Bacterial Infections

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at ICAR-NDRI found Cannabis sativa L. extract effectively inhibits MRSA
  • The extract not only stops MRSA growth but also kills the bacteria and disrupts biofilms
  • Cannabinoids like cannabidiol and Δ9-THC are the active components in the extract
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has become a critical challenge in the realm of healthcare, affecting humans and animals alike. One of the most formidable opponents in this battle is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium known for its tenacity and ability to outsmart many of the drugs designed to kill it. MRSA can cause infections in various parts of the body, and its resistance to antibiotics makes it a tough adversary to defeat. Recent research conducted by the ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) has focused on finding plant-based solutions to this growing problem[1]. This study is particularly relevant in light of the frequent therapeutic failures in treating bovine mastitis, a common and costly disease in dairy cattle caused by pathogens like MRSA[2][3]. The disease not only affects animal welfare but also poses significant economic burdens due to reduced milk production and the need for early culling of affected animals. The NDRI study tested ten plant-derived ethanolic leaf extracts for their ability to combat MRSA. The results were promising, showing that the extract from Cannabis sativa L. had the most significant inhibitory effect on MRSA, followed by extracts from Syzygium cumini and Murraya koenigii. Other plants such as Aloe barbadensis and Azadirachta indica showed minimal impact, and some, including Mangifera indica and Curcuma longa, had no effect at all. The Cannabis sativa L. extract not only inhibited MRSA but also displayed bactericidal properties, meaning it could kill the bacteria rather than merely stopping its growth. The minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC)—the lowest concentration of the extract that prevents bacterial growth—was found to be 0.25 mg/ml. Impressively, even at half this concentration, the extract could reduce the formation of biofilms by 71%. Biofilms are protective layers that bacteria create to shield themselves from antibiotics, and their presence is a significant factor in the difficulty of treating MRSA infections. The cannabinoids cannabidiol and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) were identified as the active components in the Cannabis extract responsible for this inhibitory action. When researchers observed the bacteria under a microscope after treatment with the extract, they noted a clear reduction in the number of cells, indicative of the extract's effectiveness. This study is particularly significant considering the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in bovine mastitis[3]. It underscores the potential for cannabinoids to serve as an alternative to traditional antibiotics, which are becoming increasingly ineffective due to the spread of resistance genes through mobile genetic elements[4]. The findings of the NDRI study offer hope for a new, plant-based weapon in the fight against AMR. The use of cannabinoids to disrupt biofilms and directly kill MRSA could revolutionize the treatment of bovine mastitis and potentially curb the economic losses and animal welfare issues it causes. Additionally, this approach could mitigate the public health risks associated with the consumption of milk from infected cows and the potential for AMR pathogens to transfer to humans. In conclusion, the NDRI's investigation into the antibacterial properties of plant extracts, particularly Cannabis sativa L., provides a promising avenue for developing alternative therapies for MRSA infections. This is a significant step forward in addressing the challenges posed by AMR in both veterinary and human medicine. As the global community continues to grapple with the threat of drug-resistant bacteria, research such as this becomes ever more crucial in safeguarding the health of future generations.

MedicineBiotechPlant Science


Main Study

1) Antimicrobial and antibiofilm effect of cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) causing bovine mastitis.

Published 3rd April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Combating Bovine Mastitis in the Dairy Sector in an Era of Antimicrobial Resistance: Ethno-veterinary Medicinal Option as a Viable Alternative Approach.

3) Co-infection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and extended spectrum β-lactamase producing Escherichia coli in bovine mastitis--three cases reported from India.

4) Novel aadA5 and dfrA17 variants of class 1 integron in multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli causing bovine mastitis.

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