Does Cannabis Kills Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria?
Estimated 5-minute read
Last week I got sick. I went out partying and as I was coming back home it started to rain. When I got to my house, I realized it was closed and there was no one there. I had to jump across the backyard and open the door with some old but functional tricks. At the end of a while getting wet in the rain, I was able to enter. Since I was kind of drunk, wet and tired, I just took my clothes off, dried my hair and went to sleep. The next day I noticed a sore throat and I think my immune system was exceeded because of the hangover, the stress, college, life etc. So, I got sick. I went to the doctor and asked him if he can give me the treatment subcutaneously, by injections, so I can heal as quickly as possible. Those three days of treatment I abstained from smoking. Since I had an infection in the respiratory tract, cigarettes were obviously avoided, but marijuana, I thought it might even help me. I told myself for convenience, sometimes it is medicine, so that's fine. In the end I decided to investigate to find out what was the best for my recovery while smoking marijuana or if I should abstain completely because of the effect it could have with the medicine. As I was reading about it, I went deeper into the subject. I began to see if it was safe to smoke marijuana if I am taking antibiotics and I ended up concluding that some cannabis components are very promising to treat bacteria that have been gaining resistance to traditional drugs.
Can I smoke weed while taking antibiotics?
Consuming weed doesn't just produce a high. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD influence the body's endocannabinoid system, resulting in a powerful and complex biochemical effect. Your body breaks down and metabolizes everything you consume, including cannabinoids.
Being a detoxifying organ and one of the epicenters of metabolism, the liver plays a very important role in this process. Or more specifically, the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes, which are responsible for metabolizing various cannabinoids.
Research on interactions between THC and antibiotics is very scarce. Although THC and some antibiotics affect the same important liver enzymes, the risk of serious interactions appears to be relatively low, however this is based on anecdotal information only. In fact, no comprehensive study has been done on this risk, but there are reports documenting adverse effects in people who have taken both substances simultaneously.
What about CBD?
CBD also acts as a strong inhibitor of cytochrome P450 enzyme, and therefore could alter the metabolism of certain antibiotics and predispose patients to adverse events and a higher risk of experiencing side effects.
However, some say that the interactions between marijuana and some antibiotics are harmless and sometimes they can complement each other for a specific desired result. According to the Cannabis Resource Center (MCTCI), any interactions that have been identified are very minor, and in fact, doctors are currently testing to see if some antibiotics work more favorably when mixed with marijuana. For example, marijuana has been shown to potentiate the anticoagulant effect of warfarin by interrupting its metabolism through the mechanism of action.
However, it is not recommended to experiment on your own, even if your sources are very reliable you must always ask your doctor. If you are sick, and you need medicine, make sure to ask your doctor if it is safe to smoke marijuana or if you should quit while you recover. Auto medication and self-exploration makes bacteria and viruses adapt and evolve, making them more resistant to common medicine. This has become an alarming situation, and is the next topic, some cannabinoids have been promising as antibacterial medicine.
The antimicrobial potential of cannabis
As I was saying, the growing resistance to antibiotics threatens the health of the world population, since it increases the risk of infection in surgeries, chemotherapy cycles, organ transplants as well as dialysis and chronic diseases.
But what is antibiotic resistance? Antibiotics have saved millions of lives and continue to do so. But bacteria don't just sit around waiting. Like all other life forms on earth, they can adapt to threats, overcome challenges and ensure their own survival.
Like other organisms, bacteria undergo random mutations; some of them are of a functional nature while others are completely useless. However, occasionally, a mutation occurs that improves an organism's ability to adapt and survive.
However, research has found that cannabidiol, the main non-psychoactive component of cannabis, has bactericidal properties. Mark A. Blaskovich and his colleagues at the University of Queensland have been some of the first that evaluated the compound’s activity against multiple bacteria.
According to the results, cannabidiol inhibited the growth of pathogens such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, multi-antibiotic resistant streptococcus pneumoniae, enterococcus faecalis between others that appear on the list of priority pathogens for which new antibiotics are required, published by the World Health Organization.
It appears that cannabidiol degrades the bacteria membrane, causing the bacteria to die, although researchers do not know the exact molecular mechanism. However, Blaskovich and his team point out an important limitation of cannabinol: its instability in the bloodstream, where it undergoes rapid degradation that could limit its therapeutic potential.
Even so, Blaskovich is hopeful, since the introduction of small modifications in the structure of the compound gives it greater durability, without affecting its antibiotic action. Soon, they hope to start clinical trials with formulation of cannabidiol.
So, weed may also be used not only as alternative medicine, but now actual antibiotics may also be produced from marijuana. Seems that the time of the mushrooms may be expired, and bacteria stand no chance against the more than 60 compounds of marihuana that naturally will fight them in consequence of the race of plants and bacteria they have had for centuries.
Doheny, K. (2019). CBD as a Superbug Antibiotic?. WebMD. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/news/20190624/cbd-as-a-superbug-antibiotic
Swaim, E. (2022). CBD May Kill Some Bacteria, But It's Not a Replacement for Antibiotics. Healthline. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/does-cbd-kill-bacteria
University of Queensland. (2021, January 19). Research establishes antibiotic potential for cannabis molecule: The main nonpsychoactive component of cannabis has been shown to kill Gram-negative bacteria for the first time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210119102842.htm