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Cannabis instead of antibiotics?

Following the legalisation of cannabis sativa for research and medicinal purposes, it has increasingly become the subject of scientific research. It is also enjoying well-deserved popularity among patients. Today, medicinal cannabis remedies are prescribed for a wide range of diseases, including skin diseases such as psoriasis, lupus, and acne. Its effects on skin diseases caused by microorganisms have been the subject of research by a team of scientists, together with Mgr. Vít Hubka PhD working at the Department of Botany of the Faculty of Science of Charles University and the Institute of Microbiology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.

What discoveries does the latest research bring us regarding the effects of THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol acid)? Do scientific studies prove the positive effects of cannabis or are they simply a myth? Using traditional solvents such as ethanol and butane, scientists have managed to extract a highly potent substance from cannabis which has led them to conduct a study focusing on its antimicrobial and antifungal activities.

source: Unsplash, author: Kimzy Nanney

The human body is normally populated by a diverse range of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi which together form the microflora. Under normal conditions, these organisms typically live in harmony with each other and the host. However, disruption of these relationships can cause a range of diseases, and imbalances in the microbiome can also result in skin diseases. Currently, more than 25% of the world’s population are affected by some form of skin disease. Many of such conditions are caused by dermatophytes, and fungi that infect the skin, hair, and nails. Dermatomycoses can often be subtle, but can have a significant impact on patient wellbeing. Bacteria are not excluded from this phenomenon either, with some usually harmless pathogens sometimes causing severe infections that can later develop into serious conditions. Currently, infections of this type are treated mostly with topical or systemic antibiotics. This means that, regrettably, the resistance of these infecting organisms to antibiotics is also increasing, making treatment less effective in some cases. The discovery of a new type of (preferably targeted) drug would solve this problem.

THCA structure
source: Wikipedia

In this research, the dried inflorescences of two varieties of cannabis – Forbidden Fruit and Chocolope – grown under strict scrutiny at the Department of Food Science of the Czech University of Life Sciences were used. Highly potent extracts were then prepared by cold extraction (maceration). The chemical profile of the extract was subsequently determined using different detection techniques such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Various cannabinoids, particularly tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA, represented the majority content (even more than 60%). THCA is known for its anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and anticancer effects, and is not psychoactive.

The effect of the extract was tested on 19 different skin disease-causing organisms. An inhibitory effect was demonstrated on some bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and some species of the genus Streptococcus. Functional activity against pathogens was recorded in 18 cases, with bacteria being more sensitive to the extract than dermatophytes.

Thus, this research provides new evidence that cannabis extracts may be of value in the treatment of skin diseases caused by various microorganisms and significantly supports the idea that cannabis could serve as an alternative or complementary treatment to commonly used antibiotics.


Tereza Žirovnická

Skala T, Kahánková Z, Tauchen J, Janatová A, Klouček P, Hubka V and Fraňková A (2022) Medical cannabis dimethyl ether, ethanol and butane extracts inhibit the in vitro growth of bacteria and dermatophytes causing common skin diseases. Front. Microbiol. 

Published: Jan 09, 2023 06:05 PM

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