Uncovering the Hidden Antibiotic Potential of Cannabis

ACS Infect Dis. 2020 Mar 13;6(3):338-346. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.9b00419. Epub 2020 Feb 6.

Abstract

The spread of antimicrobial resistance continues to be a priority health concern worldwide, necessitating the exploration of alternative therapies. Cannabis sativa has long been known to contain antibacterial cannabinoids, but their potential to address antibiotic resistance has only been superficially investigated. Here, we show that cannabinoids exhibit antibacterial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), inhibit its ability to form biofilms, and eradicate preformed biofilms and stationary phase cells persistent to antibiotics. We show that the mechanism of action of cannabigerol is through targeting the cytoplasmic membrane of Gram-positive bacteria and demonstrate in vivo efficacy of cannabigerol in a murine systemic infection model caused by MRSA. We also show that cannabinoids are effective against Gram-negative organisms whose outer membrane is permeabilized, where cannabigerol acts on the inner membrane. Finally, we demonstrate that cannabinoids work in combination with polymyxin B against multidrug resistant Gram-negative pathogens, revealing the broad-spectrum therapeutic potential for cannabinoids.

Keywords: antibacterial activity; broad spectrum; cannabinoids; drug discovery; in vivo efficacy; membrane activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't