In April 2014, the World Health Organization published a thorough report, the first of its kind, on the topic of antimicrobial resistance. The conclusions were undeniable: all around the world, antibiotics is losing its ability to fight bacteria and infections.
Dr. Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General Health Security who is quoted in the report says that ““Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,” Dr. Fukuda states that Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating.”
According to the report, antibiotic resistance can lead to longer recovery times and might also increase the death risk. People diagnosed with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), for instance, are believed to be 64% more likely to die since this bacteria type is resistant to antibiotics. The MIT Technological Review finds that antibiotics resistance also increases the cost of treatments due to longer hospital stays and a need for more intensive care.
In 2008, a groundbreaking, comprehensive research found that five different types of common cannabinoids and their synthetic forms (THC, CBD, CBG, CBC, CBN) are effective in treating bacteria. This research, which was conducted by a team of researchers from the UK and Italy, examined the cannabinoids’ ability to treat six types of MRSA, including those responsible for hospital outbreaks.
The research discovered that considering the availability if sativa-type cannabis, which offers high concentration rates on non-psychoactive cannabinoids, the cannabis plant is an interesting resource for antibacterial agents with the ability to answer the MRSA resistance problem, as well as other pathogenic bacteria. This revelation is highly important considering how widespread MRSA is becoming nowadays. In the US, for instance, it is responsible for more deaths than HIV.
The most practical use for cannabinoids, according to Prof. Giovanni Appendino of Amedeo Avogadro University of Eastern Piedmont who participated in conducting the research, is “to treat ulcers and wounds in a hospital environment, decreasing the burden of antibiotics.” Appendino states that “The topical use of cannabis preparations has a long tradition in European medicine, and no allergies have been reported.” Therefore, it is possible that in the near future, medical cannabis will become a leading option to replace antibiotics and other treatments for bacteria and infections.
This is yet another exciting and innovative use case for medical cannabis, which offers many medical uses to assist patients around the world in solving a wide range of health problems.