The search for antimicrobials often leads scientists into the unlikeliest of areas. New research shows that the leaves of the cannabis plant have an antimicrobial effect, including efficacy against drug resistant forms of Staphylococcus aureus.
Scientists working at Saaii College of Medical Science and Technology together with colleagues at and the University of Gour Banga in India demonstrated how ethanol-based tinctures, which contain crushed leaves of Cannabis sativa exhibit an ability to inhibit methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to Laboratory Roots.
The research built on previous studies that had shown how cannabis leaves have some effect on certain types of bacteria. The significance of the new research is due to the demonstrated ability to suppress the growth of MRSA, a major hospital pathogen.
The results demonstrated that individual extracts on inhibited MRSA growth. Additional studies showed that when the cannabis leaves extracts were combined with those of an evergreen coniferous tree – Thuja orientalis the effects were far greater. This led the researchers to conclude: “Ethanolic extract of C. sativa alone and in combination with T. orientalis provided two potential therapeutic agents for use against MRSA infections.”
Scanning electron micrograph of a human neutrophil ingesting MRSA
The researchers also refer to this as a “profound synergism”. Similar effects have been noted where cannabis is used in combination with Psidium guajava (lemon guava).
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections are caused by a type of staph bacteria that has become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. The MRSA bacterium assessed had previous shown resistance to methicillin, penicillin, oxacillin and cefoxitin antibiotics.
In terms of what is happening, the researchers used high-performance thin-layer chromatography to identify and to study bioactive molecules in each of the leaf extracts. With cannabis, the germ-fighting properties may relate to five separate cannabinoids, plus some non-cannabinoid constituents in the plant, like terpenoids. The biomolecules of interest are: quercetin, gallic acid and catechin.
At this stage the research is based on laboratory studies only and the effects have not been tested out with people. This means that further research will be required, and considerable data will need to be accumulated before the potential for any new medication can be realized.
The research has been published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine. The research paper is headed “Antimicrobial activity of Cannabis sativa, Thuja orientalis and Psidium guajava leaf extracts against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.”