Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Marijuana May Fight Bacteria

According to a recent article in the New York times, researchers in Italy and Britain have found that the main active ingredient in marijuana — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and related compounds show promise as antibacterial agents, particularly against microbial strains that are already resistant to several classes of drugs.

Research in the 1950's tested various marijuana preparations to see how they responded to skin and other infections so it has been known for decades that cannabis sativa possesses antibacterial properties. Most people are unaware of this research, however.

Back then, researchers had little understanding about the chemical makeup of marijuana. The current research has helped increase scientific understanding of this topic. Giovanni Appendino and colleagues, of the University of the Eastern Piedmont, looked at the antibacterial activity of the five most common cannabinoids. All were effective against several common multiresistant bacterial strains, although, perhaps understandably, the researchers suggested that the nonpsychotropic cannabinoids might prove more promising for eventual use.

The researchers say they do not know how the cannabinoids work or whether they would be effective, as systemic antibiotics would require much more research and trials. But the compounds may prove useful sooner as a topical agent against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, to prevent the microbes from colonizing on the skin.

The study was led by Giovanni Appendino, of the University of the Eastern Piedmont, and published in The Journal of Natural Products.

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