Antibiotic-resistant infections are a major, and growing, health crisis around the world. CBD and mānuka honey could be the next cure in the fight against them.
WHO has shown that the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” as one of the major upcoming heath issues of the 21st century. These cunning, elusive shape-changers are not only capable of surviving an uptick of antibiotics, but they continually change themselves by genetic mutation, gene transfer and natural selection, developing new ways against even the most strongest drugs and create malignant offspring that ruin healthy cells.
Manuka honey nectar of Leptospermum scoparium (more commonly known as tea tree, a plant indigenous to New Zealand and Australia), mānuka honey has unique bacteria-busting abilities that scientists have only recently to discover. A 2016 article published in Frontiers in Microbiology discusses how mānuka honey stops invading bacteria’s ability to produce biofilms. In another study, mānuka was shown to prevent bacterial subdivision, and it appears to evade bacterial resistance. Not only is mānuka honey effective on its own, but it also works synergistically with other antibiotics, increasing their effectiveness.
One of the main reasons for these resistant superbugs is the overuse of antibiotics. It’s estimated that 30% of all prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary, a testament to our culture’s desire for quick-fix solutions to our health problems. Many of these antibiotics are given to livestock, the bulk of use in America, not to mention the pressure put on doctor to prescribe them by big pharma.
One of the most dangerous of these superbugs is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA. This highly contagious bacterial infection is commonly associated with people who have weak immune systems, like children and the elderly. Over the past decade, this strain has popped up in compact environments like schools and daycare facilities; prisons, homeless shelters, and military barracks. CA–MRSA is even turning up in spas, resorts, cruise ships, and nail salons.
One out of every hundred hospitalizations in the United States is due to a MRSA infection, and about a quarter of those become serious, killing 20,000 people each year. A recent report by the CDC indicates that hospitals have made progress in reducing rates of MRSA, but CA–MRSA rates have not declined and now comprise 80% of all MRSA infections. The disease has become so prevalent that October 2 is known as “World MRSA Day.”
The Good News
The good news is that several plant cannabinoids have been shown to destroy strains of Staphylococcus aureus. A 2008 study in the Journal of Natural Products, published by the American Chemical Society, found that cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG), two nonintoxicating cannabinoids, “showed potent activity against a variety of MRSA strains.” Three other plant cannabinoids – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabichromene (CBC) – also showed encouraging results in preclinical research. How the cannabinoids work is not fully known, but it appears to be due to its natural antimicrobial defense systems in place.
The study concluded: “Given the availability of C. sativa strains producing high concentrations of nonpsychotropic cannabinoids, this plant represents an interesting source of antibacterial agents to address the problem of multidrug resistance in MRSA and other pathogenic bacteria. This issue has enormous clinical implications, since MRSA is spreading throughout the world and, in the United States, currently accounts for more deaths each year than AIDS. Although the use of cannabinoids as systemic antibacterial agents awaits rigorous clinical trials … their topical application to reduce skin colonization by MRSA seems promising.”