CBG Research Exhibits Antimicrobial Properties of Hashish
Cannabis has been used for its antimicrobial properties for thousands of years, but only recently have these benefits surfaced in Western medicine. A recent study highlights previously unknown antimicrobial properties of cannabis.
While the study focuses on several cannabinoids, it brings out CBG as a cannabinoid to pay attention to in terms of its antibiotic abilities.
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What is CBG?
CBG – cannabigerol – is a cannabinoid of the cannabis plant. Unlike it’s counterparts THC and CBD, it is found in only very small quantities, making up approximately 1% of a harvest-ready plant. Like CBD, and unlike THC, it doesn’t produce a psychoactive effect. CBG comes from its acidic precursor, CBGA. CBGA in turn is converted into cannabinoids like THCA – tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, CBDA – cannabidiolic acid, and CBCA – cannabichromenic acid. What is left of the CBGA converts to CBG through decarboxylation. This is why so little of the plant is made of CBG.
CBG has been cited already as an anti-cancer agent, and now adds antibiotic to its repertoire of uses.
There has been an increasing amount of research into the medical benefits of CBD, and as that field has expanded, interest has been put on other cannabinoids like CBG. Now, a new study is out which backs up the idea that cannabinoids – CBG in particular – possess a strong antibacterial capability. This is especially important as the idea of antibiotic resistance has become an issue.
One of the big contenders when it comes to antibiotic resistance is MRSA, a type of Staphylococcus aureus which is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin, an antibiotic which was once used to treat the infection, but which is rarely used now because of resistance to its effects. In a study published earlier in 2020: Uncovering the Hidden Antibiotic Potential of Cannabis, different cannabinoids like CBG were shown to have an antibiotic effect on MRSA.
They also did something else interesting. They both showed an ability to inhibit biofilms from forming, as well as the ability to eliminate already formed biofilms. This has huge implications in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
What are biofilms?
Why is the idea of breaking through biofilms or keeping them from forming important? Because biofilms are one of the biggest culprits in the spread of disease, and the inability to stop it. Biofilms can occur inside the body, or on surfaces outside of it.
A biofilm is a “community of micro-organisms irreversibly attached to a surface and encased in an EPS (extracellular polymeric substance matrix), with increased resistance to host cellular and chemical responses.” While most often associated with bacteria, they are also associated with fungi, protists, and viruses as well.
In some ways, biofilms inside the body cause a bigger issue in that they can’t be killed as easily. Anything used internally has to be sustainable by the human body in general, and hard-to-kill microbes often require means that are quite toxic internally. Externally this is also an issue, however, harsher methods can be used. On the other hand, biofilms outside the human body that exist on surfaces, pose a much bigger threat in terms of disease transmission.
Essentially a biofilm is like a cellular form of plastic wrap, but stronger, and harder to break. It forms a barrier between the microbes and the environment around which allows growth without interference. Biofilms have a specific architecture and allow a supreme environment for intercellular communication.
“Biofilms may form on a wide variety of surfaces, including living tissues, indwelling medical devices, industrial or potable water system piping, or natural aquatic systems.” This can create havoc, especially in medical settings where there is interaction with many forms of disease, and particularly when the biofilms are formed around antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
When it comes to antibiotic resistance, Staphylococcus aureus is a key player in that it very well shows how quickly bacteria can change according to the environment around it. It started becoming resistant to antibiotics starting with penicillin, and steadily made its way through the varied antibiotics that have been used ever since. The particular strain MRSA, which is resistant to the antibiotic Methicillin, has become ubiquitous, showing up all over the place in hospital settings, and spreading quickly among patients with little recourse.
Staphylococcus aureus is a dangerous staphylococcal bacterial infection that can cause all kinds of issues from pneumonia, to skin and heart problems, bone infections and more. Even TSS, or Toxic Shock Syndrome, the infection associated with tampon use that can lead to death, is a result of toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus.
Obviously, having this running rampant in a place with sick people is a recipe for further and continued disaster. To give an idea, in 2019 the CDC released a report stating that deaths due to antibiotic resistance had been underestimated, and that approximately 35,000 deaths occur each year in the US alone, out of 2.8 million yearly infections. That’s a lot of people dying because their medicine didn’t work.
Is cannabis a breakthrough with biofilms?
No, not at all. The idea of antimicrobial agents being found in plants is hardly new. Not only have different plants been used in this way for thousands of years, but studies have already been done into the power of different compounds like essential oils. This study from 2019 highlights the investigation into cinnamon, marjoram, and thyme essential oils with cinnamon and thyme showing the best inhibitory results.