Hemp and its Antibacterial Properties

May 13th, 2020 by Hannah Laing

Antibacterial PropertiesQuinton

By Quinton Charles, Op-ed blogger

Bacteria and Hemp?

There are a myriad of benefits that are being discussed when talking about the use of hemp and CBD. I am sure you have heard people giving testimonials about CBD assisting with their pain management or anxiety-reduction, but did you know that hemp also has some antibacterial properties? That’s right! In multiple studies, hemp was found to reduce the overall count of Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infection) bacterial cells. CBD is also being studied for its potential to assist in boosting one’s immune system and regulating T cells and white blood cells. Let’s dive in and learn more about this!

Staph.

Cannabis has been known  throughout time to have antibacterial properties and was studied in the 1950’s as a treatment for tuberculosis and other diseases. But research into using cannabis as an antibiotic has been limited by poor knowledge of the plant’s active ingredients and by the controversy surrounding its THC-laden cousin’s use as a recreational drug.

When researchers applied extracts from five major cannabinoids to bacterial cultures of six strains of MRSA, they discovered that the cannabinoids were as effective at killing the bugs as vancomycin and other antibiotics.

“The cannabinoids even showed exceptional activity against the MRSA strain that makes extra amounts of the proteins that give the bugs resistance against many antibiotics,” said one researcher. These proteins, he explains, allow the bacteria to “hoover up unwanted things from inside the cell and spit them out again[1].”

Conveniently, of the five cannabinoids tested by the researchers, the two most effective ones also happen to be non-psychoactive, meaning that they cannot cause a high.

While the researchers were unsure exactly how the hemp targeted the bacteria, they were shocked at the antimicrobial effects that the plant had. Currently, they believe that hemp evolved powerful, antimicrobial defenses to fend off bacterial infections in the plant and that these defenses could be used to help humans.

Fabrics, too?

It isn’t just Staph that saw significant decreases when hemp was applied; other bacteria on hemp fabric seemed to disappear, too! Bacteria, such as pneumonia, saw significant decreases in microbe count after a short period of time. Can it get any better? It can. The specific fabric used for these tests was not 100% hemp; rather, it was 60% hemp, 40% rayon. This means that hemp clothing (and these great benefits) could be accessible to a wider pool of customers when using mixtures and blends of fabric.

This is exciting when looking to the future and the possibility of finding other uses for hemp like hospital sheets, masks, and other medical textiles are some potential uses for this game-changing material[2].

What about the inside?

While there is growing documentation of hemp combating bacteria as a fabric, what about other uses for hemp and CBD? This is where CBD assisting in the regulation of cells and aiding in the balancing of the body can come into play.

Conceptual cells

Conceptual cells

The body’s Endocannabinoid system may play a pivotal role in our body by helping with regulating immunity and maintaining cell health. In animal studies investigating autoimmune health, CBD oil from hemp has been shown to balance the immune system by reducing the activity of T cells, B cells, and both T helper and T cytotoxic lymphocyte subsets. However, outside of an autoimmune arena, CBD may also support the activity of natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell[3].

So what does all of that jargon mean? T cells and B cells are cells that respond to viruses, and NK cells are responsible for killing off viral cells. CBD may aid the body’s ability to combat illness by assisting in the regulation of the T and B cells, while it may also assist the bodies ability to increases the count of cells responsible for killing viral cells.

Antibiotic Hemp

While antibiotics are invaluable in fighting disease in the modern world, many antibiotics have seen reduced efficacy, resulting from antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. What does this have to do with hemp?

As bacteria strains become more resistant to antibiotics, doctors and researchers are looking into what are called helper compounds (also known as antibiotic potentiators or resistant breakers). These “helper compounds” are non-antibiotic compounds that act as adjuvants for antibiotics, operating synergistically through mechanisms including efflux pump inhibition, enzyme inhibition, or changing membrane permeability, which can contribute to improving antibiotic efficacy[4]. Okay, that’s a lot to take in. What this means is that the compounds can work alongside and enable antibiotics to kill bacteria by stopping the growth of new bacteria cells. They do this by assisting antibiotics to enter dangerous bacterial cells, and by making it easier for antibiotics to do what they were intended to do.

Hemp is currently being researched in the capacity of a helper compound, owing to its known antibacterial properties and its role in regulating healthy cells. If the research proves productive, and hemp is found to have the desired effects as a helper compound, then it is likely that hemp will enable doctors and health organizations to continue using antibiotics against strains of bacteria that have become resistant to most antibiotics.

Stay safe!

While hemp has remarkable properties, and will certainly be used for all sorts of health applications worldwide in the future, the best thing that one can do for one’s health is to act deliberately and make safe decisions. Hemp, though wonderful, is not a panacea, and shouldn’t be thought of as the end-all-be-all. Like anything else, hemp has to be understood in a holistic context. Only when it is used in tandem with a healthy diet and healthy choices can its benefits be fully appreciated.

As always, stay safe, research everything that you use, and feel free to call us, email us, or message us with any questions (or if you just want to chat!).

Resources

[1] https://www.technologyreview.com/2008/09/12/218798/a-new-mrsa-defense/

[2] https://www.labroots.com/trending/technology/11763/hemp-fabric-kills-staph-bacteria

[3] https://www.chiroeco.com/cbd-immune-system/

[4] https://www.genengnews.com/news/cannabis-compound-cbd-acts-as-helper-to-boost-antibiotic-effectiveness-study-shows/


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