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Antibiotic Properties of Phytocannabinoids

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • Researchers at CSIR-IIIM Jammu have discovered the antibiotic properties of a compound called THCBD, a semisynthetic phytocannabinoid found in the cannabis plant.

About Staphylococcus aureus

  • THCBD has demonstrated potent antibiotic effects against the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, which is responsible for a significant number of deaths due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • It is a gram-positive bacterium causing various clinical diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, and endocarditis.
  • It is present in the environment and in the normal human flora, primarily on the skin and mucous membranes.
  • The transmission of Staphylococcus aureus occurs mostly through direct contact.

THCBD as a Phytocannabinoid

  • THCBD stands for tetrahydrocannabidiol and is a semisynthetic phytocannabinoid naturally occurring in the cannabis plant.
  • THCBD demonstrated strong effectiveness against efflux overexpression and MRSA strain in bacterial cultures in the lab.
  • The compound reduced the number of viable microbial cells in S. aureus skin infections in mice, showing promise in combating AMR.


  • Solubility of the drug poses a challenge, as it needs to be dissolved in an aqueous medium, and THCBD tends to be lipophilic.
  • Section 20 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 restricts the use of cannabis, including for research purposes.

·       India reported a substantial burden of antimicrobial resistance, with 2.97 lakh deaths in 2019 attributed to AMR.

·       Hydrophilic molecule: Molecules which are water loving.

·       Lipophilic molecule: Molecule which are fat loving.

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