Can Cannabinoids Fight Fungus?
Did you know that a drug-resistant and potentially deadly fungus has been spreading rapidly through U.S. health care facilities for the past few years? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the fungus is known by the name Candida auris, or C. auris, and is quickly spreading throughout health and medical facilities in the United States. Though the fungus does not pose a threat to relatively healthy people, it does to the immuno-compromised population. According to ABC News and the CDC, 30% to 60% of those who have caught Candida auris have died, mostly because of pre-existing conditions.
“Unless there’s a break in the skin or some sort of deeper systemic infection, the risk of mortality, or some deeper complication, is relatively low unless that fungus gets in a place that it should not be,” said Dr. Scott Roberts, associate medical director of infection prevention at Yale School of Medicine, in an interview with ABC News. “For example, there’s a break in the skin, it gets in the bloodstream and there’s a Candida auris blood stream infection, and that can be quite fatal.”
This is what happens when we overprescribe antibiotics to cure every infection that attacks us – the infections become resistant to our drugs and even our cleaning agents. If you have a weakened immune system it should be of cause for concern, especially if the current pharma solutions continue to fail. Those solutions currently include a class of antifungal drugs called echinocandins that are given intravenously. If these drugs fail the medical community’s only current response is to prescribe them in higher doses until they kill the fungus. That seems like the blind leading the blind at bit, but at the moment it is western medicine’s only response. When this topic came up for discussion the other day with friends someone asked if cannabinoids could fight this fungus? Can it?
The answer is potentially, yes! The problem is, the specific study I found was in reference to Candida albicans, not C.auris. Those are two entirely different strains of fungal infection. They have similarities, but they are definitely not the same. One of those similarities is a growing resistance to antibiotic medicines. MRSA is a C. albicans strain of fungal infection, and certainly you have heard the stories revolving around MRSA, its growth and its growing resistance to antibiotics as treatment? There are a number of headlines signaling that cannabinoids, the many compounds found in the cannabis plant, can treat MRSA and other Candida albicans’ strains. According to a study published in Microorganisms Journal in 2021, in previous research cannabinoids had the following effect on different Candida albicans infections:
- CBD has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is effective in the treatment of various diseases including inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
- CBD was shown to have potent antibacterial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Streptococcus isolates.
This research team set out to prove those two theories correct and accomplished their mission, with a note that, “CBD should be explored for further development as an alternative treatment to combat fungal infections,” which is the understatement of the year. Perhaps it is in that stage of research right now?
Another study conducted by the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2011, noted three cannabinoids, CBD (Cannabidiol), CBG (Cannabigerol) and CBC (Cannabichromene) all had strong anti fungal properties. It will be interesting to see more studies published on its effectiveness on fungal infections.
There is no sign, at least from my Googling abilities, that cannabinoids have been tested on Candida auris yet. This could just be because of a delay between the research being conducted and the time that the research is published. The study about Candida auris took three years, so who knows? Something could be in the works as we speak. It can’t come fast enough from the sounds of healthcare workers. According to Dr. Roberts, who was quoted above, “Candida auris, it sticks to everything. It can stick to heart valves and stick to catheters. I do want to emphasize that’s a rare occurrence, though.”
Candida auris sounds frightening, just as MRSA sounded ominous before it. Now we know that cannabinoids have the potential to fight both of these rapidly advancing fungal infections. We can do more than hope that more researchers look to the cannabis plant and its many, useful cannabinoids as potential solutions to the problems they are dealing with. Eventually, with federal legalization, federal research dollars in larger amounts will be funneled towards cannabis research. The White House took the first step towards that becoming a reality in December when President Biden signed into law the, “Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, H.R. 8454,” (the Cannabis Research Bill).