Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious and potentially fatal lung infection that has been a major public health concern for centuries. Although cases of TB began to decrease in 1993, drug-resistant strains have made the virus hard to fight. Many sufferers need to take a considerable amount of medication for an extended period to fight disease and control antibiotic resistance development. While TB may be cured with medication, medical cannabis has been found to ease the condition according to a United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime study that showed marijuana resin was successful in inhibiting the growth of TB bacteria as well as other pathogens.
Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
Tuberculosis is contracted when an infected and untreated carrier releases microscopic droplets in the air by either coughing, sneezing, spitting, singing, laughing or even just talking. The best prevention against getting TB is having a healthy immune system, making those with weak immune systems more susceptible to the infection. Other risk factors for contracting TB include geography, poverty, occupation, substance use and tobacco use.
If not treated promptly, tuberculosis can cause other severe conditions, including spinal pain, joint damage, membrane swelling, liver and kidney issues, and heart disorders. The Mayo Clinic reports that the four most common TB drugs are Isoniazid, Rifampin, Ethambutol and Pyrazinamide, all of which have uncomfortable side effects like nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, jaundice, dark urine and long-term fever.
Impact of Cannabinoids on Tuberculosis
Research has shown that medical cannabis has several properties that can fight off and help ease TB both here and in developing countries. In 2013 the African Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported on the healing properties of medical cannabis in the treatment of TB. A study conducted on medicinal plants used to treat TB by Bapedi traditional healers revealed that 71.4% of the species had antimicrobial properties or showed similar ethno medicinal uses in other countries.
Additionally, a 2016 research article revealed that cannabinoids impact TB by inhibiting neutrophil migration. The study suggests that the CB2 receptor may represent a new target for modulating the inflammatory reaction induced by mycobacteria. Bacteria develop antibiotic resistance over time, and therefore bacterial infections like TB become harder to treat. In 2015, a study published in the journal PLOS ONE explored the relationship between weight loss and THC in mice. The study showed that chronic administration of THC changed the gut microbes of the mice, suggesting that THC may be useful in fighting bacteria.
In conclusion, tuberculosis is a serious and potentially fatal lung infection that has been a major public health concern for centuries. Drug-resistant strains have made the virus hard to fight, and many sufferers need to take a considerable amount of medication for an extended period to fight disease and control antibiotic resistance development. Medical cannabis has been found to ease the condition according to various studies, making it a promising alternative treatment for TB patients who experience discomfort from medication-side effects like nausea or vomiting. However, further research is necessary to determine how medical cannabis can be used most effectively in preventing and treating TB, particularly with regards to its effects on gut microbes and immune system function.