Tuberculosis and Medical Marijuana

Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease that affects the lungs and can cause death if left untreated. Commonly also referred to as TB, the condition can also spread to other parts of the body such as the spine and the brain. It’s caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It’s estimated that around 2 billion people, or a third of the people in the world, are diagnosed with tuberculosis.

The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. TB spreads through the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or talks. If you have been exposed, you should go to your doctor for tests. You are more likely to get TB if you have a weak immune system.

Symptoms of TB in the lungs may include:

  • A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

Skin tests, blood tests, x-rays, and other tests can tell if you have TB. If not treated properly, TB can be deadly. You can usually cure active TB by taking several medicines for a long period of time. 

How Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Tuberculosis

A long history of using cannabis to treat tuberculosis has been documented in many parts of the world, and in some cases use of cannabis as a folk treatment for TB has persisted to this day—although for the most part, the spread of modern medical practices has wiped out cannabis use in folk medicine.

The first use of cannabis to treat TB was recorded in India and seems to have been well-documented and known about during the years of 1893-1894, which was the same time of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission. The Commission had found out about the use of cannabis as a treatment to TB as well as many other conditions from doctors in India as well as the west. 

Studies during the 1950’s onwards began showing promising evidence that even today, the use of cannabis is still therapeutic for tuberculosis. A study in the 1960’s showed that cannabis resin was successful in inhibiting the growth of the TB bacteria as well as other pathogens. Back then, barely anything was known about specific cannabinoids although CBD showed to be particularly helpful for its antimicrobial characteristics.

The study showed the five main cannabinoids in marijuana had potent antibacterial activity. These cannabinoids were not only successful at combating a range of other dangerous bacteria, but also the treatment-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.