Each year, about 90,000 people are infected with invasive MRSA, and around 20,000 die. As this insidious infection grows more and more resistant to antibiotics, science struggles to keep up.

Thankfully, there’s been new research that shines rays of hope into the scientific community. And once again, as has been the case in so many other studies, cannabis emerges as a serious contender – this time in the fight against increasingly drug-resistant bacteria.

At first glance, it might seem that any antibacterial properties in the cannabis plant are due to its various terpenes. After all, it’s been well-established that many terpenes have antibacterial properties, as well as anti-fungal and anti-viral. And studies of the terpenes in the cannabis plant bear witness to this truth. For example, a study using hemp showed that the terpenes in the hemp oil (the dominant ones being α- and β-pinene, β-myrcene, and β-caryophyllene) were effective in killing pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in food and from food processing.

But what may be surprising to some is that in other studies, cannabinoids proved to be the stars.

One study used the five main cannabinoids; THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and CBC against a variety of methicillin-resistant MRSA strains. Researchers found that all five cannabinoids were effective, powerful killers of the bacterial strains.

In another study using CBD oil, CBD killed certain strains of both Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria just as well as the antibiotics daptomycin and vancomycin. Even better, it worked against strains of these bacteria that had become immune to the antibiotics. CBD even proved effective against the biofilms formed by the bacteria. Biofilms are formed when the bacteria secrete proteins that act as a shield that the bacteria can hide behind, making it difficult, if not impossible, for antibiotics to successfully wipe them out.

Researchers are careful to warn that just because benefits are shown in Petri dishes doesn’t necessarily mean the same benefits will be had in the human body. But they are hopeful and optimistic enough to do more advanced research. The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Superbug Solutions in Brisbane, Australia plans on conducting animal studies on the effects of CBD on infections. And with the hope of one day preventing post-surgical infections, Botanix Pharmaceuticals will be taking research to the next level in a clinical trial in people to see if CBD can remove Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on the skin before surgeries.