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September 12, 2018

Can terpenes control food poisoning bacteria?

The answer to preventing Listeria may be the terpene profile of hemp.

Listeria is an infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes that causes thousands of infections and even kills people every year. The bacteria is responsible for a large amount of the food poisoning in the world. It infects people through food and is able to survive temperatures as low as 0 celsius. This makes it one of the more difficult pathogens to eradicate.

The Experiment

Scientists in Italy recently published a paper on their study on how the essential oil of a hemp variety of cannabis sativa can reduce the virulence of listeria monocytogenes. The essential oil killed 99.9% of the bacteria at 2048 uG/mL. Even more interesting was that at lower levels the essential oil reduced the amount of flagella, whip or hair like structures some bacteria use for movement, in Listeria. The essential oil actually down regulated the genes responsible for flagella creation. This led to a reduction in biofilm and colony size of the Listeria. Furthermore, when these hemp essential oil treated Listeria were introduced to larvae of Galleria Mellonella (The Wax Moth) 90% of the larvae survived vs. only 50% survival for the non-treated Listeria infection.

What’s in Hemp Essential Oil?

The researchers then turned to analyze what was in the essential oil that was responsible for the effects on the Listeria. The primary constituents making up 95% of the oil were terpenes.  β-caryophyllene (15.31%) and α-humulene (3.68%) were the most common sesquiterpenes. Myrcene (17.17%), α-pinene (19.20%), and β-pinene (4.34%) were the main monoterpenes. The scientists also tested α-pinene and myrcene independently and found they also had an effect individually though not as strong. It seems there may even be an entourage effect in the antimicrobial/antibacterial effect of cannabis/hemp.

Check back at our blog for content on terpene science, health and industrial uses. If you’re interested in trying any of our products after reading this visit or email our team at [email protected]

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