CBD Has Anti-Bacterial Properties And Can Even Kill Superbugs
Could a compound from the cannabis plant become a weapon in the war against drug-resistant superbugs? While there’s still a lot of research to do, that question is not quite as hippy-dippy ridiculous as it might have once sounded.
Cannabidiol , or CBD, has been touted for a wide variety of health benefits, most notably as a treatment for people with certain forms of epilepsy. Now, new research is showing that CBD is surprisingly effective at killing bacteria in a petri dish, including those responsible for many serious infections, such as staph and its drug-resistant sibling, MRSA. In fact, CBD even appears to be just as effective as widely used antibiotics at killing bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Presenting their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, scientists from the University of Queensland suggest that their work shows how CBD could be used to develop new treatments against gram-positive bacterial infections and even superbugs that have become resistant to conventional antibiotics.
It’s worth noting that the study was conducted in collaboration with Botanix Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company that produces CBD-based products.
“Given cannabidiol’s documented anti-inflammatory effects, existing safety data in humans, and potential for varied delivery routes, it is a promising new antibiotic worth further investigation,” said Dr Mark Blaskovich at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Superbug Solutions, according to a press release.
“The combination of inherent antimicrobial activity and potential to reduce damage caused by the inflammatory response to infections is particularly attractive.”
CBD is a compound found in cannabis plants, but it’s non-psychoactive so it doesn’t make you high. A bunch of studies have also shown that it’s extremely well tolerated by humans, with very little risk of abuse or dependency, according to the World Health Organization. Many of its more ambitious claims are yet to be confirmed by scientific evidence.
Needless to say, this doesn’t mean you should be treating your infections with CBD oil or any other cannabis-related product. These findings have so far only been tested on the tissues of mice and in a petri dish, so it’s still very early days for the research. Equally, the researchers have no real grasp of the mechanism of action. It also remains unseen whether these effects will actually be seen in humans. After all, honey has well-known antimicrobial properties , but it’s hardly recommended to use it like Bactine on a cut.
Despite these limitations, the study goes to show how CBD is a largely unexplored realm for science. Although many of its more lofty claims have the potential to fall flat, there are undoubtedly some fascinating insights to uncover from this long-overlooked compound.
“What may be really exciting, but we don’t know yet, is how it works. If it kills bacteria by a new mechanism not used by existing antibiotics, that would be really exciting,” added Dr Blaskovich, according to i News.
CBD Might Work as an Antibiotic to Treat Bacterial Infections
Experiments showed cannabidiol can squash microbes that cause staph infections.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is growing in popularity as a stress-relieving wonder drug that may help ease anxiety, inflammation and pain. Many enthusiasts also say it can cure a smorgasbord of other conditions. CBD is a non-active ingredient in cannabis — it doesn’t get you high. And that’s helped retailers avoid legal problems while plopping the substance into all manner of products.
But does the CBD chemical craze carry any weight? There’s one surprising new way it just might. New research from the University of Queensland shows CBD may actually be an effective fighter against bacterial infections — although researchers don’t think you should disregard the doctor and start self-medicating anytime soon.
The findings were presented this week at ASM Microbe 2019 by Queensland research chemist Mark Blaskovich. His team carried out test tube experiments where cannabidiol effectively squandered strains of Staphylococcus aureus , including MRSA, VISA and VRSA, which cause staph infections and have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics over the years.
However, CBD was not effective on every type of bacteria. S. aureus are Gram positive strains, which, in general, don’t have an outer membrane. And that makes them easier to treat with antibiotics than Gram negative strains. Such bacteria cause infections like E. Coli , Salmonella and Chlamydia, and have an outer membrane that is tougher to penetrate, making it typically more resistant to antibiotics.
Blaskovich’s work was partially funded by an Australian drug company called Botanix Pharmaceuticals. The company’s stock rose sharply on the news.
But it’s actually not the first time researchers have found a link between CBD and antibiotic properties. A study was published in 1976 exploring the antibiotic effects of CBD and THC , finding that Gram negative strains were resistant to both. But since then, studies on the topic have been few and far between. And these days, well-funded antibiotic research is on the decline.
“There is very little research going on in antibiotics now compared to how it was 30 years ago,” Blaskovich says. With fewer pharmaceutical companies investing in the field, most of the interest comes from academics and independent companies.
Barriers and Breakthroughs
Blaskovich’s team is preparing to do another round of trials before moving on to tests in animals, and eventually humans, if all goes well. Then, results permitting, he wants to pursue approval from the FDA to market the drug as a topical antibiotic.
Marijuana has a checkered past in the United States, but with the FDA’s approval of CBD to orally treat a rare form of epilepsy last June , Blaskovich remains optimistic.
“The road to clinical trials (and) getting it approved is probably shorter than normal,” he says. The upcoming studies will also be completed in Australia, where laws about research on cannabis are more lax.
Despite the promising first tests, Blaskovich advises curious consumers to take caution.
“The results weren’t good enough to say yes … it works,” he says. “We don’t want people to try self-medicating.”