Last year’s Farm Bill enabled universities to study hemp freely, and science has since had a field day. Most research has examined the effects of CBD on common conditions currently treated with pharmaceuticals. CBD- based medication Epidiolex was recently approved to treat three types of seizures; and, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and arthritis have all responded well in initial trials, but more are needed to confirm the preliminary findings. CBD as an antibiotic is not so far-fetched.
Private companies outside of academia have funded more novel experiments in hopes of a profitable breakthrough. Drug discovery company Botanix Pharmaceuticals is currently investigating uses of synthetic cannabidiol (CBD) for a range of skin conditions. They funded a study by the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Superbug Solutions in Brisbane, Australia to test whether a synthetically produced form of CBD could kill different types of bacteria and yielded astounding results. .
“New research has found that Cannabidiol is active against Gram-positive bacteria, including those responsible for many serious infections (such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae), with a potency similar to that of established antibiotics, such as vancomycin or daptomycin,” authors wrote in their results.
“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,” says Mark Blaskovich, lead researcher for The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Superbug Solutions. “The combination of inherent antimicrobial activity and potential to reduce damage caused by the inflammatory response to infections is particularly attractive,” Blaskovich said while presenting the findings at the American Society for Microbiology, ASM Microbe 2019 in San Francisco.
In lab dishes, the synthetic cannabidiol performed as well as prescription antibiotics vancomycin and daptomycin in killing certain strains of Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria. CBD trumped the prescriptions in two areas. First, it killed strains that had become resistant to traditional antibiotics. Second and most excitingly, CBD attacked bacterial biofilms, coatings on the surfaces of wounds formed by harmful bacteria that make them very difficult to treat.
The findings mean that further research is warranted. Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, who wasn’t involved with the study, explains, “Just because [CBD] has antibiotic activity in an in vitro assay doesn’t mean it does in the human body.” “Lots of different compounds … have [antibiotic] activity in a petri dish,” he continued, “It is an important study that deserves to be followed up on.”
The World Health Organization has declared an emergency in addressing what it calls superbugs, strains of bacteria that have developed resistance to traditional antibiotics. This discovery of CBD’s antibiotic potential against resistant strains opens a new avenue for researchers. It’s a good thing that there is so much enthusiasm surrounding the understanding of CBD’s capabilities right now otherwise potential breakthroughs like this would remain undiscovered. CBD as an antibiotic is currently being researched.
Doheny, Kathleen. “CBD as a Superbug Antibiotic?” WebMD, WebMD, 24 June 2019, www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/news/20190624/cbd-as-a-superbug-antibiotic.
Dr_Microbe / iStock / Getty Images Plus. “Watch out Superbugs: CBD Might Be the Medicine of the Future.” Post, 25 June 2019, leaderpost.com/cannabis-news/watch-out-superbugs-cbd-might-be-the-antibiotic-of-the-future-to-breach-your-resistance/wcm/7c61397f-3a52-45fd-ac01-24e535295a64.
Rettner, Rachael. “Could CBD Fight Superbugs? Marijuana Compound Shows Promise As an Antibiotic.” LiveScience, Purch, 24 June 2019, www.livescience.com/65772-cbd-antibiotic-properties.html.