Is CBD an Antibiotic? How CBD Joined the Fight Against Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs
Is CBD an antibiotic? A new study from the Centre for Superbug Solutions at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland in Australia says yes—and that’s big news for humans across the globe.
Antibiotic resistance is currently one of the greatest threats to public and individual health. At least two million people in the U.S. get an antibiotic-resistant infection each year, according to the CDC, and at least 23,000 of them die as a result.
There is hope though, and it comes from a previously unexpected source. Cannabidiol (aka CBD), which is already used to treat a wide range of ailments, including anxiety, inflammation, sleep disorders, and epilepsy, may be the key to treating certain strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the study says, with potency similar to that of commonly used antibiotics.
Testing the Limits of CBD Oil For Infection Treatment
The study, led by senior research officer Dr. Mark Blaskovich, compared the efficacy of CBD oil for infection treatment versus standard antibiotics like vancomycin and daptomycin. And what they found may be a total game changer in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
The University of Queensland study is one of the first to closely examine CBD and antibiotics. Some of their most important findings include:
- CBD oil kills bacteria with potency and speed that is comparable to some of the most commonly used antibiotics.
- CBD is able to penetrate the biofilm around bacteria that often blocks out antibiotics.
- CBD is much less likely than standard antibiotics to cause antibiotic resistance. In fact, the bacteria studied were not able to form resistance to the CBD.
So what does it all mean? Among other things, this research shows that CBD can be an effective partner in the fight against bacterial strains like MRSA and VISA/VRSA which often become resistant to antibiotics—and with limited side effects at that. And that’s big: MRSA alone is responsible for killing more Americans than the AIDS virus, many of them children.
The University of Queensland study may be at the forefront of the research linking CBD and antibiotics, but with more research the implications could grow vastly.
Why the Fight Matters
It’s not just the pursuit of better medicine that makes the study’s findings so important. Antibiotic resistance is
one of humanity’s most critical threats, making previously treatable diseases impervious to available antibiotic medications. This is due to the widespread overuse of antibiotics, as well as the use of broad spectrum antibiotics that affect not just harmful bacteria but other bacteria in the body as well.
With millions of people getting infected with antibiotic resistance bacterial strains each year, it’s crucial that the medical community looks at other available sources of treatment. And CBD, which has already shown efficacy for treating other tricky ailments, could be one of those sources.
Blaskovich notes that they’re not quite sure yet how the CBD is doing what it’s doing to resistant bacteria, and even suggests it may be a “completely new mechanism of action” that is causing such promising results. Certainly more research on CBD for antibiotic resistant infections needs to be done, but this shift toward focusing on cannabidiol as an effective antibiotic replacement is groundbreaking in its own right, and provides a lot of hope for the future of infectious medicine.
Blaskovich presented the study’s findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology this past summer.