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CBD: A New type of Antibiotic?

CBD: A New type of Antibiotic?
Concept medical marijuana. Cannabis CBD oil extracts in jars herb and leaves.

Antibiotics have become commonplace since the middle of the twentieth century. And while these medications have saved countless lives, their heavy use by medical professionals has caused an alarming new challenge to appear ‒ antibiotic-resistant drugs. In their quest to find a solution to this problem, researchers have turned to cannabidiol, better known to the public as CBD.

Under the Microscope

In 2019, a collaborative effort between the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Superbug Solutions and Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd examined this very topic. Specifically, their study sought to determine if various forms of bacteria could be destroyed by synthetically-created CBD. The team certainly put their CBD to the test, examining its effectiveness against Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria. Furthermore, the CBD was also used on antibiotic-resistant strains of these same types of bacteria. 

So how did this synthetic CBD do when put to the test? As it turns out, very well. The authors found that the CBD was highly successful in combating the Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria, to the point that it rivaled the performance of prescription antibiotics vancomycin and daptomycin. Perhaps more impressively, the CBD also proved its worth in counteracting the strains of Staphylococcus/Streptococcus bacteria that vancomycin and daptomycin could no longer treat. 

Biological Building Blocks

As encouraging as these results are, the authors do advise that they should be viewed in the proper perspective. The bacteria used in the study was contained in laboratory dishes; the human body, of course, is a completely different environment. 

In critiquing the study, Dr. Amesh Adalja from Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Center opined that “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.” Despite this shortcoming, Adalja does acknowledge that there are “a lot of untapped avenues of research with CBD.” 

For their next project, the authors of this report plan to test the ability of CBD to eliminate bacteria inside animals. Furthermore, Botanix Pharmaceuticals has announced that it will test the effectiveness of CBD in fighting skin-based bacteria on humans. 

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