Antibacterial Effects of CBD – Modern Studies

CBD can be used as an antibiotic, the research shows. In modern science, the antibacterial properties of Cannabis sativa were first established in the 1950s by Zdeněk Krejčí from the Institute for Hygiene of the Faculty of Natural Science in Brno. Although his team primarily researched Cannabis sativa indica, their finding also provided direct evidence of the antibacterial effects of the extract from Cannabis sativa L.

Effectiveness and Resistance to CBD and THC

The research was carried out with specimens of gram-positive Staphylococcus pyogenes aureus and gram-negative Escheria coli bacteria. The extracts produced a remarkable effect upon Staphylococcus aureus, whilst E.coli showed to be resistant. The scientists concluded that cannabis extracts produce a very satisfactory antibacterial effect upon the following microbes: Staphylococcus pyogenes aureus, Streptococcus alpha haemolyticus, Streptococcus beta haemolyticus, Enterococcus, Diplococcus pneumoniae, B. subtilis, B. anthracis, Corynebacterium diphtheria, and Corynebacterium cutis. Note-worthy was the effect upon Staphylococcus aureus strains, which are developed resistance to penicillin and other antibiotics in the 1940s.

Later Research into Antibiotic CBD

Later scientific research during the 1970s found that gram-negative bacteria are resistant to both, CBD and THC. However, it was established recently that CBD shows remarkable effectiveness against gram-positive bacteria, including types of staph and strep bacteria, as well as strains that had become resistant to other antibiotic drugs.

Mark Blaskovich from The University of Queensland Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Superbug Solutions in Brisbane, Australia, is the leading figure of this new scientific breakthrough.

His study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Francisco in June 2019. His team assessed the antimicrobial activity of synthetically-produced cannabidiol, so it was free from impurities that might had interfered with the result. Their finding shows that CBD is remarkably effective at killing a range of gram-positive bacteria, and works similar to clinical antibiotics such as vancomycin and daptomycin.

The study concludes that CBD possesses surprisingly effective activity as an antibiotic, and, given cannabidiol’s documented anti-inflammatory effects, extensive proven safety in humans, and potential for oral delivery, it is a promising new antibiotic.

The combination of inherent antimicrobial activity and the potential to reduce damage caused by the inflammatory response to infections could be a particularly attractive point of CBD as a potential treatment for bacterial infections, the study emphasized.

Also, the drug retained its activity against bacteria that have become highly resistant to other common antibiotics. Under extended exposure conditions that lead to resistance against vancomycin or daptomycin, CBD did not lose effectiveness. CBD was shown effective at disrupting biofilms, a physical form of bacteria growth that leads to difficult-to-treat infections.

CBD Boosting other Antibiotics

Following this finding, a group of British scientists conducted a study published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology in September 2019, with a focus on Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus subsp. aureus Rosenbach, observing CBD’s effect on their membrane vesicles. The membrane vesicles (MVs) released from bacteria participate in cell communication and host-pathogen interactions, so they are tremendously important in fighting bacterial infection. The finding of British scientists is giving even more fuel to the belief that CBD can be used in the treatment of superbugs.

They have established that CBD used along other antibiotics prevents the release of the membrane vesicles. When applied in combination with a range of antibiotics, CBD increased the anti-bacterial effects of selected antibiotics, depending on bacteria type. CBD, in combination with specific antibiotics, may be used to selectively target bacteria to sensitize them to antibiotic treatment and reduce antibiotic resistance, the study concluded.

Escherichia coli is gram-negative bacteria, and the success of this research shed new light on so far findings on the efficiency of CBD as an antibiotic drug.

Reviewed by Sasha Bajilo, founder of ILESOL Pharmaceuticals, an industrial scale producer of CBD products and formulations. Expert on Hemp/Cannabis policy, member of the Croatian Ministry of Health regulatory commission for medical cannabis.