Depending on whom you ask, CBD seems to be the cure for what ails you, no matter what’s wrong. Trouble sleeping? Take CBD. Got inflammation? CBD! Now we can add bacterial infections to that growing list, and there’s even evidence to back it up.
New research presented at the the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology has demonstrated a novel topical formation containing cannabidiol (CBD) is effective at killing bacterial infections in the skin. The formulation was also found to kill certain antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Furthermore, the results showed that CBD didn’t seem to induce antibiotic resistance in the bacteria tested. This particular finding will need to be confirmed with further research, of course, but for now, these early results are promising signs that CBD could aid in the global fight against drug-resistant “superbugs.”
Cannabidiol, the main non-psychoactive chemical compound extracted from cannabis and hemp plants, has been approved by FDA for the treatment of a form of epilepsy, and is being investigated for a number of other medical conditions, including, anxiety, pain and inflammation. While there is limited data to suggest Cannabidiol can kill bacteria, the drug has not been thoroughly investigated for its potential as an antibiotic.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern in healthcare, one that the World Health Organization called a “global health crisis” as far back as 2015. And recent research has suggested that antibiotic-resistant bacteria hang out in lots of dark corners of hospitals, including privacy curtains, so any tool that could aid in fighting infections without contributing to the resistance problem would be a huge deal for public health.
It is important to note this new research has not been peer-reviewed or published in a journal, but has also only been demonstrated in laboratory conditions and animal models, so further work will have to be done to verify efficacy in human subjects.
Asked for his advice for those who might see the study as an excuse to ditch regular antibiotics in favor of using cannabis-based home remedies, he responded: “Don’t! Most of what we have shown has been done in test tubes—it needs a lot more work to show it would be useful to treat infections in humans.”
“It would be very dangerous to try to treat a serious infection with cannabidiol instead of one of the tried and tested antibiotics,” he stressed.
The most significant limitation in CBD’s potential as an antibiotic is the fact it seems to be only effective at killing Gram-positive bacteria and not Gram-negative bacteria. This means CBD may never become the magic bullet against the broader rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but these new innovative ways to target specific bacterial skin infections suggest the marijuana-derived compound still offers promising novel therapeutic outcomes.
The work comes as cannabidiol has emerged as a treatment for conditions such as epilepsy and inflammation.
Last month, a separate team of researchers published work showing it could one day be used to treat people addicted to heroin and in turn help tackle the opioid crisis.