Antibiotic resistance is something doctors have been issuing warnings about for quite some time now. Scientists work daily to further understand contributing factors, as well as possible preventions. Some researchers believe that CBD, a cannabinoid found in cannabis, could build the foundation for a new course of action.
Antimicrobial resistance is generally the result of overprescribed antibiotics, leading to bacteria that are resistant or immune to the drugs used to combat them.
Australian researchers discovered that CBD, “killed all the strains of bacteria they tested in a lab, including some which are highly resistant to existing antibiotics.” Additionally, the tested bacteria never became resistant to the CBD treatment, even after 20 days of exposure (which is the current observed period of time for bacteria to begin surviving some common antibiotic medications).
Staphylococcus Aureus, the bug responsible for conditions such as MRSA, was tested as well as Streptococcus Pneumoniae and E. Faecalis (responsible for pneumonia and some common infections).
A preliminary study on mice indicated CBD use could also be used as a reliable treatment for skin infections.
Mark Blaskovich, lead research chemist at the Centre for Superbug Solutions, commented to Newsweek, “We still don’t know how it works, and it may have a unique mechanism of action given it works against bacteria that have become resistant to other antibiotics, but we still don’t know how.” He added, “so far we have only shown it works topically, on the skin surface. To be really useful it would be good if we could show that it treated systemic infections [e.g. pneumonia, or complicated tissue infections] where you have to give it orally or by intravenous dosing. A very preliminary study didn’t show that it works in these more difficult models.”
Essentially concluding that with the expanding issue of antibiotic resistance, there are substances and compounds that have never been effectively studied, including cannabinoids.
“The most challenging part was getting the correct permits to handle cannabidiol in our laboratories, as the Queensland government regulates who can use/handle it - even though the material we are using is completely synthetic, it falls into this grey area under the definitions of cannabinoids,” explained Blaskovich.
The Centre for Superbug Solutions presented their research this year at a gathering for the American Society for Microbiology, ASM Microbe 2019, which took place in San Fransisco and has yet to be published in any peer-reviewed journals.
It was explicitly mentioned that this is merely in the infancy stage of testing and that consumers should stick to approved antibiotics for their own infections. “It would be very dangerous to try to treat a serious infection with cannabidiol instead of one of the tried and tested antibiotics,” said Blaskovich.
Dr. Andrew Edwards, lecturer at the Imperial College London (not involved in the study), explained, “the antibacterial properties of cannabidiol hadn’t been appreciated previously and it’s significant that there appears to be activity against antibiotic-resistant strains,” adding, “cannabidiol is already well characterized in terms of human use … this is important because if cannabidiol is found to be effective in treating infection it could be fast-tracked into clinics.”
However, “it is not effective against Gram-negative bacteria, which are especially difficult to develop new antibiotics for because they have a very selective outer-membrane that prevents most drugs from entering the bacterial cell,” noted Edwards.