Cannabidiol, or better known as simply CBD, is already being used to treat mental conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, pain, and epilepsy. According to a new study, CBD may become the new superbug fighter to combat infections that are highly resistant to current medications available in the market.
The experiment conducted involved using CBD on different varieties of bacteria, “including bacteria that have become resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics,” according to Mark Blaskovich, Ph.D. Dr. Blaskovich is a senior research officer from the Centre for Superbug Solutions at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience found at the University of Queensland in Australia.
This new development of cannabidiol is significant because antibiotic resistance rates continue to increase rapidly to dangerous rates, as stated by the World Health Organization.
What the Study Implies
Although it also originates from hemp and cannabis, cannabidiol is non-psychoactive, meaning it has no ‘high’ effect that consumers usually experience with THC-heavy marijuana. Currently, FDA only allows CBD for the treatment of severe and rare types of seizures. However, CBD is also promoted because of its many health benefits.
Dr. Mark Blaskovich had the chance to present the study last Sunday during the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. His study focused not only in test tube samples but also in animal models. The results of a research that was presented during a meeting should still be considered as preliminary until it has been released in a medical journal that undergoes peer review.
Dr. Blaskovich stated that their main concern was to look at the ability of CBD to eliminate and kill bacteria. To answer that, his findings showed that the CBD yield almost the same potency that common antibiotics have.
Among the bacteria that CBD was tested against was the skin infection-causing staphylococcus and the strep throat-inducing streptococcus.
Cannabidiol’s effectivity was compared with common antibiotics found in the market like daptomycin and vancomycin. The team looked at the speed at which CBD can kill the bacteria, which was 3 hours, a lot faster than the Vancomycin which kills the bacteria in around 6 to 8 hours.
The CBD was also able to break through the bacteria’s biofilm, a layer that covers the microorganism, making it harder to penetrate and eliminate for most antibiotics. Additionally, the CBD was also found to have fewer chances to become resistant like the common antibiotic.
The cannabidiol was also found to be “selective for the type of bacteria” according to Dr. Blaskovich. While it proved capable of eliminating the gram-positive bacteria, it does not have much effect on the gram-negative bacteria. Gram-positive bacteria are the ones responsible for severe skin infections, pneumonia, and other conditions. On the other hand, salmonella and E.coli are examples of gram-negative bacteria. Salmonella can be traced in foods that are undercooked while E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and many others.
At the same meeting, Dr. Blaskovich also presented a study about the effect of a topical CBD on the treatment of skin infections in mice. While it effectively reduced the bacteria count within 45 hours, the CBD was not able to clear the infection. This research is ongoing.
Researchers are still in the dark about how exactly CBD might become a fighter of superbug infection. Dr. Blaskovich and his team theorize that it can damage the biofilm of the bacteria, making it leaky.
The study results are still promising so far, but it is still in its early stages. Dr. Blaskovich also warned the consumer that it is still too early for using CBD for self-treating infections.
A microbiology researcher at the Reed College in Portland, OR, Brandon Novy believed that the study yielded “very promising” results because the bacteria did not have any resistance to cannabidiol. Novy was also impressed to know that the bacteria were not able to create a biofilm during the process. He also explained that a bacteria’s biofilm is vital to the infection process as it allows the microorganism to attach to a host and survive.
During the same meeting, he also presented ongoing research which features the potential of CBD against a few infections caused by the gram-negative bacteria.