Experiments showed cannabidiol can squash microbes that cause staph infections. Find out if CBD oil could be as effective at fighting bacterial infections as traditional antibiotics. Learn about CBD oil antibacterial dosage, research, and benefits. The researchers tested the CBD against some strains of staphylococcus, which cause skin infections, and streptococcus, which cause strep throat.
CBD Might Work as an Antibiotic to Treat Bacterial Infections
Experiments showed cannabidiol can squash microbes that cause staph infections.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is growing in popularity as a stress-relieving wonder drug that may help ease anxiety, inflammation and pain. Many enthusiasts also say it can cure a smorgasbord of other conditions. CBD is a non-active ingredient in cannabis — it doesn’t get you high. And that’s helped retailers avoid legal problems while plopping the substance into all manner of products.
But does the CBD chemical craze carry any weight? There’s one surprising new way it just might. New research from the University of Queensland shows CBD may actually be an effective fighter against bacterial infections — although researchers don’t think you should disregard the doctor and start self-medicating anytime soon.
The findings were presented this week at ASM Microbe 2019 by Queensland research chemist Mark Blaskovich. His team carried out test tube experiments where cannabidiol effectively squandered strains of Staphylococcus aureus , including MRSA, VISA and VRSA, which cause staph infections and have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics over the years.
However, CBD was not effective on every type of bacteria. S. aureus are Gram positive strains, which, in general, don’t have an outer membrane. And that makes them easier to treat with antibiotics than Gram negative strains. Such bacteria cause infections like E. Coli , Salmonella and Chlamydia, and have an outer membrane that is tougher to penetrate, making it typically more resistant to antibiotics.
Blaskovich’s work was partially funded by an Australian drug company called Botanix Pharmaceuticals. The company’s stock rose sharply on the news.
But it’s actually not the first time researchers have found a link between CBD and antibiotic properties. A study was published in 1976 exploring the antibiotic effects of CBD and THC , finding that Gram negative strains were resistant to both. But since then, studies on the topic have been few and far between. And these days, well-funded antibiotic research is on the decline.
“There is very little research going on in antibiotics now compared to how it was 30 years ago,” Blaskovich says. With fewer pharmaceutical companies investing in the field, most of the interest comes from academics and independent companies.
Barriers and Breakthroughs
Blaskovich’s team is preparing to do another round of trials before moving on to tests in animals, and eventually humans, if all goes well. Then, results permitting, he wants to pursue approval from the FDA to market the drug as a topical antibiotic.
Marijuana has a checkered past in the United States, but with the FDA’s approval of CBD to orally treat a rare form of epilepsy last June , Blaskovich remains optimistic.
“The road to clinical trials (and) getting it approved is probably shorter than normal,” he says. The upcoming studies will also be completed in Australia, where laws about research on cannabis are more lax.
Despite the promising first tests, Blaskovich advises curious consumers to take caution.
“The results weren’t good enough to say yes … it works,” he says. “We don’t want people to try self-medicating.”
Bacterial Infections and CBD Oil: An Alternative to Antibiotics?
CBD oil is gaining ground as an effective treatment for a number of common ailments. Research continues into better understanding all the ways CBD oil can potentially benefit human health. One of the most significant developments in the use of CBD oil as a medicinal supplement has been in the area of bacterial infections.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , “ antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, world security, and development… ” Antibiotic resistance is far from being a modern-day issue as bacteria have been building resistance to treatment methods even before the discovery of penicillin in 1928.
Some argue the widespread use of antibiotics has sped up bacterias’ ability to resist manmade medications, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reporting that approximately two million Americans per year are now being infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Luckily, CBD oil may be able to help.
Benefits of Taking CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections
Antibiotics indiscriminately attack both good and bad bacteria in your body, and can essentially wipe the slate clean. The good bacteria reside mostly in your gut, aiding in digestion—and possibly more. Recently, studies have been finding links between the presence of good gut bacteria and a person’s mood , suggesting the balance of these good bacteria could affect other parts and functions of your body.
Because good bacteria contribute to overall health, and because harmful, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are steadily on the rise, it’s important to consider whether you really need to take antibiotics when you’re feeling sick, or if you should allow your immune system to fight off the invaders on its own—or with the help of CBD oil.
If you have a mild to moderate bacterial infection that doesn’t warrant a course of antibiotics, or if you have a resistant strain of bacteria in your system, it may be worth considering CBD oil.
CBD oil shows promise as an effective bacteria fighter and is covered in ‘Effectiveness of CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections’ in the section below. It also won’t wipe out your good bacteria or produce some of the side effects (nausea, vomiting, stomach pain) associated with common antibiotics.
Effectiveness of CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections
CBD has been found to possess antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties . While the impact of CBD oil on inflammation has been an area of intense research, the last significant study on its use against bacteria was conducted in 2008. Though a bit older, this groundbreaking study helps point to the legitimacy of using CBD oil as an alternative to antibiotics.
CBD Oil as an Antimicrobial
A joint study by Italian and English researchers investigated the effect of various cannabinoids , including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), on pathogenic bacteria. The cannabinoids were tested against 6 strains of the antibiotic-resistant “superbug” MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Amazingly, all 5 of the major cannabinoids showed “potent activity” against the bacterium. In fact, the results showed that “activity was exceptional against some of these strains, in particular, the multidrug-resistant (MDR) SA-1199B” and also “against EMRSA-15 and EMRSA-16, the major epidemic methicillin-resistant S. aureus strains occurring in U.K. hospitals.”
The study concluded that there were incredibly promising benefits of the use of cannabinoids to treat resistant bacteria, though it could not be determined exactly how the cannabinoids carried out this function.
A more recent 2014 study from the National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine in Taiwan investigated the use of CB2 receptor agonists (like CBD) in rats artificially infected with bacterial peritonitis. It found that using CBD decreased bacterial overgrowth and adhesion.
Because these findings are so promising, particularly with respect to cannabinoids’ effects on MRSA, it’s likely that more research will be done on CBD oil’s antibiotic qualities. This, as CBD and cannabis in general become more widely accepted on a legal level, which may mean that it could be just a short matter of time before CBD oil joins the ranks of revolutionary bacteria busters like penicillin.
CBD Oil as an Anti-Inflammatory
Inflammation plays a key role in helping the body fight a bacterial infection, but if left unchecked, it can also be problematic. Chronic inflammation can cause pain and stiffness in many areas of the body, and is also responsible for a host of internal conditions. Uncontrolled bacterial inflammation promotes apoptosis (cell death) and the generation of harmful free radicals, which has been linked to conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
CBD may reduce inflammation that accompanies a bacterial infection by working both directly and indirectly on endocannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system . These receptors are located throughout the body and central nervous system, with the CB2 cannabinoid receptor thought to play a significant role in the body’s regulation of inflammation. Cannabidiol (CBD) acts on CB2 receptors in a way that’s thought to be a major driving factor behind CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory qualities.
CBD has also been shown to increase levels of the brain neurotransmitter adenosine, which stimulates adenosine receptors. These receptors play a significant role in the reduction of cell inflammation , and when activated, could potentially help reduce effects or symptoms of an inflammatory response to a bacterial infection.
How to Take CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections
Before you start taking CBD oil, it is best to talk to your doctor. While generally considered safe with no significant side effects, CBD oil can interact with some medications, including certain antibiotics . The combination of CBD oil and antibiotics is not necessarily a dangerous one, but it is still important to understand how they function together and how it may impact your body.
By speaking with your doctor first, you can avoid any unwanted effects and establish a safe course of action going forward.
Once you have your physician’s approval to try using CBD oil to treat a bacterial infection, you’ll need to decide on a CBD delivery format. CBD oil is available to purchase in a large range of product types, and what you choose will ultimately come down to your personal preference and the types of symptoms you have.
For example, if a bacterial infection is affecting your skin, a CBD topical (lotion, cream, salve) will be the most direct way of addressing the issue. You can directly target the site of infection and let the CBD go to work for hours.
If the infection is wider spread, a more general delivery method like CBD oil drops or capsules may be a better choice. There is no shortage of options on the market, so do not be afraid to experiment in order to find what works best for you.
Dosage of CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections
Unfortunately, there is no universal dose of CBD oil for bacterial infections. Because CBD’s effects can depend on a number of factors like age, weight, and metabolism speed, it can be hard to come up with a single amount that works for everyone.
As a starting point, it is best to begin with the lowest recommended dosage on the information sheet included with a CBD oil product. You can also speak to a naturopathic doctor for a dosage recommendation that is specific to your condition and needs.
If you’re looking for further, more general guidance, we at CBD Oil Review have analyzed hundreds of products and have come up with a standard serving suggestion:
The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25 mg of CBD, taken twice daily.
If you are not getting results from this amount, we recommend increasing the serving amount by 25 mg every 3 to 4 weeks until you attain relief.
For more information on dosages and some useful tips for getting it right, check out our guide here .
The Best CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections
The best CBD oil for bacterial infections will be the one that works best for you. While that may seem like a frustrating non-answer, there are some things to consider that will help narrow down your options.
First, do not be afraid to try a few different brands and products. CBD oil will not cause you to become “high” or “intoxicated,” nor cause serious side effects , so experimenting with different options presents very little risk to your mental and physical health.
You should also understand the laws in your state around cannabis and CBD oil . While the vast majority of CBD oil products on the market will follow the federal guidelines laid out in the 2018 Farm Bill , namely that CBD oil should contain 0.3% THC or less, some products may contain more. If you live in a state with legal access to recreational and medicinal cannabis, this will be less of a concern. But for states with more restrictive access, you’ll want to check and verify the THC content before making a purchase.
Understanding the law will help you narrow things down between a full-spectrum CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil, or CBD oil isolate. A full-spectrum CBD oil is one that contains all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids found in the whole hemp plant, including the mind-altering compound THC. A broad-spectrum CBD oil contains everything a full-spectrum product contains except THC. A CBD oil isolate is just CBD without any of the other compounds of the hemp plant.
Most full-spectrum products will be in line with federal laws, meaning they should not contain THC in amounts that will make you feel “high.” However, there will always be outliers, which is why doing your research is important.
While researching CBD products to buy, look for the following to ensure you’re getting the best, high-quality CBD oil for bacterial infections:
- Ingredients . Typically, the best CBD oils will have the fewest ingredients. You will want a CBD oil that contains CBD, a carrier oil like MCT oil or hemp seed oil, and other natural ingredients. Avoid anything that contains chemicals or artificial additives.
- Product sourcing . Look for brands that source products from organically grown hemp, which is more agriculturally sustainable and free of harmful pesticides and herbicides.
- Certificates of Analysis (CoA) . Most reputable brands will send out their CBD products for independent lab testing to ensure quality and potency. The lab results from these tests are then posted in a Certificate of Analysis. This analysis will tell you what hemp compounds (cannabinoids, terpenes, etc.) are in the CBD product as well as any harmful heavy metals or chemicals that may remain after the extraction process . This is also where you can verify the accuracy of the CBD amount claimed on the packaging, as well as check the THC content.
While research on the uses of CBD oil for bacterial infections is ongoing, it appears that it could present an effective and beneficial alternative or supplement to traditional antibiotics.
If you found this topic interesting, you may also enjoy:
- (2020) Antibiotic resistance – World Health Organization https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance
- (2021) Biggest Threats and Data – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/biggest-threats.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fdrugresistance%2Fbiggest_threats.html
- Elizabeth Pennisi (2019) Evidence mounts that gut bacteria can influence mood, prevent depression – American Association for the Advancement of Science https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/evidence-mounts-gut-bacteria-can-influence-mood-prevent-depression
- Giovanni Appendino et al. (2008) Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure−Activity Study – The American Chemical Society and American Society of Pharmacognosy https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/np8002673
- Ying-Ying Yang et al. (2014) Long-term cannabinoid type 2 receptor agonist therapy decreases bacterial translocation in rats with cirrhosis and ascites – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24953022/
- Fehmida Bibi et al. Link between chronic bacterial inflammation and Alzheimer disease – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25230225/
- A Thomas et al. (2007) Cannabidiol displays unexpectedly high potency as an antagonist of CB1 and CB2 receptor agonists in vitro – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17245363/
- Clementino Ibeas Bih et al. (2015) Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Neurological Disorders – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604182/
- 2018 Farm Bill – U.S. Department of Agriculture https://www.farmers.gov/working-with-us/farm-bill
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CBD as a Superbug Antibiotic?
June 24, 2019 — Cannabidiol, or CBD, already being researched and used for anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy and pain, may be the next superbug fighter for resistant infections, a new study suggests.
The researchers tested CBD against a wide variety of bacteria, ”including bacteria that have become resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics,” says Mark Blaskovich, PhD, senior research officer at the Centre for Superbug Solutions at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland in Australia.
The development is important, as antibiotic resistance is reaching dangerously high levels, according to the World Health Organization.
What the Research Shows
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound taken from cannabis and hemp; it does not produce the high that regular marijuana does. To date, the FDA has only approved CBD for treating rare and severe forms of seizure, although it is promoted for many other health benefits.
Blaskovich presented the research Sunday at the American Society for Microbiology annual meeting. The research includes work in test tubes and animal models. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
“The first thing we looked at is CBD’s ability to kill bacteria,” he says. “In every case, CBD had a very similar potency to that of common antibiotics.”
The researchers tested the CBD against some strains of staphylococcus, which cause skin infections, and streptococcus, which cause strep throat.
They compared how effective CBD was compared to common antibiotics, such as vancomycin and daptomycin. “We looked at how quickly the CBD killed the bacteria. It’s quite fast, within 3 hours, which is pretty good. Vancomycin (Vancocin) kills over 6 to 8 hours.”
The CBD also disrupted the biofilm, the layer of ”goop” around bacteria that makes it more difficult for the antibiotic to penetrate and kill.
Finally, the lab studies showed that “CBD is much less likely to cause resistance than the existing antibiotics,” Blaskovich says.
The CBD ”is selective for the type of bacteria,” he says.
He found it effective against gram-positive bacteria but not gram-negative. Gram-positive bacteria cause serious skin infections and pneumonia, among other conditions. Gram-negative bacteria include salmonella (found in undercooked foods) and E. coli (the cause of urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and other ailments), among other bacteria.
In another study, also presented at the meeting, the researchers tested topical CBD to treat a skin infection on mice. It cut the number of bacteria after 48 hours, Blaskovich says, although it did not clear the infection. That research is ongoing.
How It Might Work, Caveats
The researchers can’t say exactly how the CBD may prove to be a superbug infection fighter. “We thought it might work by damaging the outer membrane of the bacteria, to make it leaky,” Blaskovich says. “It doesn’t seem to do that. It might be a completely new mechanism of action.”
He says the research results are promising but in early stages. He also warns people that it’s much too early to self-treat infections with CBD.
The study was funded by Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., which is researching uses of CBD for skin conditions, and the Australian government. Blaskovich is a consultant for Botanix.
Brandon Novy, a microbiology researcher at Reed College in Portland, OR, calls the study findings ”very promising,” since the results show the bacteria were not able to form resistance to the CBD, and since the bacteria were not able to form a biofilm.
Both findings are important. “The biofilm is an important part of the whole infection process,” he says. “It helps the bacteria attach [to whatever surface or host] and survive.”
At the same meeting, Novy presented a preliminary study, finding that CBD also looks promising to fight some gram-negative infections.
“It is an important study that deserves to be followed up on,” says Amesh Adalja, MD, an infectious disease doctor and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
He was not involved in the new study. But he cautions that ”it is important to keep it all in context. I think it is a good thing that people are looking at the use of CBD for infectious uses in a systematic way.”
But the work so far is only in test tubes and animals. Many question remain, such as looking at whether it is toxic, doses, and the best way to deliver the CBD, Adalja says. He, too, cautions against self-treating with CBD for infections.
Amesh Adalja, MD, infectious disease specialist and senior scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
American Society for Microbiology annual meeting, June 23, 2019, San Francisco.
Mark Blaskovich, PhD, senior research officer, Centre for Superbug Solutions, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Australia.