Cannabidiol As An Antibiotic Booster

Staphylococcus aureus and cannabidiol
Staphylococcus aureus | Image source: CDC

Another study has indicated the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) could have an important role to play in battling antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Overuse of antibiotics is the main cause of antibiotic resistance, but misuse also plays a role – for example, not completing a course of antibiotics. The health sector is  facing a situation where few drugs are effective against some bacteria and development of new antibiotics is currently experiencing an “innovation gap”.

Last year we mentioned preliminary University of Queensland research demonstrating cannabidiol was effective in killing bacteria in lab testing – including some bacteria that have become mainstream antibiotic resistant.

More recently, a research team from University of Southern Denmark discovered that combining CBD and antibiotics produces a more powerful effect than can be seen than when treating with antibiotics alone. This means less antibiotics could be required to kill X number of bacteria.

The study involved using CBD and the antibiotic bacitracin against Staphylococcus aureus bacteria; which is responsible for staph infections and is frequently the culprit for community- and hospital-acquired disease. Staph infections can be fatal – according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 20,000 people died with bloodstream staph infections in 2017.

As to why the combination of CBD and bacitracin is effective, that’s not entirely clear:

“Membrane potential changes for the combination of CBD and BAC compared to either CBD or BAC treatment alone did not reveal the mechanism of action for the combination of CBD and BAC,” state the researchers. “Future studies are therefore focused on the cell division and cell envelope to identify the mechanism of action.”

The University of Southern Denmark study, led by Janne Kudsk Klitgaard, was published in the journal Scientific Reports and can be found here.

It’s really important to note that these findings don’t mean people should forgo the use of antibiotics prescribed or to use less and “boost” them with CBD. This is all early research and a prescribing doctor’s instructions should always be followed.

Trivia: According to the researchers, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids as antibacterial agents was first described in 1976 and again in 2008. But since then and aside from the Queensland research, little has been published on the topic. Apparently, CBD is an effective antimicrobial compound with a MIC value of 4 µg/mL against S. aureus USA300 and other Gram-positive bacteria.