Preliminary Findings Show CBD Could Help Fight Superbugs

Research is at its very early stages, but CBD is showing promise as an antibiotic.
Chris Young

The worrying ascent of superbugs that are immune to commonly used antibiotics is seeing researchers look for new solutions, especially in antibiotics research.

A new study has shown that CBD, or cannabidiol, extracted from cannabis plants is a "remarkably effective" candidate, at least in test conditions.


Preliminary results

These are very early findings and a lot more research is needed, so people should absolutely not self-medicate, the researchers say.

However, the study, conducted in collaboration with Botanic Pharmaceuticals Ltd., did show that CBD has antibiotic effects against several Gram-positive bacteria, including types of staph and strep bacteria. Some of these strains had shows resistance to other antibiotic drugs.

"It needs a lot more work to show [that CBD] would be useful to treat infections in humans," said study lead author Mark Blaskovich, of The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience's Centre for Superbug Solutions in Brisbane, Australia.

"It would be very dangerous to try to treat a serious infection with cannabidiol instead of one of the tried and tested antibiotics," Blaskovich told Live Science.

A word of caution

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, did tell Live Science that caution is needed in these studies. Especially as people might read preliminary results as conclusive evidence that CBD is an effective antibiotic.

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"Just because [CBD] has antibiotic activity in an in vitro assay doesn't mean it does in the human body," said Adalja. "Lots of different compounds … have [antibiotic] activity in a petri dish."

The promise is there, but more tests and research are needed.

The work was presented on June 23 in San Francisco at ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. The research is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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