CBD as an Antibiotic: Does It Work?
Cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from the hemp plant is known for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and relaxing effects. It has been studied for many diseases indications. The clinical studies on CBD show that it is effective in preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, treating chronic pain, relieving anxiety and depression, treating sleep disorders, and many more.
According to the latest studies, CBD can also have antimicrobial effects. Therefore, it is possible to use it as a natural and more effective antibiotic.
Antimicrobial resistance is one of the worst problems we encounter today. Bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. The risk of having untreatable infections increases every day. That is why we are searching for new effective antibiotics all the time.
Despite the current global focus on COVID-19 and coronavirus, bacteria have always been our main enemy. The greatest fear among most scientists is to live in “a post-antibiotic era” where bacteria become completely resistant to all types of antibiotics.
In this article, we will discuss everything about the antibiotic effects of CBD.
CBD Has an Antibiotic Effect
In the 1950s, many Cannabis Sativa preparations were used as topical antiseptic agents for the mouth and skin to treat bacterial infections. These preparations were even used as antitubercular agents. Unfortunately, the full picture of the phytochemicals of cannabis was not clear at this time, they couldn’t define the main reasons behind the antibacterial effects of cannabis.
In 2008, a study published in the Journal of Natural Products confirmed the cannabis plant antibacterial effects. The study found that all five major cannabinoids including CBD and THC have antibacterial properties against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains.
Unfortunately, after this amazing study, it wasn’t followed up until 2021. A study was presented at the Annual American Conference of Microbiologists proved that CBD can eradicate a wide number of different bacteria and pathogens including more than 20 types of gram-negative bacteria such as multiple strains of the key pathogens MRSA, multidrug-resistant (MDR) Streptococcus pneumoniae, Enterococcus faecalis, and the anaerobic bacteria Clostridioides (previously known as Clostridium difficile) and Cutibacterium (previously known as Propionibacterium acnes).
This study even confirmed that CBD can be used against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and pathogens. It also suggested that CBD may not lose its ability to eradicate the bacteria with prolonged use due to the unique mechanism of action. Even compared to vancomycin and daptomycin, CBD didn’t lose its ability to kill the bacteria. The study was very interesting and can be considered an important breakthrough in our fight against bacteria.
CBD Attacks the Biofilms of Bacteria
CBD’s mechanism of action depends on attacking and destroying the natural biofilms of bacteria. To understand the mechanism of action better, we need to understand what bacterial biofilms are and how they protect the bacteria against our immune system, and the action of antibiotics.
Biofilms are one of the best modes of life on our planet. They usually contain populations of the same bacteria. However, some of them contain communities of different species of bacteria. All of them live under what scientists call “a protective dome”.
The protective dome usually consists of all kinds of compounds, components, and substances needed for the bacteria to survive such as sugars, proteins, fats, and DNA molecules.
Besides, biofilms are highly-specialized communities. For example, certain strains of bacteria are responsible for nutrient recycling while other strains form new components or are responsible for communicating between the different areas of the biofilm.
In other words, biofilms allow the bacteria to become stronger by living together, sharing resources, and resisting eradication.
CBD attacks biofilms. It inhibits the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and peptides, which destroys biofilms. In addition, it has a potent bactericidal effect that shut down all the synthesis pathways to prevent the re-formation of the biofilms.
Moreover, CBD inhibits lipid synthesis in biofilms. That is why it can cause major disruptions in the bacterial membranes and increase their permeability to antibiotics.
In a nutshell, CBD can destroy biofilms completely. By making it more vulnerable, our immune system along with other antibiotics can eradicate them and subsequently get rid of infections.
What Is MRSA?
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria. They have developed resistance to our conventional antibiotics. That is why they are called “MRSA Superbug” or “Golden Staph”.
MRSA infections are extremely dangerous because they mainly affect patients in hospitals, nursing homes, ICUs, dialysis centers, and other settings. This type of MRSA infection is called Healthcare-Associated MRSA or HA-MRSA. The main cause of this type of infection is usually invasive procedures and devices such as catheters, intravenous tubing, or surgeries. HA-MRSA can either be spread by patients who come in contact with unclean surfaces or by health care providers who come in contact with patients without cleaning their hands.
There is another type of MRSA infection that occurs outside hospitals among us. It is called Community-Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA). This infection is usually spread by skin-to-skin contact and starts with a painful skin boil.
MRSA infections are hard to treat since the bacteria are resistant to most antibiotics. It can lead to serious infections that subsequently sepsis and death.
Another problem that occurs with MRSA infections and other antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections is the effects of antibiotics on gut bacteria. Extensive antibiotic courses wipe out gut bacteria including beneficial ones that regulate our digestive system. This can lead to severe GIT problems in the long run.
CBD Against Antibiotic-Resistant MRSA Germs
CBD can be the perfect solution to the MRSA dilemma. There is strong evidence that CBD can attack and help in the eradication of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
A 2018 study reported that cannabinoids are effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Regarding MRSA, two active compounds, cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) were extremely effective against many strains of MRSA.
To understand how these compounds work against MRSA, we need to understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS) first.
The ECS system consists of endocannabinoids (ECs) in addition to the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). CB1 and CB2 are distributed throughout the body. They are activated endogenously by the ECs and exogenously by synthetic CBD and THC compounds.
When the cannabinoid receptors are activated, they activate different immune cells such as macrophages and neutrophils. Macrophages are one of the most important types of white blood cells (WBCs). They engulf and digest pathogens such as bacteria. Neutrophils are another type of WBCs and form the largest number of immune cells compared to other kinds. They kill and digest bacteria and enhance the ability of the body to fight infections.
The 2008 study published in the Journal of Natural Products by the American Chemical Society showed that CBD and CBG in addition to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC) can eradicate many strains of MRSA. The mechanism of action was not fully understood back then.
This research paper concluded that since C. Sativa is rich in non-psychotropic cannabinoids, it can be a great used widely against MRSA and other drug-resistant bacteria. The study suggested conducting more research clinically since MRSA is one of the most crucial health issues in the world. In the US, MRSA kills more people than AIDS annually.
More studies have shown that C. Sativa extracts have antimicrobial effects on a wide variety of pathogens. All these studies indicate that Cannabis extracts have great therapeutic potential in our fight against bacteria, especially antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA. Using cannabinoids systemically requires numerous clinical trials. However, the oral and topical applications to inhibit and kill MRSA skin colonization show promising results.
CBD and Antibiotics Supra-additivity or Synergism
CBD can enhance the effects of antibiotics significantly. To understand how this works, we need to understand the role of membrane vesicles (MVs) in bacterial infections.
Membrane vesicles are particles released by the bacteria to be able to invade our cells. They enable the bacteria to communicate with our cells before attacking them.
A 2019 study published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology Journal was done to see if the antibacterial effects of cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from Cannabis Sativa can participate in the inhibition of the MVs production. The study concluded that CBD can inhibit the release of MVs, especially in gram-negative bacteria such as E. coli.
When CBD was used in combination with antibiotics, CBD enhanced the bactericidal activity of the antibiotics significantly on the gram-negative bacteria. On the other hand, it didn’t affect the MVs release in most gram-positive strains of bacteria. Yet, it enhanced the bactericidal effects of several antibiotics such as kanamycin.
The study concluded that CBD can be used in combination with certain antibiotics to enhance their effectiveness. It suggested using CBD according to certain criteria such as the bacterial species, the degree of antibiotic resistance, and the selected antibiotic.
This study opens an important window regarding lowering the dosages of antibiotics in order to decrease the level of resistance. Since CBD enhances the effects of antibiotics, it is logical that we can decrease the dose of antibiotics in the future and still achieve the same results.
Some scientists are convinced that CBD can replace antibiotics completely one day. One of the major advantages of CBD is that there is no evidence that the bacteria can develop resistance to it. Therefore, they will always be able to eradicate bacterial infection or at least enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics. More research is required for sure but one-day, we may find that cannabinoids have replaced antibiotics completely.
CBD as a Natural Antibiotic Medication
After the previous studies and evidence, we can say that CBD has what it requires to be one of the most important medications in the near future. If cannabidiol-based medications replaced chemical antibiotics, we would be depending on natural, plant-based medications to eradicate bacterial infections instead of chemical antibiotics. Whether cannabidiol-based drugs are used in the medical field or other areas such as veterinary medicine, in which antibiotics are used extensively, we can make the best use of these natural substances to enhance the overall health of humans and animals. After all, the antibiotics used in animals are consumed and metabolized by us one way or another.
However, before this dream comes true, more studies and clinical trials should be done. Most CBD products and drugs focus on the anti-inflammatory and pain-management areas. But research shows that CBD has more to offer.
Dosage, Efficacy, and Safety of CBD as an Antibiotic
Since the studies on the antibiotic effects of CBD differ in the usage of formulations, dosage, and administration routes, it is hard to identify the best dosage of CBD as an antibiotic.
On the other hand, CBD is 100% safe according to nearly all the studies. Even the higher dosages do not show any dangerous side effects. In all the studies, CBD and other Cannabis Sativa extracts were well-tolerated no matter how they were administered. Of course, the efficacy is guaranteed and the results are very promising.
It is highly recommended to consult your healthcare provider before using CBD for bacterial infections.
Are You New to CBD?
If you are new to CBD products, we recommend trying one of our high-quality CBD products. You can start with a low dose and slowly increase it as required to achieve the best results.
The Bottom Line
The research about the antibiotic effects of CBD is incredible and shows promising results. CBD can attack and kill certain strains of bacteria including antibiotic-resistant strains. Besides, the bacteria cannot develop resistance to it. For now, CBD can be used along with antibiotics to enhance their effectiveness and help in lowering the dosages and preventing further bacterial resistance.
At Wellness Garden, we aim to provide our customers with high-quality CBD products for different health conditions. All our products are pure and effective according to our customer reviews.
We also want to educate our audience about CBD. We believe that Cannabis Sativa has a lot to offer to our health. Cannabis has been one of the most popular plants on the planet for centuries. Its medicinal, therapeutic, and even industrial and economic benefits are numerous. However, when it comes to using it, there are a lot of misunderstandings.