The research into industrial hemp and the potential benefits of cannabinoids like CBD are still relatively new, but you might have heard of some of popular uses, likely for pain relief or as a sleep aid. However, new CBD research is offering some promise in a much bigger capacity—an effective antibiotic. So what does the research say?

CBD vs. Bacteria

Why was CBD tested against bacteria in the first place? Bacteria is becoming resistant to common antibiotics. In an effort to combat “superbugs,” researchers are constantly looking for alternative options to current treatment options. That’s where CBD* came in.

*The CBD used in the study was synthetically made to eliminate any impurities that may alter the results.

What Does the Research Say?

The study by Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. shows that CBD is “remarkably effective” at killing bacteria. The caveat is that, at this point, testing has been limited to test tubes and animals, so there’s nothing conclusive in regard to actual human testing.

Although there isn’t anything significant yet regarding human use, there are plenty of other reasons to be positive about this discovery:

  • Compared to common antibiotics, such as vancomycin and daptomycin, CBD killed bacteria in about half the time (3 hours compared to 6-8 hours).
  • Biofilm (a protective layer around the bacteria) was disrupted, which means that it penetrated through the bacteria’s defense mechanism.
  • CBD isn’t as likely to cause resistance as existing antibiotics.

Unfortunately, there’s currently one major drawback to CBD as an antibiotic. In the study, CBD was tested against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. The results showed that CBD is selective for the type of bacteria it attacks, so the CBD in the study was only effective against gram-positive bacteria.

Another potential roadblock is that, while promising, CBD’s bacteria fighting abilities in test tubes and controlled settings won’t necessarily translate to the same capabilities in humans.

What Does the Future Look Like for CBD as an Antibiotic?

The best part of this initial study is that there’s an enormous amount of untapped potential with CBD as an antibiotic. So what things will be evaluated next?

  • Bacteria were not able to form resistance to CBD, which is a major problem for current antibiotics, but it’s impossible to say whether that result will last long term.
  • CBD’s ability to prevent bacteria from creating biofilm, which acts as a layer of protection for the bacteria.
  • If CBD will be able to be used against gram-negative bacteria (currently cannot).

While there’s still a long road ahead in terms of human testing and other necessary evaluations, CBD could be determined to be an effective antibiotic after more research is conducted.

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