It has recently been discovered that cannabidiol (CBD) has the potential to act as a type of antibiotic and tackle the increasing issue of superbugs.
In 2015, the World Health Organisation
the bacteria that causes many sickness bugs has been rapidly mutating and
becoming resistant to most available antibiotics, mainly due to the misuse and
overuse of antibiotics as well as poor infection prevention.
The recent antibiotics resistance has
become a global health crisis with many governments and health organisations
recognising it as one of the gravest challenges to public health today.
The future could see the rise of
superbugs which end up being lethal and untreatable if immediate action to
quell the resistance isn’t taken, and common infections will ultimately start
killing people again.
As a result of such findings, there
has been heightened concern from pharmacists who have been frantically trying
to redesign antibiotics in order to combat the rapidly advancing bacteria,
whilst simultaneously trying not to contribute to the resistance issue.
The new research has found that their
attempts in creating a miracle cure may be in vain, as CBD has been available
for centuries and has properties that can act as an antibiotic.
An article on WebMD states that CBD has the ability to “kill bacteria” and that it holds a “similar potency to common antibiotics”.
Quicker than Vancomycin
It also kills bacteria in just three
hours, which is more than twice as quick as Vancomycin which kills bacteria in
just six to eight hours.
CBD has the ability to disrupt the
layers of liquid (biofilm) around the bacteria cells, which is usually in place
to make it harder for antibiotics to penetrate and eliminate the source of
The innovative lab studies also
demonstrate that “CBD is much less likely to cause resistance than the existing
antibiotics” making the new discovery promising for the future of global
So far the CBD has proved to be
selective with bacteria, wherein the tests showed that currently CBD is only
effective against gram-positive bacteria which causes conditions such as
pneumonia, strep throat and skin infections among a few other types.
Unfortunately, it is so far non effective
against gram-negative strains usually associated with gastrointestinal
salmonella and E. Coli which can often be the cause of urinary tract infections
and diarrhoea, as these typically have a stronger outer membrane making it
harder for antibiotics to get through.
On a positive note, another researcher
presented findings that CBD could potentially look promising in fighting
certain types of gram-negative infections in the future and some noted that “it
is an important study that deserves to be followed up on”.
The scientists point out that
regardless of how promising the research has been, it is still in the early
stages and cautions people against self-treating infections for the time-being
and to continue with standard antibiotics as further research is vital for
information on dosage amounts, toxicity and the delivery methods to enable CBD
to be used effectively as a future alternative.
Overhyped use case or miracle cure?
The common issue with rampant CBD
marketing is that it’s often touted as a miracle cure-all medicine that treats
any and all ailments, however the compound only treats a limited amount of
conditions in the recent antibiotics studies so far.
When considered on a wider scale, CBD
has notably been accredited for successfully aiding illnesses such as epilepsy,
anxiety, depression and use as an effective pain management supplement by a
multitude of scientific findings and reports within recent years.
On September 23 GW Pharmaceuticals,
the only pharmaceutical company that has currently been using CBD as a key
ingredient in one of its drugs, announced
that it had received approval from the European Commission to use its CBD oil
based pharmaceutical Epidyolex as a treatment for seizures in sufferers of
The British company GW Pharmaceuticals
was the first company to receive approval from the FDA in the United States for
their CBD-based drug Epidyolex in 2018.
The pharmaceutical company now plans
to launch the CBD drug in Europe following the decision, stating that they “believe
patients and physicians deserve access to rigorously tested and evaluated
cannabis-based medicines, manufactured to the highest standards and approved by
medicines regulators” and that they are “delighted to be the first to offer
this solution to the epilepsy community”.
This monumental announcement serves as
a promising launch into establishing the medicinal status of CBD and further
encourages more scientific studies to take place in the future on the
optimistic potential of the compound.
The overwhelming research pointing to
the fact that CBD is not only effective for many illnesses but also recently
effective in killing bacteria and acting as an important antibiotic, which
could eventually be used to treat millions of people across the world on a
daily basis and protect against the alarming threat of superbugs in the near
How long before CBD antibiotics hit the shelves?
The health world is slowly warming to
the idea of CBD as a medicinal compound and increasing their awareness of its
The UK, US and several countries
around the world have all started allowing the sale of CBD on a mass-scale, but
we aren’t quite there yet in terms of doctors prescribing and allowing the use
of CBD as an alternative to conventional medicines.
Many prescriptions often come with a
long list of side effects and some can be deadly. In the case of
anti-depressants, some carry the strictest cautions in the form of black
box warnings for the potential of experiencing an
increase in suicidal thoughts or opiate based drugs which result in dizziness,
slurred speech, nausea and the high potential to develop an addiction.
Many UK MPs have already expressed
concern over the country lagging behind in enabling CBD-based medical
prescriptions to be available for patients who would benefit from them over the
current prescriptions they receive, with change possibly happening in the
future as further positive research results are released.
CBD could be the golden answer to the many problems of traditional medicines and the impending threat of superbugs, with the much-needed research ramping up, it shouldn’t be long before the cannabis-based compound could be the go-to prescription for the multitude of ailments people experience daily.