Research highlights antibiotic properties of CBD

Early findings from lab tests show marijuana compound has potential to be effective in killing bacteria

Scientists in Australia have revealed they have had some early success with cannabidiol (CBD) as the medical world searches for new antibiotics.

Researchers in Brisbane say the first stages of their experiments have shown that CBD is proving to be effective against bacteria, but they warn the results are only preliminary and further tests need to be carried out.

The results, released by the Centre for Superbug Solutions – part of the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, showed the cannabis derivative was successful in tackling a selection of ‘gram-positive’ bacteria including strains of strep and staph bacteria. It also killed some types which are largely immune to other antibiotics.

Speaking to medical journal Live Science, study leader Mark Blaskovich urged caution over the interpreting the early research as a resounding success.

“It needs a lot more work to show that CBD would be useful to treat infections in humans,” he said.

“It would be very dangerous to try to treat a serious infection with cannabidiol instead of one of the tried and tested antibiotics.”

The research is being pioneered in conjunction with drug-discovery company Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd as it explores uses of synthetic cannabidiol for a range of skin conditions.

The ‘in vitro’ experiments, experts caution, will often be successful in laboratory conditions but the effects may not necessarily be repeated in humans.

“Just because CBD has antibiotic activity in an in vitro assay doesn’t mean it does in the human body,” said senior scholar Dr Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.

“Lots of different compounds have antibiotic activity in a petri dish, but it’s more evidence that there are a lot of untapped avenues of research with CBD.”

The next steps in Brisbane, say researchers, are to conduct studies on animals in order to understand what kinds of infections CBD might be able to treat. Botanix said it was also looking towards human clinical trials in the near future.

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