According to a new study conducted by researchers at The University of Queensland in Australia, CBD has serious potential as an antibiotic and could be used to treat drug-resistant bacteria responsible for illnesses like gonorrhea, meningitis, and legionnaires disease.
The study was published last month in the scientific journal Communications Biology. This was a simulated study conducted safely in a lab with controlled samples and did not involve any human subjects.
The UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience's Associate Professor Mark Blaskovich said that CBD could be a new class of antibiotics. If true, this would be the first time in roughly 60 years that a new class of antibiotics was discovered.
Dr. Blaskovich said that cannabidiol can break through a protective layer of biofilm that conventional antibiotics are powerless against in some bacteria. In many cases, this biofilm develops as a mutation to protect the bacteria from the drugs and natural human immunities.
"This is the first time CBD has been shown to kill some types of Gram-negative bacteria. These bacteria have an extra outer membrane, an additional line of defense that makes it harder for antibiotics to penetrate," Dr. Blaskovich said in a press release.
Another advantage that Dr. Blaskovich's team found in using CBD was that the bacteria appeared to be unable to build up a resistance to the treatment. For some reason that was not immediately clear to the researchers, bacteria that was typically drug-resistant was unable to mutate to defend itself against CBD.
"Cannabidiol showed a low tendency to cause resistance in bacteria even when we sped up potential development by increasing concentrations of the antibiotic during 'treatment'. We think that cannabidiol kills bacteria by bursting their outer cell membranes, but we don't know yet exactly how it does that, and need to do further research,” Blaskovich said.
The researchers also experimented with chemical analogs of CBD and found them to be effective as well. This means that they plan on engineering different synthetic versions of CBD that might be more suited to treat specific illnesses.
The study was backed by the drug company Botanix Pharmaceuticals Limited, which has already begun development on a CBD-based antibiotic and planned a set of upcoming clinical trials for the treatment. The results from the first trials are expected to be published sometime this year, but Blaskovich estimates that it could take between 10 and 15 years before a CBD-based antibiotic is approved for the market in Australia.
Professor Mike Barnes, a neurologist based in the UK, was a bit more optimistic about the potential time frame, at least for British patients. Barnes told Metro that he hopes such treatments can be available in the UK within the next five years. Unfortunately, there is no indication that a treatment like this will be available in the US anytime soon. It will likely take a few years and further research before CBD-based antibiotics are approved by regulators, but scientists and medical health experts are excited about the potential future of these products.
This is just one of many recent studies where cannabis has been shown to have incredible healing potential. Earlier this month, we highlighted a different study showing that cannabis seemed to significantly reduce blood pressure in older adults with hypertension.