Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

New CBD Research Shows Promise as Superbug Antibiotic

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid (a component of cannabis) that is currently being researched as a drug to manage various conditions. Currently, Cannabidiol products are used to manage chronic pain, epilepsy, and seizures, insomnia, stress, and anxiety, among others. 

A new study, presented at the American Society for Microbiology, suggests CBD consumables may be the next big thing in the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The research has found that CBD products have anti-microbial action on resistant strains of Gram-positive bacteria. This includes some that cause severe infections like Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus (MERSA).

This is a significant development, given that the WHO puts antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to global health in the 21st century.

Research Methodology and Findings

The research was conducted at the University of Queensland, Australia. They tested a wide variety of bacteria using CBD, including the antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. The team was led by Center for Superbug Solutions (within the Institute of Molecular Bioscience) senior research officer Dr. Mark Blaskovich.

So far, the work has been done in animal models and test tubes (in vitro research). However, it has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, and so the study is still considered preliminary.

CBD is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis or hemp plants, which means that it doesn’t give the high associated with using marijuana. Even though many states have legalized some form of marijuana use (Colorado is one of the ten states that has legalized recreational use of marijuana), many applications are not FDA-approved. Today, the only approved CBD use is to treat rare and severe seizure ailments, such as Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.

Considering their ability to kill bacteria, CBD products showed bactericidal activity similar to that of conventional antibiotics. Researchers also tested action against Streptococcus (strep throat) and Staphylococcus (skin infections). The compared efficacy of CBD with common antibiotics like daptomycin and vancomycin.

CBD killed the bacteria within 3 hours, which is remarkable, considering vancomycin acts in 6-8 hours. Another noteworthy finding is that CBD can disrupt the biofilm, which is the gooey substance that surrounds and protects bacteria. The biofilm is the reason antibiotics are unable to reach the bacteria to kill them. Also, Cannabidiol products were found to be less likely to result in antibiotic resistance.

The study found that CBD is active against Gram-positive bacteria, but not gram-negative ones. The former cause serious skin infections and pneumonia, while the latter include Salmonella (found in undercooked meats and foods) and Escherichia coli (UTIs, diarrhea, etc.).

Another study presented in the same ASM meeting showed that topical application of CBD on a skin infection in mice caused some effect. In 48 hours, bacteria numbers were cut down, though not cleared off. The research is still ongoing, but it could mean great things for hemp CBD skin care products.

Caveats and Proposed Mechanisms of Action

The researchers don’t have an exact reason for how the CBD is working to kill bacteria. One postulate was that CBD damages the bacteria’s outer membrane, which makes the bacteria’s cytoplasm to leak out. Further research disproved this, so it might use a completely new mechanism.

However, the research is still in its early stages. Therefore, people should not use these results to self-medicate using CBD products like CBD hemp oil, CBD capsules or CBD tinctures. Speaking to a professional versed with different strains of CBD and marijuana is advised before taking any products. 


Finding a therapy that can combat bacteria without raising the likelihood of resistance will be a game-changer in the global health scene. So far, the studies have only been done in vitro and on animals. Clinical human trials should be done before FDA approval can enter the horizon.  

Nonetheless, this is a huge stride that could CBD products on the shelves for the treatment of many known infections. Other questions include the potential for toxicity, long-term side effects and the best way to deliver CBD for the most potent activity.

For any questions about CBD and CBD products, be sure to contact us today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *