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Bacteria, like every other organism on the planet, can evolve to counteract new threats in their environment, including our antibiotics. 

When a new antibiotic comes onto the market, it’s usually highly effective, wiping out the selected pathogen with which it comes into contact. Then slowly, over time, bacteria begin to adapt. Eventually, they develop so much resistance that no concentration of antibiotics will kill them. 

Over the last thirty years, the problem of antimicrobial resistance has really begun to bite. That’s why the prospect that CBD might have antibiotic properties is so appealing. CBD may have the capacity to kill dangerous microbes that some standard therapies can’t touch. Let’s take a look at what current studies are saying.

A New Australian Study Suggests That CBD Might Be An Effective Antibiotic

While the evidence is by no means conclusive, research suggests that CBD may be able to kill bacteria that have developed resistance to standard antibiotics. 

The hype has been generated by a study from Australia that appears to indicate that CBD contains factors that damage certain, dangerous bacteria. 

Researchers at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Superbug Solutions tested whether CBD was effective against a couple of nasty bacteria that cause throat infections: staph and strep. The scientists dripped CBD onto strains that have developed resistance to common antibiotics and found that it was able to exert a positive effect, reducing the viability of both organisms. 

The researchers backed away from any suggestion that CBD might become a new class of antibiotics. While it kills bacteria in the lab, there’s currently no evidence that it translates in humans. Lead investigator Mark Blaskovich said that he and his team needed to do more research to find out the specific mechanisms for how CBD works and what they can do to make it more effective. So far, all his team can conclude is that their CBD-based therapy works on the surface of the skin. They can’t say anything about its effects inside the body. To test that, he said, his team will need to administer it orally or directly into the bloodstream. 

Previous studies offer tantalizing evidence that CBD conveys other health benefits. Researchers at the UC Davis Department of Chemistry, for instance, found that CBD herbal products may help people with epilepsy reduce their symptoms. Likewise, investigators publishing in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that CBD medication Epidiolax helps to combat cravings in people trying to kick opioid addiction

So should you ditch your antibiotics and start taking CBD to combat infections instead? Not so fast, says Blaskovich. We’re a long way from proving that CBD is an effective antimicrobial medicine, and most traditional antibiotics still work against most infections. The age of widespread antibiotic resistance is not quite upon us. People who take CBD instead of their prescription antibiotics could be putting their lives at risk.

In typical scientific style, Blaskovich says that much more research needs to be done to see whether CBD products can treat infection in humans. There need to be trials which test the effects of cannabidiol on mild bacterial infections before anybody with a severe disease puts their faith in the stuff. And those studies could be a long way away. 

How Has The Scientific Community Reacted To The News? 

The scientific community has reacted cautiously to the Australian study. There’s always a temptation for hype to build whenever a breakthrough like this happens. However, there are some cautiously optimistic voices making their opinions known. 

Dr. Andrew Edwards, an expert in Molecular Microbiology at Imperial College London and not associated with the study, said that scientists hadn’t fully appreciated the properties of CBD until now. It’s clear, he told Newsweek in an interview, that CBD appears to have significant “activity” against antibiotic-resistant strains. 

What’s more, he points out, the effect of the best CBD products are already well understood in humans. Researchers have already established the safety of the compounds. There’s a good chance, therefore, that full-scale clinical trials could be fast-tracked.

There is one negative in the research that Edwards points out: cannabidiol is not effective against gram-negative bacteria. These are the type of bacteria which scientists most want to target because of their very selective outer membrane. 

So, in conclusion, the evidence for the positive health effects of CBD continues to mount. We look forward to future clinical trials testing the internal effectiveness of CBD for people with antibiotic-resistant infections. Stay up-to-date on CBD news on our blog!

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