From diabetes to fibromyalgia, the list of potential conditions treatable with cannabidiol or CBD continues to grow.
That’s why it is no surprise that CBD is also being researched for its potential antibiotic effects.
Preliminary research results have signaled the possibility for CBD to enhance or even outperform traditional antibiotics in some cases.
These findings have many scientists questioning if CBD is the next generation antibiotic.
Research teams with the University of Queensland (UQ) and Botanix Pharmaceuticals recently collaborated to study CBD’s ability to function as an antibiotic agent. Their testing, which included a two-week patient treatment simulation, produced results that have scientists asking if CBD may eventually be used as a revolutionary type of antibiotic.
Associate professor of the UQ research team, Mark Blaskovich, described CBD’s ability to destroy a broad range of bacteria, specifically those resistant to traditional antibiotic treatments. These antibiotic-resistant variants of bacteria—often referred to as gram-negative bacteria—have evolved in a way that protects them from traditional antibiotics.
Dr. Blaskovich stated, “this is the first time CBD has been shown to kill some types of gram-negative bacteria”. The study didn’t just look at CBD’s ability to fight resistant bacteria, but also ventured to determine its effectiveness against more common but equally troublesome bacteria like MRSA and gonorrhea. In both cases, CBD was shown to be widely effective.
As researchers dig deeper into CBD’s potential as an antibiotic, they have proposed the possibility of CBD simply serving as a booster for traditional antibiotics. Scientists from the University of South Denmark published findings making the case that CBD can boost the effectiveness of antibiotics.
If future research can replicate and verify these findings, CBD could change the way we use traditional antibiotics. According to data published by the PEW Charitable Trusts, there were nearly 270 million prescriptions written for antibiotics in the US (2015). Additionally, over 50% of hospital patients receive antibiotics, and one in three outpatient antibiotic prescriptions are deemed unnecessary.
The problem with so much antibiotic consumption is that they become less effective with repeated use. Bacteria is ever-evolving, and just like our immune systems develop to fight off microbials, bacteria microbes develop to defend against antibiotics.
Based on the University of South Denmark findings, lower dosages of traditional antibiotics were needed to ward off bacteria when used in conjunction with CBD. Although research in this area is still in the early stages, a definitive discovery like this could be groundbreaking in the world of microbiology.
This is understandably a question that comes up when discussing the topic of antibiotics and CBD. However, it is still too early to safely substitute CBD for antibiotics prescribed by a healthcare provider.
As more research is published, scientists will develop a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind CBD and its potential role as an antimicrobial. Until then, it is advised that you adhere to your doctor’s advice regarding antibiotics and CBD use. If you believe that CBD could benefit your health or a prescribed antibiotic treatment, you should have a conversation with your healthcare provider to discuss their thoughts on possibly incorporating CBD into your antibiotic routine.
It is easy to find yourself enthusiastic about CBD’s potential benefits, but it is important to use caution when combining or experimenting with other compounds. It is always advised to have open conversations with your healthcare provider before combining any compounds, CBD and antibiotics included.
A study published in the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found that CBD is typically well-tolerated in most individuals, but there is little data available exploring CBD’s safety when used with other medication.
Our body utilizes specific naturally occurring enzymes called Cytochrome P450 enzymes to metabolize CBD. Our bodies are only capable of producing a certain amount of these enzymes at any given time. Issues can arise when a CBD user is taking a medication that also relies on the CYP450 enzymes.
Over 60% of all prescription drugs on the market utilize the CYP450 enzyme to reach systemic circulation. Fortunately, only a couple of modern antibiotics rely on the CYP450 enzyme for metabolization (clarithromycin and erythromycin). However, this doesn’t mean you’re in the clear to freely use CBD alongside antibiotics.
Inhibiting CYP450 enzymes is not a new scenario nor is it unique to CBD. According to the FDA, there are a multitude of compounds found in everyday items that may affect these enzymes. Scientists have discovered that even grapefruit juice can create a competitive environment for compounds that utilize CYP450 enzymes.
Considering how new the field of CBD is compared to the decades of research we have behind other compounds, it is always a good idea to discuss possible interactions with the healthcare provider who prescribed your antibiotics. In many cases, your doctor will likely tell you that there should be no issues, but it is always best to play it safe by asking a professional before taking that risk.
Although there isn’t enough data available yet to determine if CBD can be used as a substitute for antibiotics, the future looks promising based on the available research. In the event researchers eventually conclude CBD can be used as an antibiotic, how we treat infections, especially those resistant to traditional antibiotics, would be revolutionized.
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