Can CBD boost the effectiveness of antibiotics?

With the popularity of CBD continuously growing, the number of research trials being carried out on the cannabinoid has increased with it. One recent study has found that CBD has been proven to boost the effectiveness of antibiotics.

One global medical concern that is a continuous threat is the rising number of cases involving bacterial resistance to antibiotics. And in a recent CBD study carried out by the University of Westminster, the researchers found that cannabidiol could increase the effectiveness of antibiotic treatments, particularly E.Coli. It was found that over-the-counter CBD oil was able to prevent E.Coli from resisting medications, by stopping the bacteria from making outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) and preventing them from multiplying. This then boosted the effects of antibiotics in killing harmful cells and at a faster rate.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is when bacterias adapt and become drug-resistant when patients continue to take incorrect doses of antibiotics or if they are prescribed unnecessarily. Antimicrobial resistance has been exasperated due to the fact that no new antibiotics have been produced in many years. Approximately 700,000 people die every year around the world, due to drug-resistant infections, such as tuberculosis (TB), HIV and malaria. This number is predicted to increase to 10 million people every year by 2050.

There had been a belief that CBD had anti-bacterial properties, however, it was not established how this worked. Although now scientists believe that by inhibiting the production of OMVs, it breaks down the bacteria’s defence and allows the body to fight it off, nonetheless trials on humans are needed to investigate these findings further.

Dr Sigrun Lange, a lecturer in molecular pathology, led the study that entailed growing E.Coli in a lab, where the bacteria was then treated with antibiotics. The researchers then applied one micromolar of cannabidiol to the bacteria and then assessed what effects occurred after one hour, they then repeated this with a higher does of five micromoles of CBD oil. In the study, five antibiotics were used to treat bacterial infections, these were erythromycin, vancomycin, rifampicin, kanamycin and colistin. It was found that the lower doses of CBD oil reduced the production of OMVs by approximately 73%, while the higher dose reduced the production by approximately 54%. Dr Lange stated that ‘We have now demonstrated that cannabis oil is very effective at increasing antibiotic effects through changes in membrane vesicle composition and release in bacteria.’

A lot more research is needed to decisively conclude that CBD should and could be used to help fight antibiotic resistance, and improve antibiotic treatments. But this study has highlighted further potentials of CBD, and the next steps will be to set up clinical trials to see the benefits on human patients.