Getting sick with a bacterial infection is never fun. And when the bacteria doesn’t respond to antibiotics, things can go from uncomfortable to life-threatening very quickly. This is why it’s so exciting to see a new study showing antibiotic potential in a surprising place—with cannabidiol (CBD).
While research is in early phases, researchers say scientists could develop CBD into an incredibly useful tool for fighting off bacterial strains that are already resistant to current antibiotics.
Could CBD be the antibiotic of the future?
Antibiotics are drugs designed to fight off bacterial infections. They have been one of the major pillars of modern medicine, curing diseases that used to regularly kill people before Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin, in 1928. Now millions of people across the U.S. (and more around the world) take antibiotics when they’re sick with a bacterial infection.
But with antibiotics increased use, some of the bacterial strains we’ve been fighting have adapted. While traditional antibiotics still work well for many types of bacterial infections, they no longer affect certain strains of bacteria.
This phenomenon, known as antibiotic resistance, occurs when bacterial strains adapt to the drugs we’ve designed to kill them, so that they’re no longer affected by them. As we develop new antibiotics, strains of bacteria develop new resistances, leaving us in a race to stay ahead of them.
Now, a study from the University of Queensland in Australia is offering new hope in the race against antibiotic resistance and is pointing towards a new antibiotic treatment: CBD.
Researchers on the University of Queensland study looked at CBD as a potential antibiotic by testing it in a lab setting against various strains of bacteria. The authors found promising results, as CBD was able to kill all the strains of bacteria that they tested against it. This included some strains of bacteria that are resistant to traditional antibiotics, such as:
The authors concluded that “cannabidiol possesses surprisingly effective activity as an antibiotic, comparable to widely used antibiotics” and said it could be an attractive antibiotic option, given its “documented anti-inflammatory effects, extensive safety data in humans, and potential for oral delivery.”
In other words, CBD is not only an effective antibiotic, but it can also reduce damage caused by inflammatory responses. Plus, it’s considered extremely safe. This makes it an excellent option for helping to treat bacterial infections.
Even more exciting, the bacteria tested in this experiment didn’t become resistant to CBD even after a 20-day exposure period.
So, CBD may be more challenging for these bacterial strains to adjust to than other antibiotic options. This lack of antibiotic resistance could be a big development for creating more effective antibiotics and treating these challenging infections.
While scientists say more work is needed to develop this into an effective antibiotic for humans, they think that they can develop CBD into a helpful antibiotic in the future.
CBD can be really helpful when you’re sick with a bacterial infection. Perhaps in part because of its antibiotic effects, but also because of how it can reduce inflammation and boost your immune system to help it do its job more effectively.
If you’ve just come down with an illness, taking regular doses of CBD may help with your recovery. CBD tinctures are a great option for this because they’re easy to consume, and don’t involve any inhalation, so won’t add to any respiratory symptoms you may be experiencing.
Still, it’s important not to simply replace your regular antibiotics with CBD just yet. While scientists may develop CBD antibiotic treatments in the future, we currently don’t have well-tested procedures in place for using CBD in this way.
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The studies so far have all been in lab settings, and human testing is needed to hone the finer details of this treatment. Plus, CBD only seems to work for certain kinds of bacterial infections, and you’d need to talk to a doctor to find out what type of infection you have.
If you think you need an antibiotic, don’t wait it out taking CBD alone—go to your doctor for treatment.
And of course, always complete the full course of antibiotics that your doctor prescribes you. Many folks stop using antibiotics halfway through their treatment when their symptoms subside. But doing this actually contributes to antibiotic resistance because it exposes the bacteria to the antibiotic without killing it off completely. This allows the bacteria to adjust and adapt against the antibiotic, making it more difficult to get rid the next time around.
Similarly, you may want to be cautious about combining CBD and traditional antibiotics. While no problems have been reported with this combination, CBD can affect how you metabolize some medications, which can mean getting more or less of the other medication than you were supposed to.
This could make some medications less effective or even cause an overdose. Since there are many different types of antibiotics, some may have negative interactions, while others may be fine.
Check with your doctor about interactions before taking CBD and antibiotics in combination to ensure it will be both safe and effective.
Photo credit: Impact Photography/Shutterstock.com
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