Marijuana compound CBD can help drugs fight off antibiotic-resistant bacteria

New study shows mixing CBD with over-the-counter antibiotic bacitracin could create a powerful shield against bacteria.

ODENSE, Denmark — Although modern medicine keeps advancing, scientists are facing greater threats to public health each year. Among these threats is the growing list of bacteria strains resistant to antibiotics. Looking at new ways of fighting these germs, researchers in Denmark say the answer may be in cannabis. Their study finds cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient in marijuana, boosts the power of antibiotics, killing harmful bacteria.

Janne Kudsk Klitgaard from the University of Southern Denmark says CBD builds the body’s resistance to bacteria. The study’s lead investigator adds that against certain resilient strains, less drugs are necessary when mixed into a powerful combination with CBD.

CBD is well-known for its anti-seizure properties and use as a treatment for pain management drug. The chemical doesn’t contain THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient that makes users high.

CBD helps breaks down harmful bacteria

The study tests their combination on Staphylococcus aureus, a common germ that can cause serious infections. The bacteria can be found on the skin of people — even healthy individuals — and if submerged deeper in the body, the infection can be deadly.

Results show three major effects of mixing CBD with the antibiotic bacitracin. The potent formula makes bacteria unable to divide normally, disrupts key genes in the germs, and makes their cell membranes unstable.

Is too much medication the problem?

Klitgaard and her team say using CBD as a “helper compound” makes it possible to use less medication to kill the same number of bacteria cells, compared to using antibiotics alone. They suggest the overuse of medication is actually leading to the birth of more antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains.

As multiple strains of bacteria become increasingly resistant around the globe, the report argues CBD will help reverse that trend.

“If we combine an antibiotic with a helper compound, that enhances the effect of the antibiotic, we need less antibiotic to achieve the same effect. This may contribute to the development of fewer resistant bacteria,” Klitgaard says in a university release.

CBD isn’t the only chemical found in cannabis that can help battle infections. A recent Canadian study shows the compound cannabigerol is able to cure mice with MRSA infections just as well as the strong antibiotic vancomycin.

The study appears in the journal Scientific Reports.

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