CBD could play role in dealing with resistant microorganisms

By Danielle Masterson contact

- Last updated on GMT

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Getty Images

Related tags: Cbd, Bacteria, Gut microbiome, Antibiotic

As antibiotic resistance reaches dangerously high levels, scientists are researching ways to halt this alarming trend.

Overuse of antibiotics is cited as  the main cause of antibiotic resistance.  The drugs can also wreak havoc on the gut microbiome. 

As Nature Research ​pointed out, "The observation that the gut microbiome can be permanently perturbed even by short-term or low-dose antibiotic treatment, and that this change can have long-term effects on health, cautions against widespread and potentially unnecessary use of antibiotics, particularly in young children and pregnant women, and illustrates that antibiotics should not be considered harmless. However, it also raises hopes for microbiome modulation as a therapeutic treatment for immune conditions."

With new antibiotic development experiencing an innovation gap, more research is focusing on ‘helper compounds’ to offset this resistance. Helper compounds are non-antibiotic compounds that enhance the efficacy of antibiotics.

Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark recently investigated cannabidiol (CBD) as a potential helper compound. 

In the past, CBD has been linked to hindering bacterial growth, but the researchers point out that not much is known regarding antimicrobial effects of cannabinoids. 

Study details 

Researchers tested  the antimicrobial effect of CBD against the Gram-positive bacteria methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus​ (MRSA), a type of bacteria notorious for being resistant to many different antibiotics. CBD was also tested against Enterococcus faecalis, Listeria monocytogenes, ​and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis​ (MRSE). 

From there, they tested the effects of CBD and BAC combined against different Gram-positive bacteria, which suggested that CBD could potentiate the antimicrobial effects of the antibiotic.

Dynamic duo

The research team found that when the antibiotic bacitracin (BAC) is combined with CBD, the duo can fight off antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  

The CBD and BAC combination tested against S. aureus was found to cause morphological changes in the bacterial cells that impaired cell division, causing the bacteria to not be able to divide normally. 

These effects were not exhibited when testing with either CBD or BAC by themselves. 

“Based on these observations, the combination of CBD and BAC is suggested to be a putative novel treatment in clinical settings for treatment of infections with antibiotic-resistant Gram-positive bacteria,”​ the researchers stated. 

The authors noted that more research is needed to better understand the mechanisms of action of combined CBD and BAC treatment on bacteria, which could contribute to the development of fewer resistant bacteria. 

Source: Scientific Reports 

2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-60952-0

“Cannabidiol is an effective helper compound in combination with bacitracin to kill Gram-positive bacteria”

Authors: C. Søndergaard et al.

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