More than 35,000 people a year — 95 every day — die from antibiotic-resistant infections, according to the US Centers for Disease Control
Now, researchers are looking into whether certain cannabinoids may be useful in fighting off certain types of medically-resistant bacteria.
Specifically, scientists are exploring the ways that CBD could be used to disinfect skin from Staphylococcus aureus before surgeries to help reduce the likelihood of post-operative infection.
The initial research, being carried out at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Superbug Solutions, has yet to be published in a peer-review journal.
However, the researchers believe that cannabis may be at least as effective as the antibiotics daptomycin or vancomycin in treating drug-resistant bacteria.
The work indicated that CBD “was remarkably effective at killing a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria, including bacteria that have become resistant to other antibiotics, and did not lose effectiveness after extended treatment,” according to a press release by the researchers.
Dr. Mark Blaskovich, the lead researcher, said that his work is simply building on what’s already known about CBD.
“The combination of inherent antimicrobial activity and potential to reduce damage caused by the inflammatory response to infections is particularly attractive,” Dr. Blaskovich said in regards to the findings.
A single study that has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal should not be taken as a promising development.
Tere are plenty of compounds that show antimicrobial activity in a petri dish without performing the same actions when interacting with the human body.
In fact, Dr. Blaskovich presented another study at a 2019 conference that looked at treating mice with topical applications of CBD to fight skin infections that cut the number of bacteria after 48 hours, but did not clear them entirely.
The results of these studies are encouraging but the researchers admit that they don’t yet understand how CBD fights infection.
“We thought it might work by damaging the outer membrane of the bacteria, to make it leaky,” said Dr. Blaskovich. “It doesn’t seem to do that. It might be a completely new mechanism of action.”
Studies are ongoing and the researchers, along with their pharmaceutical sponsor, Botanix, have their sights on clinical trials.