CBD helps fight resistant bacteria

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  • A combination of CBD and antibiotics can reduce the use of the latter and therefore, reduce the risk of the emergence of resistant bacteria.

    A combination of CBD and antibiotics can reduce the use of the latter and therefore, reduce the risk of the emergence of resistant bacteria.

    Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming, antibiotics have saved millions of lives from deadly infections around the world. However, over time bacteria have developed mechanisms to escape the effects of antibiotics, they have become resistant.

    With fewer antibiotics available to treat resistant bacterial infections, the possibility of entering a pre-antibiotic era looms on the horizon. Alternative strategies are under study and ancillary compounds are drawing attention. Auxiliary compounds are non-antibiotic compounds with the ability to improve the effectiveness of antibiotics.

    CBD to boost antibiotics

    One such auxiliary compound has been suspected to be cannabidiol (CBD); a cannabinoid from the cannabis plant. Now, a research team from the University of Southern Denmark has published a scientific study proving the effect of CBD. Janne Kudsk Klitgaard is Principal Investigator and Corresponding Author. The first author is doctoral student Claes Søndergaard Wassmann. The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

    When we combined CBD and antibiotics, we saw a more potent effect than when treated with antibiotics alone. So, to kill a number of bacteria, we needed fewer antibiotics, they say.

    Bacteria clones are spreading around the world

    In the study, CBD was used to enhance the effect of the antibiotic bacitracin against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus; a major human pathogen that frequently causes illnesses acquired in the community and in hospitals. Multidrug resistant clones of this pathogen have spread throughout the world. In some countries, treating bacterial infections with these resistant bacteria is difficult, and the problem is expected to become an increasingly important problem in the future.

    According to the researchers, the combination of CBD and antibiotics could be a new treatment for infections with bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

    How do bacteria die?

    Three things happened with the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, when the researchers treated them with the combination of CBD in their study:

    • The bacteria could no longer divide normally.
    • The expression of some key genes (cell division and autolysis genes) in bacteria has been reduced.
    • The bacterial membrane has become unstable.

    The anti-resistance must be stopped

    The main cause of antibiotic resistance is overuse of antibiotics, researchers say. If we combine an antibiotic with an auxiliary compound, which enhances the effect of the antibiotic, we need less antibiotic to achieve the same effect. This could contribute to the development of less resistant bacteria, says Janne Kudsk Klitgaard.

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