Find out if CBD oil could be as effective at fighting bacterial infections as traditional antibiotics. Learn about CBD oil antibacterial dosage, research, and benefits. CBD oil has been shown to kill treatment-resistant bacteria. Can it replace or bolster antibiotics? This article answers whether you can take antibiotics alongside CBD products. The researchers tested the CBD against some strains of staphylococcus, which cause skin infections, and streptococcus, which cause strep throat.
Bacterial Infections and CBD Oil: An Alternative to Antibiotics?
CBD oil is gaining ground as an effective treatment for a number of common ailments. Research continues into better understanding all the ways CBD oil can potentially benefit human health. One of the most significant developments in the use of CBD oil as a medicinal supplement has been in the area of bacterial infections.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , “ antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, world security, and development… ” Antibiotic resistance is far from being a modern-day issue as bacteria have been building resistance to treatment methods even before the discovery of penicillin in 1928.
Some argue the widespread use of antibiotics has sped up bacterias’ ability to resist manmade medications, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reporting that approximately two million Americans per year are now being infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Luckily, CBD oil may be able to help.
Benefits of Taking CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections
Antibiotics indiscriminately attack both good and bad bacteria in your body, and can essentially wipe the slate clean. The good bacteria reside mostly in your gut, aiding in digestion—and possibly more. Recently, studies have been finding links between the presence of good gut bacteria and a person’s mood , suggesting the balance of these good bacteria could affect other parts and functions of your body.
Because good bacteria contribute to overall health, and because harmful, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are steadily on the rise, it’s important to consider whether you really need to take antibiotics when you’re feeling sick, or if you should allow your immune system to fight off the invaders on its own—or with the help of CBD oil.
If you have a mild to moderate bacterial infection that doesn’t warrant a course of antibiotics, or if you have a resistant strain of bacteria in your system, it may be worth considering CBD oil.
CBD oil shows promise as an effective bacteria fighter and is covered in ‘Effectiveness of CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections’ in the section below. It also won’t wipe out your good bacteria or produce some of the side effects (nausea, vomiting, stomach pain) associated with common antibiotics.
Effectiveness of CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections
CBD has been found to possess antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties . While the impact of CBD oil on inflammation has been an area of intense research, the last significant study on its use against bacteria was conducted in 2008. Though a bit older, this groundbreaking study helps point to the legitimacy of using CBD oil as an alternative to antibiotics.
CBD Oil as an Antimicrobial
A joint study by Italian and English researchers investigated the effect of various cannabinoids , including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), on pathogenic bacteria. The cannabinoids were tested against 6 strains of the antibiotic-resistant “superbug” MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Amazingly, all 5 of the major cannabinoids showed “potent activity” against the bacterium. In fact, the results showed that “activity was exceptional against some of these strains, in particular, the multidrug-resistant (MDR) SA-1199B” and also “against EMRSA-15 and EMRSA-16, the major epidemic methicillin-resistant S. aureus strains occurring in U.K. hospitals.”
The study concluded that there were incredibly promising benefits of the use of cannabinoids to treat resistant bacteria, though it could not be determined exactly how the cannabinoids carried out this function.
A more recent 2014 study from the National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine in Taiwan investigated the use of CB2 receptor agonists (like CBD) in rats artificially infected with bacterial peritonitis. It found that using CBD decreased bacterial overgrowth and adhesion.
Because these findings are so promising, particularly with respect to cannabinoids’ effects on MRSA, it’s likely that more research will be done on CBD oil’s antibiotic qualities. This, as CBD and cannabis in general become more widely accepted on a legal level, which may mean that it could be just a short matter of time before CBD oil joins the ranks of revolutionary bacteria busters like penicillin.
CBD Oil as an Anti-Inflammatory
Inflammation plays a key role in helping the body fight a bacterial infection, but if left unchecked, it can also be problematic. Chronic inflammation can cause pain and stiffness in many areas of the body, and is also responsible for a host of internal conditions. Uncontrolled bacterial inflammation promotes apoptosis (cell death) and the generation of harmful free radicals, which has been linked to conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
CBD may reduce inflammation that accompanies a bacterial infection by working both directly and indirectly on endocannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system . These receptors are located throughout the body and central nervous system, with the CB2 cannabinoid receptor thought to play a significant role in the body’s regulation of inflammation. Cannabidiol (CBD) acts on CB2 receptors in a way that’s thought to be a major driving factor behind CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory qualities.
CBD has also been shown to increase levels of the brain neurotransmitter adenosine, which stimulates adenosine receptors. These receptors play a significant role in the reduction of cell inflammation , and when activated, could potentially help reduce effects or symptoms of an inflammatory response to a bacterial infection.
How to Take CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections
Before you start taking CBD oil, it is best to talk to your doctor. While generally considered safe with no significant side effects, CBD oil can interact with some medications, including certain antibiotics . The combination of CBD oil and antibiotics is not necessarily a dangerous one, but it is still important to understand how they function together and how it may impact your body.
By speaking with your doctor first, you can avoid any unwanted effects and establish a safe course of action going forward.
Once you have your physician’s approval to try using CBD oil to treat a bacterial infection, you’ll need to decide on a CBD delivery format. CBD oil is available to purchase in a large range of product types, and what you choose will ultimately come down to your personal preference and the types of symptoms you have.
For example, if a bacterial infection is affecting your skin, a CBD topical (lotion, cream, salve) will be the most direct way of addressing the issue. You can directly target the site of infection and let the CBD go to work for hours.
If the infection is wider spread, a more general delivery method like CBD oil drops or capsules may be a better choice. There is no shortage of options on the market, so do not be afraid to experiment in order to find what works best for you.
Dosage of CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections
Unfortunately, there is no universal dose of CBD oil for bacterial infections. Because CBD’s effects can depend on a number of factors like age, weight, and metabolism speed, it can be hard to come up with a single amount that works for everyone.
As a starting point, it is best to begin with the lowest recommended dosage on the information sheet included with a CBD oil product. You can also speak to a naturopathic doctor for a dosage recommendation that is specific to your condition and needs.
If you’re looking for further, more general guidance, we at CBD Oil Review have analyzed hundreds of products and have come up with a standard serving suggestion:
The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25 mg of CBD, taken twice daily.
If you are not getting results from this amount, we recommend increasing the serving amount by 25 mg every 3 to 4 weeks until you attain relief.
For more information on dosages and some useful tips for getting it right, check out our guide here .
The Best CBD Oil for Bacterial Infections
The best CBD oil for bacterial infections will be the one that works best for you. While that may seem like a frustrating non-answer, there are some things to consider that will help narrow down your options.
First, do not be afraid to try a few different brands and products. CBD oil will not cause you to become “high” or “intoxicated,” nor cause serious side effects , so experimenting with different options presents very little risk to your mental and physical health.
You should also understand the laws in your state around cannabis and CBD oil . While the vast majority of CBD oil products on the market will follow the federal guidelines laid out in the 2018 Farm Bill , namely that CBD oil should contain 0.3% THC or less, some products may contain more. If you live in a state with legal access to recreational and medicinal cannabis, this will be less of a concern. But for states with more restrictive access, you’ll want to check and verify the THC content before making a purchase.
Understanding the law will help you narrow things down between a full-spectrum CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil, or CBD oil isolate. A full-spectrum CBD oil is one that contains all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids found in the whole hemp plant, including the mind-altering compound THC. A broad-spectrum CBD oil contains everything a full-spectrum product contains except THC. A CBD oil isolate is just CBD without any of the other compounds of the hemp plant.
Most full-spectrum products will be in line with federal laws, meaning they should not contain THC in amounts that will make you feel “high.” However, there will always be outliers, which is why doing your research is important.
While researching CBD products to buy, look for the following to ensure you’re getting the best, high-quality CBD oil for bacterial infections:
- Ingredients . Typically, the best CBD oils will have the fewest ingredients. You will want a CBD oil that contains CBD, a carrier oil like MCT oil or hemp seed oil, and other natural ingredients. Avoid anything that contains chemicals or artificial additives.
- Product sourcing . Look for brands that source products from organically grown hemp, which is more agriculturally sustainable and free of harmful pesticides and herbicides.
- Certificates of Analysis (CoA) . Most reputable brands will send out their CBD products for independent lab testing to ensure quality and potency. The lab results from these tests are then posted in a Certificate of Analysis. This analysis will tell you what hemp compounds (cannabinoids, terpenes, etc.) are in the CBD product as well as any harmful heavy metals or chemicals that may remain after the extraction process . This is also where you can verify the accuracy of the CBD amount claimed on the packaging, as well as check the THC content.
While research on the uses of CBD oil for bacterial infections is ongoing, it appears that it could present an effective and beneficial alternative or supplement to traditional antibiotics.
If you found this topic interesting, you may also enjoy:
- (2020) Antibiotic resistance – World Health Organization https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance
- (2021) Biggest Threats and Data – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/biggest-threats.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fdrugresistance%2Fbiggest_threats.html
- Elizabeth Pennisi (2019) Evidence mounts that gut bacteria can influence mood, prevent depression – American Association for the Advancement of Science https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/evidence-mounts-gut-bacteria-can-influence-mood-prevent-depression
- Giovanni Appendino et al. (2008) Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure−Activity Study – The American Chemical Society and American Society of Pharmacognosy https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/np8002673
- Ying-Ying Yang et al. (2014) Long-term cannabinoid type 2 receptor agonist therapy decreases bacterial translocation in rats with cirrhosis and ascites – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24953022/
- Fehmida Bibi et al. Link between chronic bacterial inflammation and Alzheimer disease – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25230225/
- A Thomas et al. (2007) Cannabidiol displays unexpectedly high potency as an antagonist of CB1 and CB2 receptor agonists in vitro – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17245363/
- Clementino Ibeas Bih et al. (2015) Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Neurological Disorders – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604182/
- 2018 Farm Bill – U.S. Department of Agriculture https://www.farmers.gov/working-with-us/farm-bill
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CBD Oil and Antibiotics: Is It More Effective to Take Them Together?
As medical researchers are constantly discovering new health benefits of CBD, the compound has become one of the most exciting therapeutic products of this century. However, 100 years before CBD came on everyone’s tongues, antibiotics gave medicine a completely new face — becoming a staple of healthcare.
What happens when you take these two compounds together?
Are they a perfect match or a dreadful combo?
People supplement CBD for many reasons, whether it’s to support their overall well-being or tackle specific health conditions, such as sleep disorders, mood swings, muscle pain, inflammation, and more.
So, when your doctor prescribes you antibiotics, it’s understandable that you’ll ask them if you can take them together with CBD oil.
Understanding the interactions between CBD and pharmaceutical substances will help you make a well-thought-out decision on how to best run your treatment.
Of course, consulting a doctor is always better if you want to get professional advice, so treat this article only as an educational piece.
What Are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are antibacterial medications that are prescribed to millions of people across the world every year. They are recommended as a treatment for a wide range of bacterial infections. Doctors use them to either treat or prevent further bacterial infections from being triggered.
Even in the modern world, antibiotics are essential for saving us from often lethal bacteria that would otherwise cause the death of many people back before antibiotics were invented in 1928.
Studies on antibiotics and their mechanisms indicate that certain chemical compounds can interfere with their efficacy, and as such, you should always consult your doctor before taking antibiotics alongside any other medicines or supplements.
CBD As Antibiotic: What Studies Say
There’s evidence that CBD possesses antimicrobial properties, which makes it a potentially useful tool for fighting infection.
Although the mechanism behind these effects isn’t well understood yet, studies have confirmed that CBD provides similar protection to antibiotics — especially against treatment-resistant bacteria that have become resistant to conventional methods.
One study analyzed how different cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, interact with pathogenic bacteria.
The authors tested each cannabinoid against six strains of the antibiotic-resistant super bacteria, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). All cannabinoids showed increased activity against all strains of the MRSA bacteria.
The study concluded that CBD could be effective at fighting one of the most treatment-resistant bacteria in the field of medicine.
Another study from the researchers at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience found that CBD could kill numerous strains of bacteria in test-tube experiments — including VRSA, VISA, MRSA, and other treatment-resistant strains.
Interestingly, these strains developed resistance to all FDA-approved antibiotics over the years, but not to CBD.
CBD was able to outmaneuver the whole process of superbug growth despite exposing the strains to it for 20 days.
The research team found that CBD effectively disrupted biofilms, a microscopic mass of bacteria, mucopolysaccharides, and waste products that act as a physical barrier preventing antibiotics from inhibiting the bacteria growth — resulting in difficult-to-treat infections.
It seems that CBD uses a unique mechanism that works against bacteria resistant to other antibiotics.
A 2019 study from the UK has provided a deeper insight into that mechanism.
The said study examined the antibacterial properties of CBD on Escherichia Coli bacteria (E. coli) — specifically on its membrane vesicles, which the bacteria use for growth and communication.
The authors learned that CBD might help increase antibiotic activity and reduce the resistance of bacteria when used in tailored co-application.
Can You Take CBD and Antibiotics Together?
As mentioned above, CBD can enhance the activity of antibiotics, translating into higher efficacy against treatment-resistant bacteria. But, considering that CBD meddles with the system of enzymes that is responsible for metabolizing pharmaceuticals (including antibiotics), the answer requires more careful analysis.
How CBD Affects Drug Metabolism
Let’s shed some light on how CBD interacts with antibiotics. This comes down to understanding how CBD affects our body’s Cytochrome P-450 System, which processes potentially dangerous toxins.
Many of us aren’t aware of this system, but it’s a paramount component of the human body. If we lacked CYP450, we could be exposed to an array of toxic chemicals on a daily basis.
Over 60% of the drugs we consume are metabolized by CYP450, which is where things get pretty hazy.
This unique system is located in the liver and contains 50 enzymes that work to remove potentially dangerous compounds. Depending on the type of the drug and its dosage, CYP450 requires a different period of time to break down these substances. Certain drugs have a direct impact on the speed of the system’s metabolism.
CBD & Cytochrome P450 System
CBD is actually a potent inhibitor of CYP450. In other words, it can change the way the system metabolizes certain drugs that it encounters — including antibiotics.
When it comes to taking CBD and antibiotics together, the interaction between these two substances could result in taking less or more antibiotics than required — carrying the risk of overdose.
Fortunately, such hardcore interactions aren’t common. In fact, no study has yet found that regular doses of CBD compromise the liver’s ability to metabolize antibiotics. If anything, as the above studies, indicates, CBD could strengthen the effects of antibiotics.
However, this can only happen when you apply the right dose of both compounds.
Here’s where a consultation with a holistic doctor experienced in cannabis use may help.
When to Consult a Doctor
If you approach CBD and antibiotics irresponsibly, it could potentially lead to negative side effects. Since CBD affects CYP450’s ability to metabolize medications — either speeding it up or slowing it down — you could end up with higher doses of the drug in your system than what is considered safe.
You can easily minimize that risk by consulting your doctor first. Your doctor should be able to analyze your current dose of CBD and antibiotics — and adjust them so that they can benefit from one another without causing negative interactions.
This should be the first thing that you do before taking CBD with any medication.
Benefits of Taking CBD Oil with Antibiotics
CBD oil and antibiotics both fight infection, but they use different mechanisms to achieve their goals.
While antibiotics vary in their method of targeting bacteria, they all have one general function — wiping out the elements of bacterial cells that don’t occur in human cells. This is an incredibly complex way of tackling infection; it destroys all bacteria in the body, including the good bacteria that help your gut healthy. Certain bacteria can also become resistant to antibiotics over time.
CBD has demonstrated antimicrobial properties, showing itself as another useful tool for fighting infection. While we still need a better understanding of how CBD oil does it, studies have concluded that CBD is particularly effective against treatment-resistant bacteria.
At the same time, CBD can support the growth of healthy bacteria (probiotics), improving your digestive health, and thus can help with problems such as IBS.
In the aforementioned study on the antimicrobial effects of CBD and THC, each cannabinoid was highlighted as “showing potent activity” against the bacterium, with authors noting that “activity was exceptional against some of these strains, in particular, the multidrug-resistant (MDR) SA-1199B and also against EMRSA-15 and EMRSA-16, the major epidemic methicillin-resistant S. Aureus strains occurring in U.K. hospitals.”
In simple words, CBD was proven to be effective at killing one of the most treatment-resistant strains of bacteria medicine has seen.
If you combine CBD oil and antibiotics in the right dosages, you can achieve a potent, two-pronged approach to tackling bacteria-driven diseases. Or, if your doctor deems it right, they can recommend a highly concentrated form of CBD as a monotherapy.
The Side Effects of Using CBD Oil with Antibiotics
CBD oil may inhibit your liver’s ability to metabolize certain antibiotics, especially clarithromycin (Biaxin) and erythromycin. It’s important to keep in mind that these two antibiotics can be prescribed on their own or as a combination of antibiotics. That’s why it’s important to read product labels and talk to your doctor.
Since CBD may slow down the breakdown of these antibiotics, higher concentrations can circulate in the bloodstream — causing negative side effects.
The negative reactions to taking CBD oil and antibiotics as clarithromycin include:
- Mood swings
- Stomach pain
Does CBD Interact with All Antibiotics?
While any medication can interact with CBD, not every product within that category will — and the same goes for antibiotics. Not every antibiotic will be impacted by CBD, and sometimes, it can even enhance the antibiotic’s effects.
There’s one good way to find out if CBD can cause negative interactions with your medication.
How to Tell If CBD Will Interact With Your Medication
Most doctors will tell you not to eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice when taking certain medications.
That’s because grapefruit juice interacts with CYP450 in a similar way to CBD.
Therefore, if your medication has a grapefruit warning on it — or your doctor suggests that you abstain from eating grapefruit for the time of your treatment — you probably should consult your purchase of CBD oil with a medical professional who is experienced in using cannabis.
Key Takeaways On CBD Oil and Antibiotics
Taking CBD oil and antibiotics together can have a positive effect on the efficacy of the latter — that’s especially good news for people with infections.
However, it’s essential to note that scientists still don’t know what exactly is responsible for the mechanism behind CBD’s high efficacy.
All the research was conducted in a lab, using test tubes and bacteria cultures. More clinical human trials are needed to confirm the preliminary findings.
To date, no study has recommended combining CBD with antibiotics — nor there has been a paper that would definitely discourage from doing so.
Before taking CBD oil to treat or prevent infection, do your research and consult your doctor to establish the right CBD dosage and routine so that you avoid the negative interactions with your antibiotic.
Did you take CBD and antibiotics together? Was it good or did you experience any side effects? Share your stories in the comments below!
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Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
CBD as a Superbug Antibiotic?
June 24, 2019 — Cannabidiol, or CBD, already being researched and used for anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy and pain, may be the next superbug fighter for resistant infections, a new study suggests.
The researchers tested CBD against a wide variety of bacteria, ”including bacteria that have become resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics,” says Mark Blaskovich, PhD, senior research officer at the Centre for Superbug Solutions at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland in Australia.
The development is important, as antibiotic resistance is reaching dangerously high levels, according to the World Health Organization.
What the Research Shows
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound taken from cannabis and hemp; it does not produce the high that regular marijuana does. To date, the FDA has only approved CBD for treating rare and severe forms of seizure, although it is promoted for many other health benefits.
Blaskovich presented the research Sunday at the American Society for Microbiology annual meeting. The research includes work in test tubes and animal models. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
“The first thing we looked at is CBD’s ability to kill bacteria,” he says. “In every case, CBD had a very similar potency to that of common antibiotics.”
The researchers tested the CBD against some strains of staphylococcus, which cause skin infections, and streptococcus, which cause strep throat.
They compared how effective CBD was compared to common antibiotics, such as vancomycin and daptomycin. “We looked at how quickly the CBD killed the bacteria. It’s quite fast, within 3 hours, which is pretty good. Vancomycin (Vancocin) kills over 6 to 8 hours.”
The CBD also disrupted the biofilm, the layer of ”goop” around bacteria that makes it more difficult for the antibiotic to penetrate and kill.
Finally, the lab studies showed that “CBD is much less likely to cause resistance than the existing antibiotics,” Blaskovich says.
The CBD ”is selective for the type of bacteria,” he says.
He found it effective against gram-positive bacteria but not gram-negative. Gram-positive bacteria cause serious skin infections and pneumonia, among other conditions. Gram-negative bacteria include salmonella (found in undercooked foods) and E. coli (the cause of urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and other ailments), among other bacteria.
In another study, also presented at the meeting, the researchers tested topical CBD to treat a skin infection on mice. It cut the number of bacteria after 48 hours, Blaskovich says, although it did not clear the infection. That research is ongoing.
How It Might Work, Caveats
The researchers can’t say exactly how the CBD may prove to be a superbug infection fighter. “We thought it might work by damaging the outer membrane of the bacteria, to make it leaky,” Blaskovich says. “It doesn’t seem to do that. It might be a completely new mechanism of action.”
He says the research results are promising but in early stages. He also warns people that it’s much too early to self-treat infections with CBD.
The study was funded by Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., which is researching uses of CBD for skin conditions, and the Australian government. Blaskovich is a consultant for Botanix.
Brandon Novy, a microbiology researcher at Reed College in Portland, OR, calls the study findings ”very promising,” since the results show the bacteria were not able to form resistance to the CBD, and since the bacteria were not able to form a biofilm.
Both findings are important. “The biofilm is an important part of the whole infection process,” he says. “It helps the bacteria attach [to whatever surface or host] and survive.”
At the same meeting, Novy presented a preliminary study, finding that CBD also looks promising to fight some gram-negative infections.
“It is an important study that deserves to be followed up on,” says Amesh Adalja, MD, an infectious disease doctor and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
He was not involved in the new study. But he cautions that ”it is important to keep it all in context. I think it is a good thing that people are looking at the use of CBD for infectious uses in a systematic way.”
But the work so far is only in test tubes and animals. Many question remain, such as looking at whether it is toxic, doses, and the best way to deliver the CBD, Adalja says. He, too, cautions against self-treating with CBD for infections.
Amesh Adalja, MD, infectious disease specialist and senior scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
American Society for Microbiology annual meeting, June 23, 2019, San Francisco.
Mark Blaskovich, PhD, senior research officer, Centre for Superbug Solutions, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Australia.