Early Stage Study Examining CBD as Antibiotic

Sarah Hayes June 27, 2019 37 comments

Promising new research shows that CBD can kill gram positive bacteria, even those that have developed resistance.

Editor’s Note: an earlier version of this article identified E.Coli as a gram positive bacterium. We have since corrected this error. Apologies for any confusion.

We’ve known for years that cannabinoids can help with a host of different medical conditions. Solid research has led cannabidiol (CBD) to be approved for the treatment of seizure in epilepsy and spasticity in multiple sclerosis. But did you know that CBD could also act as an antibiotic?

Global Antibiotic Crisis Looms

The world is facing a healthcare crisis as more and more species of bacteria become resistant to even our ‘last resort’ antibiotics. The World Health Organization has stated that antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development.

A growing list of conditions, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, are already becoming difficult to treat due to this resistance. Medical researchers are actively looking for alternative solutions, such as CBD.

A recent study, out of the University Of Queensland’s Centre for Superbug Solutions, discovered that CBD possesses potent antibacterial activity. Researchers have endorsed it as a “promising new antibiotic.”

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The Queensland research was sponsored by Botanix Pharmaceuticals, a Perth-based pharmaceutical company developing a range of CBD products to treat serious skin disorders. Specifically, Botanix are producing CBD-based medicines to treat skin conditions that involve inflammation and/or infection. These include: atopic dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis.

cannabis gel cap

CBD Effectively Kills Gram Positive Bacteria

University of Queensland scientists tested CBD against a range of bacteria both in vitro (in a test tube) and in vivo (using living subjects; in this case, mice with a thigh infection.)

Broadly, disease causing bacteria come in two types: gram positive and gram negative. The difference between the two comes down to the structure of their cell walls. These structural differences mean that certain antibiotics will only work against one or another type of bacteria, typically, not both.

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In the tests, CBD was effective against gram positive bacteria but not gram negative. Really effective. The Australian scientists found that CBD worked just as well as prescription antibiotics, like vancomycin and daptomycin. The cannabinoid even dispatched antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA. Researchers believe that CBD could be less likely to cause resistance than pharmaceutical antibiotics.

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Furthermore, researchers suggest that CBD could prove especially helpful for specific conditions due to a combination of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory effects. They believe this unique combination of may reduce tissue damage of infections, caused by inflammation.

When Can I Start Using CBD as an Antibiotic?

At this stage, we wouldn’t recommend throwing out your antibiotic prescription and replacing it with CBD. The results of the study are statistically small. They have not yet seen peer-review. These steps are important as preliminary tests in the lab don’t necessarily translate to clinical outcomes in people.

However, CBD has already been approved to treat other conditions and has an excellent safety record. This means that it could be easier to move into human clinical trials.

One of the dangers of antibiotic resistance is that drug companies are sometimes hesitant to invest in new antibiotic drugs. The process of identifying a new compound, figuring out if it could work, and performing the required studies is long and expensive. All in all, new drug approval can takes over a decade.  However, repurposing existing approved drugs can prove faster and cheaper.

cartoon of glove punching open a pill

What the Future Holds for CBD as an Antibiotic

Cannabis enthusiasts may wonder: why do we need the pharmaceutical companies on board? People have been treating their own skin conditions with cannabis for years.

A standardized and licensed product is a lot more attractive to patients and parents because these eliminate dosage confusion. This is even more true for doctors accustomed to working with rigorously tested medicines with specific prescription guidelines. Cannabis medicine is not there now. However, CBD’s promise as an antibiotic means that researchers and drug companies will be eager to follow up on this Queensland research.

Author avatar

Sarah Hayes

Sarah is an American expat living in Spain with her husband and little doggie. She comes from a performing arts and teaching background with a degree from the University of London. For the past 3 years Sarah has worked in and written about the legal cannabis industry both in Spain and the US. She cares about sharing her passion for cannabis, yoga, healthy lifestyles, counterculture and travel trough writing and social media.


  1. Phyllis Girten

    Can this help with blood counts?

  2. virginia s golobek

    can this help sniffness in your bones my hands hurt and my neck

    • Michael Ard

      Yes. I have seizures and 5 chronic pain conditions and I do not take painkillers. PLEASE try Regalabs cbd, it has changed my life. Two other good but cheap brands are CBDistillery and Genesis. DO NOT USE HEMP BOMBS, BLOEM or DIAMOND. they have little to no CBD in their products. Best to you!

    • Duffy

      CBD would most definitely help with stiffness and arthritic type pains, it is a good anti inflammatory

  3. Tim

    MRSA is gram negative…

  4. Chris bradley

    Is that mersa ?

  5. Jaime Lynn

    I believe.. I had a bacterial infection in.my mouth and my dentist was hesitant on fixing me antibiotics and It was painful. I took my 30mg CBS around 6pm an hour later the pain was gone, I woke up at 5am and the swelling was a 2 compared to a 10. I take 30mg daily 69mg when I have panic, anxiety attacks. And it also helps with my ptsd. I have. Ot taken one pharmaceutical for my issues and in 1 wk Infelt a huge difference… #cbd #farmaceuticals #medicinal #lifesaving

  6. Brenda Parker

    My husband uses it for the arthritis in his hands.
    We put a little in our coffee every morning.
    His hands used to hurt him everyday. Now he never complains.
    I have diverticulitis and it has kept my pain at bay.

  7. Mrs. J Ferreira

    My late brother believed so in this stuff and wanted to try and put it on the market legally but then he was killed.

  8. Hannah

    What strain are they testing exactly?

    • Jennifer Grant

      Hi Hannah – the report simply states “Cannadicdiol” or CBD. This would definitely be an isolate rather than a full spectrum strain.

      • Chris G Blaylock

        How so? Was isolate mentioned? If not you dont know for sure so please be careful in your replies.

        • Jennifer Grant

          If you read the study abstract that is the information. CBD. Lab studies really don’t use full spectrum (i.e different strains questions). I am making the assumption that it is isolate as synthetic CBD type would also typically be indicated (WIN-55, for example, is the big one for THC studies). The reason researchers can’t use some full spectrum oil from a high CBD strain is that there is no way to control dose nor variables like different terpene concentrations. So, in the end, you can rest assured that this is an isolate or synthetic CBD.

  9. Blakely jones

    In the Facebook preview this article says mrsa and strep and calls them gram negative.

    May need to edit the metadescription too.

    Came across one of my medical lab science groups and thought I would pass it along.

  10. Joseph Heintz

    I have chronic pain and anxiety cbd saved my life

  11. Liame

    Gaia sore throat lozenges gets rid of strep throat. Cbd never did when i took it.

  12. Jean paeth

    Would CBS help in gram positive ailments such a SIBO….(small intestinal bacteria overgrowth).

  13. Thomas Heisler

    Hey guys I am sold but is there a brand better than another or are they all good, ive seen a few different brands

  14. Keri Hamil

    Hi Thomas, I have been doing my CBD research for a year now and if I can offer you a piece of advice it would be that all CBD’s are NOT created equal !!! Alot of them are CBD “oil “. Our bodies consist of around 60% water and I’m sure you have heard the term …” Water and oil do not mix” . Typically our bodies only absorb 10% of an oil based CBD as opposed to 90% of a “water compatible” CBD. You need LESS of a water compatible CBD when it comes to dosing , which makes it healthier and alot more cost effective. ?

  15. Tina G

    Know someone who was born with very bad feet and is 60yrs old now..and has had 19 surgeries On both feet …. .I’ve never not known her to not be in lots of pain everyday all day!!!! plus working on her feet all day..and whats funny for years she was SO against any kind of marijuana . so someone told her about this stuff really working for pain. And it’s the LOTION, so she tried it ,,,,, and to this day she SWESRS !!!!!!! by this lotion !!!!!! says it’s the best thing she has ever used for PAIN and it’s natural not some darn pills made by man and why put that in your body ????? when GOD Gave us this plant am sure for this reason PAIN AND OTHER things to HELP… and also is good on arthritis.. all I know is I think it all should be legal period…. but when we’re ALL controlled by the big G….. sad!!!!

  16. Would ingesting a 100% water-soluble CBD tincture be healthier and more effective than these CBD oil based products?

  17. Dolores A Medina

    Help with Breast Cancer??

  18. Kimberly Dailey

    I am a MRSA carrier. I’ve had close to 60 staph infections over the last 6 years. Last year was worse than ever. I take what they give me but the Bactrim has me sick all the time. I’ve had every antibiotic out there.Can this oil finally help me with this. If so then I will gladly go and buy it.

    • Jennifer Grant

      Hi Kimberly, still in the research phase. Doctors are not currently prescribing cannabis as an antibiotic.