New study: cannabis helps fight resistant bacteria

Cannabidiol is an effective auxiliary compound in combination with bacitracin to kill Gram-positive bacteria

Bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. By combining antibiotics with the compound in cannabis, cannabidiol, researchers have found a way to enhance the antibiotic effect. Today, a research team from the University of Southern Denmark has publié a scientific study proving the effect of CBD.

Janne Kudsk Klitgaard is a senior researcher and corresponding author. The first author is Claes Søndergaard Wassmann. The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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

Clones of bacteria spread around the world

In the study, CBD was used to enhance the effect of the antibiotic bacitracin against Staphylococcus aureus bacteria; a major human pathogen that frequently causes illnesses acquired in the community and in hospitals.

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Multidrug resistant clones of this pathogen have spread worldwide. In some countries, treating bacterial infections with these resistant bacteria is difficult, and the problem is expected to be a growing 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 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.

Anti-resistance must be stopped

According to researchers, overuse of antibiotics is the main cause of antibiotic resistance.

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 may contribute to the development of less resistant bacteria, explains Janne Kudsk Klitgaard.

In another study unaffiliated, led by Eric D. Brown, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University in Canada, researchers found that another compound in cannabis, CBG, cured mice of MRSA infections as effectively as vancomycin , a drug widely considered to be the last line of defense against drug-resistant microbes. This study is currently under review in the journal ACS Infectious Diseases.

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