New Study Finds CBD Has Antibiotic Properties Against Wide Range of Disease-Causing Bacteria

Bacteria have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics. So much so that in 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CBD) stated that a post-antibiotic era is already here.  The CBD reported that 700,000 people around the world die of drug-resistant diseases every year and without a radical change that could increase to 10 million by 2050. [1]

Antimicrobial activity is among many of the reported pharmacological properties of CBD. CBD is one of the over 60 cannabinoids or naturally-occurring chemicals found in industrial hemp, as well as marijuana, that work with body’s endocannabinoid system, which also includes cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, two G protein-coupled receptors that are located in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Cannabinoids interact with these natural receptors to affect pain, anxiety, and inflammation among other effects.

 A study conducted in collaboration between the University of Queensland and Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. has demonstrated the potential of CBD as an antibiotic against a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria, including a variety of drug-resistant strains. [2]

Gram-positive bacteria are classified by the crystal violet color they turn in the staining method. Gram-positive bacteria include staph, strep and the bacterium responsible for diphtheria and anthrax. [3] Gram resistant bacteria are more likely to become resistant to antibiotics due to the presence of an outer membrane, which blocks drugs from penetrating into the cell.

The study found that CBD was effective against a diverse range of over 20 types of Gram-positive bacteria, including multiple strains of the key pathogen MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) or 'golden staph.’ Researchers said that CBD was particularly good at breaking down biofilms, which help bacteria such as MRSA survive antibiotic treatments.[1]

The study also showed that CBD possessed excellent potency against four drug resistant strains of Gram-negative bacteria, including the dangerous pathogens that can cause gonorrhea, meningitis, Legionnaire’s disease and Moraxella catarrhalis, which causes airway infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.[5]

The research shows the potential for using CBD in the development of effective treatments for antibiotic resistant bacteria.


[1] Samuel, Sigal, “The post-antiobiotic era is here,” Vox, November 14 2019.
[2] Blaskovich, M.A.T., Kavanagh, A.M., Elliott, A.G. et al. The antimicrobial potential of cannabidiol. Commun Biol 4, 7 (2021).
[3] Stöppler, Melissa Conrad, MD, “Medical Definitions of Gram-positive,” MedinceNet, March 29, 2021.
[4] The antimicrobial potential of cannabidiol.
[5] The antimicrobial potential of cannabidiol