CBD and its Antibiotic Properties: Current Research

Cannabis laboratory

Growing concern about antibiotic resistance has made the search for new antimicrobial agents more critical than ever. Recent research has indicated that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid from the cannabis plant, may have antimicrobial properties.

Today on the Cannactiva blog we delve into the potential of CBD as an antibiotic, examining its mechanisms of action, its efficacy against bacterial strains and its possible role in future antimicrobial therapies.

What is an antibiotic?

Antibiotics are drugs designed to treat or prevent infections caused by bacteria. They act by killing or stopping the growth of bacteria, however, bacteria have the ability to evolve and develop resistance to these drugs.

Is CBD an antibiotic?

Recent research indicates that CBD possesses antimicrobial properties, which, while not making it an antibiotic as such, may enhance the antibacterial capacity of some antibiotics (1).

Mechanism of antimicrobial action of CBD

The exact mechanism by which cannabidiol exerts an antibiotic effect is not fully understood and is still under study. Preliminary research suggests that CBD alters the outer cell membranes of certain bacteria, resulting in bacterial cell death (2).

Another hypothesis is that cannabidiol interferes with bacterial biofilm (3). Biofilms are protective layers produced by bacteria that contribute significantly to their resistance against traditional antibiotics. The interference of CBD with the formation of this biofilm indicates its potential to combat resistant bacterial strains.

What does it mean that CBD has antibiotic properties?

CBD is not an antibiotic, but it has characteristics that can decrease bacterial growth. Therefore, it has the ability to enhance the antimicrobial effect of some antibiotics.

It should be noted that the studies that have suggested the antibiotic properties of CBD have been carried out in bacterial cultures and conclusive results, especially in clinical settings, have not yet been published.

Drawing of microbes
The antibiotic properties of CBD suggest that it could be used together with other drugs with the same action. However, no solid conclusions can yet be drawn because there is a lack of research in this field.

What kind of CBD products can be antibiotics?

It is important to keep in mind that the idea of CBD as an antibiotic is still under investigation. Although the evidence points to optimistic results, only with time and research will we find more accurate answers.

As research progresses, the medical community will gain a clearer understanding of CBD’s position in the antibiotic arena.

There is a wide variety of CBD products, from CBD oils to CBD edibles, but there is no scientific evidence that these products help treat bacterial infections in humans.

However, some research on CBD oil has suggested that its antibacterial effects may help against skin infections, as does another cannabinoid found in cannabis, cannabigerol (CBG) (4).

Has pure CBD demonstrated antibiotic properties?

It is essential to differentiate between whole cannabis plant extracts and isolated CBD. For the most part, studies have demonstrated the antibiotic properties of pure CBD, extracted from the cannabis plant.

Unfortunately, there are no studies on full-spectrum CBD extract yet, the research is in its infancy.

Can CBD replace antibiotics?

CBD offers a novel mode of action against bacteria, but should not be considered a direct substitute. More research is needed to understand its full potential and limitations.

In what cases has CBD proven to be an effective antibiotic?

To date, in vitro studies have provided information on the potential of CBD as an antimicrobial agent. However, comprehensive human clinical trials are scarce. Through cell culture, it has been shown that CBD:

CBD’s potential as a new antibiotic lies in its unique mechanism of action, which could reduce the likelihood of bacteria developing resistance.

In addition, its anti-inflammatory properties could be beneficial in the treatment of bacterial infections that induce inflammation.

  • Reduces bacterial growth of Salmonella typhimurium and Salmonella newington (2).
  • It decreases the release of vesicles crucial for the survival of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus (1).
  • It decreases the formation of the biofilm of Candida albicans and Streptococcus mutans, the latter being partially responsible for dental caries (3, 5). The biofilm is central to the ability of these microorganisms to produce disease.

CBD dosage as an antibiotic

Dosages in the above studies vary, but the concentrations used often exceed those commonly found in over-the-counter CBD products, as CBD is applied to bacterial cultures under in vitro conditions.

Limitations and concerns with CBD as an antibiotic

The antimicrobial potential of CBD appears promising, but it is vital to understand its limitations. CBD bioavailability, optimal dosage for antibacterial activity and potential side effects, especially during long-term use, remain areas of concern and active research.

Other antibiotic cannabinoids

In addition to CBD, other cannabinoids such as cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) have shown antimicrobial properties (6). Although unproven, the synergy between several cannabinoids, called the“entourage effect“, could perhaps improve the antimicrobial efficacy of antibiotic treatments.

CBD in other infections

CBD has been studied for its potential benefits in HIV/AIDS, primarily for symptom control, rather than for its antimicrobial properties.

While some studies examine the potential of CBD to reduce severe inflammatory responses in patients with COVID-19, it is not being directly investigated for its antiviral properties against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


CBD has brought some hope to the growing antibiotic resistance crisis. Preliminary data paint a promising picture, but there is still a long road of painstaking research. Hopefully, in the coming years, with the relevant scientific evidence, CBD could be a new line of defense against disease-causing bacteria.

Note: This is an informational article and is not intended to prevent, diagnose or treat any disease. Its contents may complement, but should never replace, any diagnosis or treatment of any disease or symptom. Cannactiva products are not medicines and are intended for external use. The data shown reflect the scientific evidence up to the date of publication, please note that new advances may emerge since then. Therefore, consult your doctor before using CBD.

  1. Kosgodage, U. S., Matewele, P., Awamaria, B., Kraev, I., Warde, P., Mastroianni, G., Nunn, A. V., Guy, G. W., Bell, J. D., Inal, J. M., & Lange, S. (2019). Cannabidiol Is a Novel Modulator of Bacterial Membrane Vesicles. Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology, 9, 324. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2019.00324
  2. Gildea, L., Ayariga, J. A., Ajayi, O. S., Xu, J., Villafane, R., & Samuel-Foo, M. (2022). Cannabis sativa CBD Extract Shows Promising Antibacterial Activity against Salmonella typhimurium and S. newington. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 27(9), 2669. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27092669
  3. Feldman, M., Sionov, R. V., Mechoulam, R., & Steinberg, D. (2021). Anti-Biofilm Activity of Cannabidiol against Candida albicans. Microorganisms, 9(2), 441. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9020441
  4. Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, A., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020). Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 13, 927-942. https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S286411
  5. Barak, T., Sharon, E., Steinberg, D., Feldman, M., Sionov, R. V., & Shalish, M. (2022). Anti-Bacterial Effect of Cannabidiol against the Cariogenic Streptococcus mutans Bacterium: An In Vitro Study. International journal of molecular sciences, 23(24), 15878. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms232415878
  6. Farha, M. A., El-Halfawy, O. M., Gale, R. T., MacNair, C. R., Carfrae, L. A., Zhang, X., Jentsch, N. G., Magolan, J., & Brown, E. D. (2020). Uncovering the Hidden Antibiotic Potential of Cannabis. ACS infectious diseases, 6(3), 338-346. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsinfecdis.9b00419

Masha Burelo
Investigadora en cannabinoides | Doctoranda en Neurociencia

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