Science Blog
June 24, 2019

A compound from cannabis is active against the bacteria responsible for many serious infections such as golden staph and pneumonia, including bacteria that have become resistant to other antibiotics, IMB research has shown.

Dr Mark Blaskovich from IMB’s Centre for Superbug Solutions, in collaboration with Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd, found that cannabidiol, the main non-psychoactive chemical compound extracted from cannabis and hemp plants, was remarkably effective at killing a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria.

Cannabidiol had a similar potency to established antibiotics such as vancomycin and daptomycin, and did not lose effectiveness after extended treatment.

“Given cannabidiol’s documented anti-inflammatory effects, existing safety data in humans, and potential for varied delivery routes, it is a promising new antibiotic worth further investigation,” Dr Blaskovich said.

“The combination of inherent antimicrobial activity and potential to reduce damage caused by the inflammatory response to infections is particularly attractive.”

Importantly, the drug retained its activity against bacteria that have become highly resistant to other common antibiotics. Under extended exposure conditions that lead to resistance against the antibiotics vancomycin or daptomycin, cannabidiol did not lose effectiveness.