The list of ailments that stand to benefit from cannabidiol (CBD) use seems to be growing every day. Now, researchers have unearthed another exciting, and perhaps surprising potential benefit of the phytocannabinoid.

One of the largest concerns for physicians worldwide is combating the increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics. In a CBD study conducted at the University of Westminster, researchers found cannabidiol may be able to increase the effectiveness of antibiotic treatments, especially for E. coli.

Small compounds released by bacteria allow them to develop membrane vesicles that can prevent antibiotics from being effective. CBD oil, in this study, demonstrated the ability to stop E. coli from creating membrane vesicles. As a result, antibiotics were able to destroy the bacteria and prevent them from spreading.

“When applied in combination with a range of antibiotics, CBD increased anti-bacterial effects of selected antibiotics, depending on bacteria type,” the study read. “CBD, in combination with specific antibiotics, may thus possibly be used as an adjuvant to selectively target bacteria to sensitize them to antibiotic treatment and reduce antibiotic resistance.”

Other studies have highlighted CBD’s potential to increase the effectiveness of antibiotic treatments, but researchers were unable to precisely identify why this was the case. Understanding this process could be key for medical professionals in the future as fears of ineffective medicine is a top concern. If “superbugs” as they are called, continue to increase their ability to resist available treatment, scientists believe deaths across the world may increase from current estimates of 700,000 per year global deaths to 10 million people every year by 2050.

“Our findings highlight that cannabis oil application, in conjunction with antibiotic treatment, may be an interesting addition to the development of new antibiotics to help reduce antibiotic resistance, especially given that antibiotic resistance is on the rise and predicted to be a global health disaster,” the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Sigrun Lange said.

Of course, more research will be needed to definitively conclude that CBD could be used to enhance antibiotic treatment. But for now, the potential is very exciting for the medical community.

“The next step is now to set up clinical trials to provide the evidence of benefit in real patients,” Lange said.

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