CBD and Antibiotics, Do they work together? Here’s the Answer

Posted February 17, 2021 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

You may already be taking antibiotics or are scheduled to, and CBD might be something you already take or are looking into. So, do CBD and antibiotics work well together? That’s what we’ll be addressing in this article. Here’s a quick summary to get us started.

CBD and Antibiotics – According to studies, CBD, when taken together with antibiotics, increases the effectiveness of antibiotics through its effects on membrane vesicles (MVs), increases the effects of antibiotic bacitracin (BAC) against gram-positive bacteria, and reduces the development of antibiotic resistance.

That might sound complex, so we’ll break down exactly what these mean for a user in more detail. First, let’s recap on the two elements we’re talking about here – CBD and antibiotics.

CBD and Antibiotics

What are CBD and antibiotics?

To begin the topic of discussion, it’s important to get an overview of what these two elements of the topic are. Below is a breakdown of what is CBD and antibiotics. 

What is CBD

CBD is short for cannabidiol and is a chemical compound of the cannabis sativa plant. This is a naturally occurring compound, and it can be extracted from the plant and placed into oils and edibles for use.

The specialty of CBD, unlike many other varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant, is that CBD is not psychoactive. Meaning it will exhibit its benefits without affecting one’s mental state. 

This supplement is mainly used to impart a feeling of calmness and relaxation, including promoting sleep. Alongside this, CBD is used for treating anxiety, insomnia, and different other types of chronic pain.

What are antibiotics

Antibiotics are medications that help to stop infections caused by bacteria. In other words, it helps to treat and prevent some types of bacterial infections. Antibiotics are not effective for virus infections.

Antibiotics work by killing the bacteria or preventing its reproduction and growth. Antibiotics should only be prescribed to treat health problems that are not serious and those that can only be cleared with antibiotics. 

Recently, the combination of CBD and antibiotics has shown to exhibit positive outcomes for bacterial infections.

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How do antibiotics work with CBD?

Firstly, it’s important to state that the combination of CBD and antibiotics is still arguable in its efficacy, and several on-going studies are trying to observe this combination more thoroughly.

However, considering the available studies, it’s believed that CBD and antibiotics do work together, resulting in positive outcomes. This comes down to three main reasons.

Below is a breakdown of these reasons and how they work.

1. CBD increases the effectiveness of antibiotics through its effects on membrane vesicles (MVs)

According to one major study conducted by the University of Westminster, it’s revealed that CBD, through a newly discovered mode of action, can increase the effectiveness of antibiotics, depending on the type of bacteria.

This study also involved researchers from other UK universities. 

The underlying reason for the increase in antibiotic effectiveness when taken with CBD includes the effects of CBD on the release of membrane vesicles (MVs).

MVs are components that are released from bacteria that can transfer material for bacterial communication. MVs also function as traps for antibiotics

The study tracked the release of MVs from bacteria with and without CBD.

The study confirmed that CBD successfully affected both the number of MVs released as well as the structure of the MVs released from bacteria. 

The study also observed the effects of CBD on different types of bacteria with thick or thin cell walls. It was found that CBD particularly reduced the release of MVs from thin-walled bacteria. 

Moreover, the use of CBD and antibiotics showed that CBD was effective in killing thin cell-walled bacteria.

In conclusion, the study stated that using CBD combined with specific antibiotics may be used as an agent to target bacteria more effectively. In addition, the use of CBD with antibiotics can make bacteria sensitive to antibiotic treatment.

Further to support this study, a similar study from the University of Southern Denmark found that CBD combined with antibiotics has a more powerful effect in treating certain infections than antibiotics alone. 

2. Increases the effects of antibiotic bacitracin (BAC) against gram-positive bacteria 

CBD and Antibiotics

The same study from the University of Southern Denmark analyzed how different compounds work with bacteria.

This study went a step further to analyze the effects of compounds in Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), a gram-positive bacteria known to cause serious infections like pneumonia and bacteremia (bloodstream infection).

Alongside this, the study also investigated the treatment for gram-negative bacteria.

The study analyzed bacteria using compounds such as CBD, antibiotic bacitracin (BAC), CBD with BAC, and ethyl alcohol, and nothing at all.

The study successfully concluded that CBD increased the effect of BAC against S. aureus and other gram-positive bacteria.

But this combination of CBD and BAC was not effective for gram-negative bacteria. The study also emphasized the need to use high-quality, authentic CBD oil for the best results.

3. Reduces the development of antibiotic resistance 

As many people are aware, overuse of antibiotics is the main cause of antibiotic resistance.

So, combining antibiotics with a helper compound like CBD can reduce the number of antibiotics you might need for treatment.

This effectively prevents you from overusing antibiotics, as the combination reduces the number of antibiotics you’ll need if used alone, and as such, will prevent antibiotic resistance.

Safe usage and administration of CBD and antibiotics

Although CBD is effective in combination with antibiotics for certain bacteria, the dosage and administration are vital aspects for your safety.

Apart from the positive outcomes CBD has with antibiotics, CBD inhibits the cytochrome P-450 system. 

To provide a brief overview, Cytochrome P-450 enzymes metabolize certain drugs that pass through one’s system – in this case, antibiotics. In other words, the Cytochrome P-450 system is a purifying system that metabolizes dangerous toxins and is a vital part of the human body. 

Depending on a drug and its dosage, the Cytochrome P-450 system will need a different time period to metabolize them.

At the same time, some drugs can directly impact the efficiency and effectiveness of the system.

CBD, on the other hand, is a drug that inhibits the Cytochrome P-450 system. In other words, when you take CBD with antibiotics, you could pose the risk of taking less or more antibiotics than are required.

As a result, this can be dangerous and even lead to a potential overdose.

Dangers of incorrect dosage

Depending on the ratio of CBD to antibiotics, CBD can either slow down or speed up the metabolism process of other drugs within our Cytochrome P-450 system. 

As a result, in the case of high CBD doses, you could end up with higher doses of drugs in the system because the metabolization is inhibited by the CBD, thereby leading to dangerous outcomes. 

This doesn’t mean that you can’t take CBD with antibiotics, but it’s essential to take it under the advice and guidance of a healthcare professional or doctor.

Your doctor is the best source to find the right ratio of CBD and antibiotic combination. They will be able to find a balance that is both healthy and effective for your health condition.

Closing thoughts

As always, be sure to seek your doctor’s advice before taking any action with regards to starting or changing medications.

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