A medical cannabis expert has predicted that CBD-based antibiotics could be prescribed on the NHS in five years’ time.

Professor Mike Barnes, a leading neurologist, commented on the prospect after research found CBD – which is the main non-psychoactive component of cannabis – can kill superbugs that have developed resistance to current antibiotics.

CBD oil stock. Credit: PA
CBD oil stock. Credit: PA

He told Metro: “I think we’re five years plus away, a pessimist might say 10 years, I think that’s too much given the plethora of research at the moment.

“I think it’s potentially really exciting and yet another thing that cannabis does, so we should embrace cannabis as a medicine because it does so many different things.”

As it stands, CBD has so far proven beneficial as a topical treatment. This is a medication that is applied to a particular place on or in the body for example, the skin in the form of creams or oils.

But Prof Barnes went on to predict that it won’t be long until another breakthrough is made, as he added: “To put very crudely, if you put CBD on a plate with bacteria it kills it very quickly, but if you put it in a tablet form it won’t kill it very quickly.”

Dr Mark Blaskovich, Director of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, said CBD can penetrate and kill a wide range of bacteria including Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which causes gonorrhoea.

Talking about this, Professor Barnes went on: “To get something that helps against this antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea, which is a WHO top priority, you would hope that it would be fast-tracked through the approval system to get this onto the market as soon as possible.”

Dr Mark Blaskovich. Credit: Institute for Molecular Bioscience
Dr Mark Blaskovich. Credit: Institute for Molecular Bioscience

The research on the effectiveness of CBD against gonorrhoea – which was recently published in the Communications Biology journal – also suggested cannabidiol is effective in killing off superbug MRSA found in golden staph bacteria, and may be used to treat diabetic ulcers and wounds.

Dr Blaskovich said: “Cannabidiol showed a low tendency to cause resistance in bacteria even when we sped up potential development by increasing concentrations of the antibiotic during ‘treatment’.

“We think that cannabidiol kills bacteria by bursting their outer cell membranes, but we don’t know yet exactly how it does that, and need to do further research.”



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