Can CBD help with leishmaniasis, and if so, how?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes leishmaniasis as a disease caused by infection with leishmania parasites, which are spread by the bite of a phlebotomine sand fly. 

Leishmaniasis belongs to the category of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)(1)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), NTDs are communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions, affecting more than a billion people and costing economies billions of dollars every year(2)

When Sand Flies Bite

Phlebotomine sand flies are known for their ability to transmit several viral, bacterial, and protozoal disease-causing organisms on humans and other animals(3).

Infection is transmitted through the bite of infected female phlebotomine sand flies. Sand flies become infected by sucking blood from an infected animal or person.

Sand flies live in a wide range of habitats, and individual species often have precise habitat requirements. They are distributed from Argentina to the United States, including Brazil, Columbia, Panama and Costa Rica(4).

Common Types of Leishmaniasis 

There are several types of leishmaniasis in people. The most common types are cutaneous leishmaniasis and visceral leishmaniasis.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis causes skin lesions that can persist for months or years. The skin lesions develop within several weeks or months after the exposure but first appear years later, as in trauma or immunosuppression(5).

Visceral leishmaniasis affects internal organs (mainly, spleen, liver, and bone marrow) and encompasses a wide range of severity and manifestations. 

Although the incubation period ranges from weeks to months, an asymptomatic infection can manifest decades after the exposure. This delayed presentation is particularly true in people who become immunocompromised, such as those with HIV/AIDS.

Unfortunately, there are no vaccines or drugs to prevent leishmaniasis infection. The best way for people to avoid infection is to protect themselves from sand fly bites(6). 

Minimizing nocturnal outdoor activities, wearing protective clothing, and applying insect repellent to exposed skin may also help.

How CBD May Help With Leishmaniasis: A Close Look at Pinene

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains a complete range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids naturally present in cannabis, including a variety of fatty acids and beneficial fiber. 

Terpenes are the compounds in cannabis that give it distinctive aromas and flavors, while flavonoids are responsible for the vivid colors in most plants.

The combination of all these components creates a synergy known as “entourage effect,” where all of the constituents working together are more efficient than their isolated elements(7).

One of the essential terpenes found in cannabis plants is pinene, an aromatic compound that smells similar to a forest of pine trees. Pinene can also be found in orange peels, turpentine, pine needles, rosemary, dill, basil, parsley, and conifer trees.

Alpha-pinene and beta-pinene are the two types of pinene. The alpha type is typically abundant in cannabis.

In a 2014 study, which was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the authors examined the effects of Syzygium cumini essential oil (ScEO) and its major component, α-pinene, on leishmania(8).

Syzygium cumini is widely used in folk medicine against leishmaniasis, inflammation, chronic diarrhea, and ulcers. It is also one of the most commonly used plants for the treatment of diabetes worldwide. 

The researchers concluded that ScEO and its principal constituent, α-pinene, have significant anti-Leishmania activity.

A recent study published in Biomolecules examined the therapeutic potential of pinene(9). 

The researchers found that these terpenes had antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergic properties. 

These results parallel those from a previous study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology(10). 

The authors of the said study noted that alpha-pinene acts as a bronchodilator when working with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), opening up airways to help inflammatory disorders, like asthma. 

Also, a 2015 study published in PLoS ONE showed pinene’s antibiotic benefits(11). 

Working with cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN), alpha-pinene demonstrated a broad spectrum of antibiotic properties that worked against infections, like MRSA(12).

The studies mentioned above highlight the therapeutic benefits of pinene, which may help alleviate symptoms of leishmaniasis, such as inflammation and bacterial infection.

Given that pinene is found in cannabis, a full-spectrum CBD oil is most likely to contain this terpene as well. Thus, CBD oil may also have the potential to help with leishmaniasis. However, it is important to realize that there is much clinical investigation needed in order to support these claims.

Conclusion

Studies have shown that terpenes work with some cannabinoids, like THC, CBD, and CBN, to provide therapeutic effects. 

Through this synergy, a full-spectrum CBD oil may be able to deliver maximum benefits to those looking to alleviate symptoms and conditions linked to leishmaniasis. 

However, while the opportunities for the medicinal applications of the entourage effect are extensive, scientific research in this area is still lacking. Also, long-term side effects of CBD use are still unknown.

Thus, before using CBD for leishmaniasis symptoms or related conditions, consult with and seek advice from a doctor experienced in cannabis use.  


  1. CDC. (2018, July 24). Parasites – Leishmaniasis. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/leishmaniasis/index.html.
  2. WHO. Neglected tropical diseases. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/diseases/en/
  3. UF-IFAS. (2018, April). A Sand Fly. Retrieved from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/flies/lutzomyia_shannoni.htm.
  4. Ibid..
  5. CDC. (2018, Oct 15). Parasites – Leishmaniasis. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/leishmaniasis/health_professionals/index.html.
  6. Ibid. 
  7. Russo EB. The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain. Front Plant Sci. 2019;9:1969. Published 2019 Jan 9. DOI:10.3389/fpls.2018.01969.
  8. Rodrigues et al. Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeels essential oil and its major constituent α-pinene exhibit anti-Leishmania activity through immunomodulation in vitro. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2014.11.024.
  9. Salehi B, Upadhyay S, Erdogan Orhan I, et al. Therapeutic Potential of α- and β-Pinene: A Miracle Gift of Nature. Biomolecules. 2019;9(11):738. Published 2019 Nov 14. DOI:10.3390/biom9110738.
  10. Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163(7):1344–1364. DOI:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x.
  11. Kovač J, Šimunović K, Wu Z, et al. Antibiotic resistance modulation and modes of action of (-)-α-pinene in Campylobacter jejuni. PLoS One. 2015;10(4):e0122871. Published 2015 Apr 1. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0122871.
  12. CDC. (2019, Feb 5).  Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/index.html
CBD Clinicals is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Featured Posts


Spruce CBD Review

Spruce is a family-owned business based out of Raleigh, North Carolina. The company was founded in 2018 in the belief that modern medicine is broken and that there is a need for alternatives to dangerous pharmaceuticals. Spruce’s lab-grade CBD oil is 100% natural and tested by a third-party lab in...

Read more

Best CBD Oil for High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Why People Are Taking CBD for High Blood Pressure? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure can harden the arteries, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart, leading to heart disease(5). In a 2015 study conducted by researchers from the...

Read more

CBDistillery Review 2020

CBDistillery is a U.S. Hemp Authority-, GMP-, GRAS-, and ISO-certified CBD brand in Colorado. It was created with the belief that everyone should have access to quality products and information on CBD.

Read more

Top 4 Best CBD Oil for Dogs With Cancer

Why Some People are Using CBD for Dogs with Cancer? An article posted by the American Kennel Club (AKC) says that there is no conclusive scientific data on using cannabidiol (CBD) to treat dogs specifically. However, there is anecdotal evidence from dog owners suggesting that CBD can help with neuropathic...

Read more

NuLeaf Naturals Review

Based in Colorado, USA, and founded in 2014, NuLeaf Naturals is one of America’s top pioneering hemp companies. NuLeaf Naturals wellness products are derived from specially bred therapeutic hemp (Cannabis Sativa) plants grown on licensed farms in Colorado. Their hemp CBD plants are 100% organic whole-plant extracts and grown with...

Read more

Best CBD for Neuropathy (Nerve Pain)

As medical cannabis products have become more popular, people are turning to them to treat everything from anxiety to depression to chronic pain. Individuals who are suffering from neuropathy may show interest in trying CBD oil. What Is CBD? CBD comes from a plant that is part of the Cannabaceae...

Read more

SabaiDee Review + Discount Coupon Code for 2020

SabaiDee CBD products are tested both in-house and by independent laboratories to verify the quality of every batch. Their products all come with SabaiDee’s Happiness Guarantee. 

Read more

CBDmd Review

cbdMD produces full-spectrum oils made from all-natural hemp using a CO2 extraction process. This process allows cbdMD to remove practically all traces of THC from its products without affecting the plants’ other beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes. This allows cbdMD to create high-quality products that are set apart from some offerings...

Read more