Does CBD Interact With Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are used to prevent or treat specific types of bacterial infections. In some cases, they are prescribed for an infection that keeps coming back or causes an increased risk of complications.

However, antibiotics are not effective against viral infections, such as the common cold or flu (1).

Can CBD Be Taken With Antibiotics?

There is no known interaction between CBD (cannabidiol) and antibiotics. However, there is a potential risk when combining CBD and antibiotics, as both are metabolized (broken down) through the cytochrome P450 enzyme system (2).

Due to how antibiotics are metabolized, the concentrations of these drugs could potentially increase when taken with CBD.

The CYP450 liver enzymes are responsible for breaking down toxic compounds, including over 60% of any over-the-counter or prescription drugs consumed.

Certain substances can affect processing times within this system, making drugs metabolize faster or slower than they would on their own.

Cannabidiol can inhibit the cytochrome P450 system’s ability to metabolize certain drugs, leading to an overall increase in processing times, resulting in potentially higher levels over a longer period of time (3)

Antibiotics use the cytochrome P450 enzyme system and can interact with CBD, as reiterated by authors Eileen Konieczny, RN, and Lauren Wilson, in their book, Healing with CBD (4).

Until studies that specifically look at how CBD interacts with antibiotics are completed, talk with a doctor to make sure there are no CBD drug interactions with other medications currently taken.

CBD Oil As Antibiotic: What the Research Says

CBD oil has been shown to possess antimicrobial properties, making it another tool for fighting infection. 

Although it is not well-understood how CBD oil fights bacteria, studies have confirmed CBD’s antibiotic properties, which are particularly useful in attacking bacteria that have become resistant to traditional antibiotics.

One such study investigated how various cannabinoids, including CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), affect pathogenic bacteria (5).

In the said study, each cannabinoid was tested against six strains of the antibiotic-resistant superbug, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). All cannabinoids showed potent activity against a variety of MRSA strains. 

The results of the study indicated that CBD has proven to be effective at fighting one of the most treatment-resistant strains of bacteria the field of medicine has ever seen.

Then, the researchers at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience discovered in 2019, through a series of test-tube experiments, that CBD could kill numerous strains of bacteria, including treatment-resistant strains like VRSA, VISA, and MRSA (6).

These strains have developed resistance to other existing Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved antibiotics over the years. However, they did not develop any resistance to CBD. 

In one of the experiments, the researchers found that despite exposing the strains to CBD for 20 days, this cannabis compound was able to outmaneuver the entire process of superbug development.

Moreover, CBD was found to be effective at disrupting biofilms, a microscopic conglomeration of bacteria, mucopolysaccharides, and waste products and act as a physical barrier that prevents antibiotics from working against the bacteria growth that leads to difficult-to-treat infections. This breakthrough in microbiology could ultimately lead to the development of new treatments.

Lead author, Mark Blaskovich, stated there was no doubt CBD possessed a unique mechanism that worked against bacteria resistant to other antibiotics. He admitted, however, that he and his team still could not explain how this mechanism works. 

A later study, conducted in August 2019 by scientists from the United Kingdom, has shed light on the workings of that unique mechanism (7).

In the said study, which was published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, the authors examined the antibacterial effects of CBD and Escherichia Coli bacteria (E. coli)’s membrane vesicles, which the bacteria use to spread and communicate. 

The researchers discovered that the antibiotic’s ability to prevent the release of those membrane vesicles is enhanced by CBD. 

The results suggested that CBD could help fight specific bacteria as a tailored co-application with selected antibiotics.

The researchers concluded that CBD might help increase antibiotic activity and reduce antibiotic resistance when used in tailored co-application.

Conclusion

The results of the studies demonstrating CBD’s antibiotic properties are especially exciting for the CBD community. 

However, it is essential to note that researchers still do not know what made CBD powerful at fighting the infections during the experiments. 

All the research was carried out in a lab, in test tubes and on bacteria cultures, not on humans.

To date, there has been no study that recommends taking CBD with antibiotics. Neither is there a study that suggests CBD can replace antibiotics in the treatment or prevention of some types of bacterial infections. 

Further research needs to be conducted to study the long-term side effects and resistance of CBD as an antibiotic. 

Before taking CBD or any CBD products to treat or prevent any infection, do research and consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use for advice.


  1. NHS. (2019, May 23). Antibiotics Uses. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antibiotics/uses/.
  2. Pharmotech SA. CBD Drug Interactions. Retrieved from https://pharmotech.ch/cbd-drug-interactions/.
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Eileen Konieczny and Lauren Wilson. Healing with CBD: How Cannabidiol Can Transform Your Health without the High (California: Ulysses Press, 2018). P46-47.
  5. Giovanni Appendino, G et al. Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure−Activity Study. Journal of Natural Products 2008 71 (8), 1427-1430. DOI: 10.1021/np8002673.
  6. The University of Queensland. (2019, June 24). Cannabis compound could be powerful new antibiotic. Retrieved from https://imb.uq.edu.au/article/2019/06/cannabis-compound-could-be-powerful-new-antibiotic; CDC. (2010, Nov 24). General Information about VISA/VRSA. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/visa_vrsa/visa_vrsa.html; CDC. (2019, June 26). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/community/index.html
  7. Kosgodage US, Matewele P, Awamaria B, et al. Cannabidiol Is a Novel Modulator of Bacterial Membrane Vesicles. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2019;9:324. Published 2019 Sep 10. DOI:10.3389/fcimb.2019.00324. 
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