The antimicrobial potential of cannabidiol.
Antimicrobial resistance threatens the viability of modern medicine, which is largely dependent on the successful prevention and treatment of bacterial infections. Unfortunately, there are few new therapeutics in the clinical pipeline, particularly for Gram-negative bacteria. We now present a detailed evaluation of the antimicrobial activity of cannabidiol, the main non-psychoactive component of cannabis. We confirm previous reports of Gram-positive activity and expand the breadth of pathogens tested, including highly resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Clostridioides difficile. Our results demonstrate that cannabidiol has excellent activity against biofilms, little propensity to induce resistance, and topical in vivo efficacy. Multiple mode-of-action studies point to membrane disruption as cannabidiol’s primary mechanism. More importantly, we now report for the first time that cannabidiol can selectively kill a subset of Gram-negative bacteria that includes the ‘urgent threat’ pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Structure-activity relationship studies demonstrate the potential to advance cannabidiol analogs as a much-needed new class of antibiotics.