Fighting misinformation on CBD in the age of Coronavirus
By Dr. Leslie Mudd, DPharm
A few days ago, our team received an email from a Nevada-based CBD products distributor offering CBD hand sanitizer with this bold headline: “FIGHT COVID-19 (CORONA) VIRUS WITH POTENT ANTI-BACTERIAL CANNABINOID-INFUSED HAND SANITIZER.” That’s quite a statement.
A virus is not bacteria
The first thing that caught my eye was the quick transition from “virus” to “anti-bacterial.” To put it simply, a virus is not bacteria. As I wrote in my first blog post, there are no human studies on CBD as an anti-viral agent. Therefore, any mention of CBD in the context of the coronavirus should be handled with a great deal of skepticism.
Hand sanitizer is due for its share of skepticism, too. To meet basic guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control, hand sanitizers need to be at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol to be effective.
But that 70% concentration level is for bacteria. At 70%, the alcohol is effective against bacteria, but the concentration needs to be about 90% to effectively kill viruses. At 70%, it may slow down a virus but not kill it — even though it meets CDC guidelines. That’s why hand sanitizers aren’t as good as simply washing your hands with soap and water.
Is CBD an anti-bacterial agent?
There is some work out of Australia last year and the Netherlands in the 1970’s that looked at in vitro work where CBD appeared effective against staph infections like MRSA and VRSA. At lower concentrations, CBD was inhibitory, and at a higher concentration, CBD was bactericidal. These are Gram-positive bacteria; it did not seem to work against Gram-negative bacteria.
There was a trial published recently from Denmark that looked at CBD to enhance the effectiveness of Bacitracin. Bacitracin is a topical medicine used to prevent minor skin infections. The study looked at how CBD might help Bacitracin work against several resistant Gram-positive bacteria.
The researchers validated the anti-microbial effect of CBD against certain resistant strains of bacteria and then demonstrated that CBD increased the effectiveness of Bacitracin against these resistant bacteria. But, the CBD was in contact with the bacterial colonies for 2.5 hours to get this result — far longer than a person uses hand sanitizer.
So what do we know?
CBD is an effective anti-bacterial agent for certain resistant Gram-positive bacteria at a given concentration over a certain length of time. But what we don’t know is the dose required to reach this concentration. We also don’t know long to apply the CBD. Furthermore, the science still doesn’t show if we would get the same results in a human as in a petri dish full of bacteria.
Does CBD hand sanitizer work?
To see if CBD-infused hand sanitizer works as an anti-bacterial agent, you would first need to do some tests to see if the CBD hand sanitizer inhibited and/or killed bacteria. I have not yet seen such a study.
As it stands now, a person must take a leap of faith that CBD added to hand sanitizer makes it more effective. The efficacy of CBD hand sanitizer as a microbe killer would be objective and could be documented and quantified. But as far as I know, that study does not yet exist.
I have not seen any data supporting the efficacy of CBD hand sanitizer. But, the data concerning CBD and CBG as antibacterials is actually quite good. Additionally, CBD seems to desensitize certain drug-resistant bugs so that antibiotics will work on them again. This would be huge in skin and bone infections where you could apply it topically. If there is an intravenous preparation of CBD in the future, it might revolutionize antibiotic therapy in this day of drug-resistant superbugs.
CBD hand sanitizer conclusions
The most important thing you could take away from this article is that hand sanitizer is not nearly as effective at killing a virus than simply washing your hands with soap and water. I don’t think that the CBD hand sanitizer will hurt anything except your wallet. But if you’re looking for genuine CBD products that are USDA certified organic, you have come to the right place.