CBD is a buzzword that has been on many lips lately. Leaping from relative obscurity to worldwide fame, CBD is credited with easing ailments such as epilepsy, anxiety, and chronic pain. The spike of people self-prescribing CBD treatment has left many wondering:
Is safe to mix with my existing medication?
The rise of CBD
CBD has firmly cemented its place on the medical scene, and its popularity continues to grow.
Medical cannabis is now legal in 35 US states, and 15 have legalized recreational consumption. More and more research is being conducted into the benefits of CBD and other cannabis-derived medical products, and lawmakers and pharmaceutical companies around the world are taking note.
A problem for consumers is that we are currently in a CBD grey area. While the research has proved conclusive in some areas – such as epilepsy – the jury is still out on what benefits it has in treating other conditions. Without government approval and regulations, many people turning to CBD do not have the proper knowledge of dosing, side effects, and critically – which drugs you should not mix with CBD.
That’s why we have taken the time to put together this guide of which medication to avoid if you have self-prescribed CBD.
Can CBD interact with prescription drugs?
One of the first questions your doctor will ask when prescribing any drug is ‘are you taking any other form of medication.’ This question is crucial.
But why is mixing medication risky?
Enzymes in liver and kidneys play a vital role in breaking down and metabolizing many drugs, and mixing particular medications can affect the speed at which the body processes them.
One family of these enzymes, known as CYP450, is responsible for breaking down and metabolizing over 60% of medication prescribed in the US. CYP450 enzymes take charge when it comes to metabolizing CBD. If your body is busy processing CBD, it can be less effective in breaking down other medications in your system.
The inverse is also true. Some drugs purposefully inhibit drug-metabolizing enzymes in your body. If you take this kind of medication, CBD can not break down, and you may not receive the full benefits.
If your body breaks down a drug too quickly, you may experience increased side effects. If it breaks it down too slowly, the efficacy of your medication may suffer.
Can I take CBD oil with antidepressants?
One of the leading reasons people turn to CBD is to treat anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. A whole host of prescription drugs are available to tackle these issues, and many people are taking CBD to supplement their existing medication.
So can you take CBD products with antidepressants?
Very little research has been conducted regarding which drugs not to mix with CBD, and the story is much the same for antidepressant medication. While some in the medical community have their reservations, most of the concerns about mixing CBD with antidepressants are hypothetical until research proves otherwise.
CYP450 enzymes are largely responsible for the breakdown of benzodiazepine-based anti-anxiety medicine, and mixing the two can lead to higher levels of the drug in your system. The same enzymes also metabolize many serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and antipsychotics.
Some tricyclic antidepressants are known to increase blood pressure and heart rate. Similar effects have been recorded from CBD. Mixing the two has a possibility of increased risk in this area, even if you have no history of heart problems.
Can I take CBD oil and blood pressure medication?
Again, research in this area thin on the ground. Medical marijuana is still very much in its infancy, and studies on its effectiveness are in the early days. Research showing CBD’s effects when mixed with existing medication is even more scarce, and doctors do not yet know the full risks.
That being said, you should not ignore the hypothetical advice of experts in this emerging field. It has the potential to halt problems that may develop further down the line.
As we’ve already seen, there is a link between CBD and decreased blood pressure. A 2017 study found that just one dose was enough to lower the blood pressure in a group of healthy adult volunteers. CBD is known for its relaxing and stress-busting properties, which in turn leads to a decrease in blood pressure.
The link here is obvious.
If you are already taking medication to lower your blood pressure, taking CBD alongside this can double the effects – possibly leading to a dangerously low blood pressure level.
On top of this, many of the common prescription medications for high blood pressure also use the CYP450 pathway, the system CBD inhibits. Taking the two together can decrease the effects of both CBD and your medication. Specific blood pressure drugs that this can affect include metoprolol and amlodipine besylate.
The bottom line
The main takeaway from all of this is that there simply hasn’t been enough research to be conclusive. Healthcare professionals have been quick to highlight possible risk areas, but without the data to back it up, these are just best guesses.
When it comes to your health, especially when taking medication, it’s nearly always better to err on the side of caution. Taking unnecessary risks just isn’t worth it.
The best advice we can give if you are thinking of supplementing existing medication with CBD is to speak to your prescribing doctor or pharmacist. They will provide you with a clear indication of the risk and benefits depending on your specific drug and dosage.
Meanwhile, around the world scientists and researchers are pushing the boundaries of our understanding of CBD further every day. As the medical cannabis sector continues to grow, more and more attention is being focused on this exciting new field of medicine.
If the trend continues in this direction, the number of approved and regulated CBD and cannabis-derived medicines available over the counter and via prescription will begin to grow. As this happens, further clarity around what drugs can be taken with CBD is bound to emerge.