We talk a lot about the best ways to take CBD for specific purposes, combining our knowledge of the ways in which cannabinoids work with the body with our expertise in how particular formulas can best be utilized.
But, do these same rules apply if you’re taking a prescription medication?
We know that many combinations of substances have the potential to cause dangerous interactions.
Today, we’ll be discussing what we know about combining CBD with common prescription drugs.
Please do not use this as medical advice, this is for educational purposes and all medical advice should be received from a licensed medical professional as 'we' here at Wellicy are not medical professionals.
Can CBD Be Dangerous?
Before we discuss the relationship between CBD and prescription medications, first we need to talk about whether or not CBD is safe on its own.
The most commonly reported side effect is drowsiness, which seems to only occur if CBD is taken in very high doses, but again this can vary from person to person.
Now, the thing about CBD is that all compounds can interact with different people’s bodies in different ways.
This is true of anything, as even a favorite food that nourishes some can trigger allergic reactions in others.
That’s why we recommend that you take CBD under the supervision of a doctor who knows your medical history.
Is it Safe to Take CBD with a Prescription Medication?
If you’re reading this article, you’re likely on a prescription medication and want to take CBD, or you’re taking CBD and you’ve just been prescribed a medication.
Either way, it’s important that you know the facts before putting the two together.
The thing is that we don’t have a solid answer regarding the potential for an interaction.
That’s because CBD is new, plain and simple and there just isn't enough hard evidence based on extended studies to know every possible combination.
It’s only been a successful industry for about ten years, and so specific studies on its effects are lacking in many ways.
Research regarding interactions with drugs are not conclusive, which makes it hard for us to give you a firm answer.
What we can tell you is that many people who take CBD are also on some form of a prescription medication, and as of now there have been no accounts of toxicity reported that are linked to a combination of CBD and a prescription medication.
It likely won’t be for at least a couple of years until we see an influx of studies relating specifically to a link between CBD and a specific drug.
As we said, CBD is nontoxic, but that doesn’t mean that toxic effects are impossible when CBD is mixed with another substance.
Essentially, the potential for an interaction relates to how CBD could change the way in which the medication behaves in the body.
CBD and its Potential Effects on Drug Metabolization
One aspect of taking CBD that needs to be explored is its effects on the metabolization of certain drugs.
Here is where the potential for an interaction is most likely to exist.
Prescription medications are most commonly metabolized by an enzyme produced within the body called CYP3A4.
This enzyme is responsible for breaking down the drug that has been taken so that it may be properly evacuated from the body, rather than lingering in the system.
This enzyme is crucial, as it ensures that the body does not accumulate drugs in toxic levels.
Without this enzyme, you could very well overdose, as you would simply be adding to the existing amounts of drugs in your body that hasn't been broken down and removed.
We know that one inhibitor of CYP3A4 is grapefruit.
You’ve likely noticed that many drugs have a warning against consuming grapefruit while taking the medication.
Grapefruit is known to suppress CYP3A4, which can lead to dangerous amounts of drugs building up in the body.
Which is often why we tell our customers if you are on medications that says to avoid grapefruit, we recommend staying away from CBD.
As of now, researchers are hoping to see if CBD has the same effect.
Interestingly, this is the very enzyme that metabolizes CBD when we take it.
This is the reason why some medical professionals are concerned about mixing certain drugs with CBD.
If CBD is utilizing CYP3A4 mechanisms, then it means that an additional substance requiring this enzyme to metabolize may be competing with CBD, thus preventing either from breaking down fully.
As of now, research is in the pre-clinical stages, so we don’t have additional information.
Another reason on why it's crucial you speak to your doctor when prescribed medications before starting CBD.
Type of Medication May Make a Difference
Of course, every medication is different.
For instance, medications for anxiety and sleep seem to rely heavily on this enzyme, as do blood thinners and blood pressure medications.
Therefore, they may be at the most risk of causing an interaction with CBD, since they rely the most heavily on this enzyme, and if the enzyme is bound up trying to metabolize CBD, then you might find that these drugs really struggle to break down in your system.
Another class of medications that require a lot of activity from this enzyme is opioids.
One reason why opioids are known for being extremely risky compared to other drugs is because of how much they inhibit this enzyme in order to break down fully in your system, thus causing many interactions with other substances.
Certain less-aggressive drugs including certain allergy and cold medications, as well as prescription anti-inflammatories, may be less likely to cause an interaction, due to the fact that they don’t require as much of this enzyme to clear out of the body.
The CBD Product’s Specifications Can Make a Difference
It’s important to note that how you take CBD and what form you take can play a role in the potential for an interaction.
First of all, CBD comes in a wide range of strengths, and higher strengths, along with higher and more frequent doses, would certainly have the potential to be consequential than small amounts taken sporadically in low concentrations.
Another factor is how often you take it.
The more frequently you take CBD, the longer CBD is present in your system, even after the effects have worn off.
CBD that is taken daily in high doses may be present in the system for a couple of weeks after the last dose.
Further, the delivery method makes a difference.
For instance, topical CBD products are likely the least risky, because they are not used internally, and the compounds stay centralized rather than getting dispersed throughout the body.
There’s a chance that the particular chemical composition may play a role. CBD is just one compound in hemp, and it uses CYP3A4 to break down.
But, full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD products contain additional cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as other compounds, that have also not been explored widely for their potential to inhibit this process.
Any Underlying Conditions May Make a Difference
Finally, it’s always possible that an underlying condition can cause a more severe interaction.
Some ailments can interfere with the metabolization process in general, thus making an interaction more likely to occur.
This is why it is incredibly important to talk to your doctor before starting or changing your CBD routine.
Are There Specific Drugs with Which CBD Should Be Avoided?
It is possible for certain medications, particularly blood thinners to interact with CBD.
Always consult your medical professional if you are pharmaceutical drugs before adding any new products to your wellness routine.
What Should I Do About Taking CBD with Medications?
If you are concerned about combining CBD with a medication, it’s important to speak to your doctor.
We are not medical experts, and therefore cannot give you medical advice.
Your doctor, however, is authorized to do so.
He or she should know all about the medication as well as the specifics of your CBD usage, so tell them how much you take in terms of dosage and milligram strength, how frequently you take it, the delivery method and the compounds in the product besides CBD, if any exist.
One super simple tip is to take your CBD products to the doctor with you, just as you would your prescription medications.
If your doctor is unaware of the potential for an interaction, make sure that you inform them.
You can point them in the direction of researchers suggesting a potential for an interaction to occur.
Finally, be responsible with both your CBD usage and your prescription medication usage.
Only take the recommended amounts of each, assuming your doctor has authorized a combination of the two in your treatment plan.
As of now, not enough research exists to say whether or not CBD is safe to take with certain prescription drugs.
That’s why it’s important that you speak with your doctor, who can provide you with more personalized information.