We know that CBD is wonderful. The way that it goes to work in your body makes it great for so many different things.
But does that mean you can take it with other drugs without worrying about the two interacting? Are CBD drug interactions something you should be concerned about?
We firmly believe in providing honest, trustworthy information about CBD. And that means giving you all the details. Here’s what you need to know about taking CBD with other medications.
CBD Drug Interactions: What You Need to Know
Research shows that CBD is generally safe and has few, if any, minor side effects.
CBD is a biological compound, and just like any pharmaceutical drug, herbal supplement, or natural compound used for therapeutic purposes, it reacts in your body.
So, does that mean it won’t interact well with one of those other things?
One of the biggest concerns people have when it comes to CBD drug interactions, and what most doctors will discuss if you bring this to them, is that you might notice a doubling up of side effects, especially if the drug you’re taking has similar side effects.
As mentioned, CBD has very few reported side effects, and they’re mild: drowsiness, lightheadedness, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth.
However, if you take your CBD with drugs that have those same side effects, you may increase their likelihood.
So, for example, if you’re taking CBD at the same time as a prescription med that causes sleepiness, such as opioids, benzodiazepines (Xanax or Ativan), antipsychotics, antidepressants, or antihistamines (Benadryl), you might notice increased sleepiness, fatigue.
You might also notice this with herbal supplements that have sedative effects, like melatonin or St. John’s wort.
In these cases, our advice is to stagger the times you take each one. So, if you take those prescription meds in the morning, wait a few hours to take your CBD.
Can it Alter Other Drug Effects?
Now, increased side effects is one thing, but can CBD alter the effects of certain drugs? The concern has to do with how your body metabolizes certain substances.
When you take a medication, your body has to metabolize it, or break it down. This is done by a family of enzymes called cytochrome P450 (CYP450), which converts these foreign substances so your body can use them and eliminate them.
Some medications affect CYP450, either by slowing down or speeding up drug metabolism. That change in metabolism rate can alter how your body processes the medications you take.
This same thing happens with CBD – and therein lies the concern.
CYP450 enzymes are responsible for metabolizing several cannabinoids, including CBD. One specific enzyme, CYP3A4, does this, as well as metabolizing about 60% of prescription meds. The thing is, CBD also interacts with CYP3A4 (as do many medications).
For example, CBD can inhibit CYP3A4, meaning it can’t work as effectively to break down the meds in your system. And since other meds also do the same thing, if you then take CBD while on these medications, your body can’t process the CBD as effectively.
So what does this mean?
Well, it could mean that your body is breaking down meds too slowly, so you’ve got more meds in your system at one time than intended, which could increase their effects.
On the flip-side, other substances can speed up those CYP450 enzymes, meaning meds are metabolized faster. In this case, your body might break down the CBD faster, meaning it won’t be as effective.
CBD Drug Interactions: Final Thoughts
When in doubt, ask your doctor.
With any prescription drugs, your doctor will check for potential interactions before recommending a new drug, or will advise you on the best times to take those drugs to make sure the effects are not altered. That’s why it’s important to let your doctor know if you’re taking CBD if you’re given a new pharmaceutical.
If you’re concerned about CBD drug interactions, or if you’re considering adding CBD oil to your daily health regimen and currently take other prescription medications, ask your trusted health professional.
Also, check for the “grapefruit warning” on your prescription meds. Many different drugs interact with grapefruit and some closely related citrus juices because chemicals in grapefruit known as furanocoumarins inhibit CYP3A4, much the same way as CBD. The result is a slowed metabolization of medications, which we talked about above.
CBD is an all natural substance, but that doesn’t mean that it absolutely won’t interact at all with whatever you’re taking. To be safe, just check with your family doc to be sure you’re in the clear.