Will CBD Affect My Prescription Medication?

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By now, most people have at least heard of CBD, while just a few years ago, this hemp-derived compound was practically unknown among the general public. 

CBD’s immense popularity comes from the fact that recent studies have shown that it might treat everything from anxiety to arthritis pain. 

And, what makes it even more popular is that it doesn’t require a prescription, isn’t believed to be addictive and is widely considered an alternative to use, even in high doses over a long period of time.

Still, as we all know, everyone’s body is different.  So, CBD may affect your friend differently from the way that it affects you.  And, CBD may affect you differently if you’re taking a prescription medication.

So, how does CBD interact with prescription drugs? 

The answer, unfortunately, is a bit complicated.  The good news, however, is that there are certain precautions that you can take in order to avoid any potential negative side effects from combining CBD with a prescription medication. 

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If you’re a CBD enthusiast who has recently been prescribed a medication, this article is for you.

Drugs and the Cytochrome P-450 System

The liver is a hard-working part of the body that’s responsible for filtering blood that comes from the digestive system while metabolizing potentially toxic substances. 

The liver contains a family of enzymes that are specifically there to process the ingredients that are found in drugs.  This family of enzymes is known as the cytochrome P-450 (CYP450) system, and its job is to break down toxins.

A healthy, functional liver processes these drugs quickly and easily so that your body may be rid of any potential toxic substances. 

In fact, drug dosage levels largely depend on how quickly the ingredients in the drugs can be processed by the liver.  If the dosage level of the drug is too high, it will take too long for the liver to metabolize its ingredients. 

This means that when you take your next dose, there’s still leftover drugs in their system.  This can cause potential toxins to accumulate in the liver, putting you at an increased risk of side effects and even overdose.

What Does CBD Have to do with All That?

Fascinatingly, there are certain substances that have a direct effect on the CYP450 system’s ability to do its job properly. 

Substances like grapefruit and St. John’s Wort signal this system to slow down. 

What that does is lengthen the time it takes for the liver to break down the drug that has been taken. 

This means that the drug’s effects will last longer in the body and that the person may see an increase in side effects as the first dose has not yet been cleared.

CBD is believed to be one of the substances that prolongs the time it takes for the CYP450 system to do its job.  In other words, taking CBD along with a prescription drug can intensify or prolong the effects of the drug that has been taken.

But, it’s important to note that not all prescription medications are metabolized by the CYP450 system.  The drugs that do pass through this system include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antiepileptics
  • Steroids
  • Antihistamines
  • NSAIDs
  • Beta blockers
  • Antiarrythmics
  • Antibiotics
  • Anisthetics

As you can see, many of the most commonly taken drugs are on this list, meaning that you need to be conscious of how CBD interacts with the liver’s ability to break down what you’re taking.  

Other CBD Interactions

There are other substances that interact with CBD that aren’t prescribed by doctors.

Caffeine

Certain prescription medications contain caffeine, a known stimulant that’s frequently consumed in the forms of coffee, tea and chocolate. 

Fascinatingly, CBD and caffeine seem to have a very happy relationship together.  It’s believed that CBD blocks the part of the brain that stimulates the release of cortisol upon caffeine consumption. 

In other words, if you get the jitters after that second cup, you might want to consider taking CBD.  It seems that when CBD is taken along with caffeine, you can experience an increase in energy and stamina without feeling nervous or on edge.

Alcohol

Alcohol and CBD have a very unique relationship.  When alcohol is consumed in particularly high doses, it does get processed by the CYP450 system as high alcohol volume can be toxic to the body.

However, it appears that CBD may be able to make binge-drinking less dangerous.  It appears that CBD is capable of protecting the liver from the potentially dangerous effects of heavy alcohol consumption. 

It’s also believed that taking CBD while intoxicated can lower blood alcohol levels.

Still, it’s not suggested that you drink alcohol while taking a prescription medication, even if you’re taking CBD along with it. 

And, it goes without saying that binge-drinking can be extremely dangerous whether you’re taking CBD or not.

Marijuana

Marijuana, as we all know, has long been considered a recreational drug.  However, in recent years, studies have shown that marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes. 

Therefore, many states in the United States now allow doctors to prescribe medicinal marijuana in order to treat certain conditions.  

Whether you’re taking marijuana for fun or for medicinal purposes, it’s important to understand how CBD interacts with this drug. 

Of course, we have to stress that CBD and marijuana are not the same thing despite the fact that much of the general public doesn’t understand the differences between the two substances. 

CBD comes from hemp, a plant that belongs to the cannabis family.  Marijuana is another member of the cannabis family that, unlike hemp, has a fairly high concentration of THC, a psychoactive compound that makes a person feel high.

The THC in marijuana can be used therapeutically, but some people are sensitive to this compound, reacting to it by feeling anxiety, paranoia and general uneasiness. 

Many cannabis experts believe that CBD has the unique ability to counteract the anxiety-inducing effects of THC

Therefore, many people who get anxious after taking marijuana choose to consume CBD along with the drug in order to feel calmer.

How to Use CBD if You Take Other Drugs

Keep these tips handy when you’re gonna decide to take CBD.

Tip #1: Talk to Your Doctor

Whenever you plan on taking CBD, speak to your doctor first.  Why? Because your doctor may be able to recommend specific products and dosage levels. 

If you’re already taking CBD and your doctor prescribes a medication, make sure that you tell your doctor about your CBD use.  They can help you figure out how to take the two substances in order to avoid a potential negative reaction.

Tip #2: Start with a Low Dose

If you’re already on a prescription medication and you wish to try CBD for the first time, start with a low dose of CBD

The lower the dose, the less effect it will have on your CYP450 system.  This reduces the chances of negative side effects caused by the medication that you’ve been prescribed.

Because CBD is considered relatively safe to consume, you can increase your dose as needed.  But, do so gradually. 

If you feel that your increased dose of CBD is interfering with the drug that you’re on, take a step back by reducing the CBD dosage level.

Tip #3: Try a CBD Topical for Pain Relief

It’s important to note that CBD that’s applied topically to the skin has far less effects on your liver than CBD that’s taken internally. 

If you’re trying to treat localized pain, you might want to consider applying a CBD balm or lotion to the affected area rather than ingesting it.  This will greatly reduce the likelihood of a drug interaction. 

Topicals can provide extraordinary relief when applied directly to the skin because of how easily the cannabinoid enters the affected area through the layers of the skin.

Tip #4: Note the Concentrations

CBD products come in a wide range of concentration levels, so pay attention to the particular concentration of the product that you’re taking.  The higher the concentration, the more effect it will have on your CYP450 system.

Tip #5: Avoid Other Substances that Impact How Drugs are Metabolized

If you’re taking CBD along with a prescription medication, try to avoid other substances that further inhibit the CYP450 system.  

These substances include:

  • Grapefruit
  • Watercress
  • St. John’s Wort

Now You Know

CBD could be a beneficial substance when taken correctly.  If you wish to take it while using a prescription medication, it’s crucial that you speak to your doctor and monitor your dosage levels as well as any potential side effects.  While being careful is important, CBD can be properly combined with a user’s prescription drugs.

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