Medical Interactions: Does CBD Play Well With Others?

Look, we get it: CBD is a phenomenally well-rounded supplement, but it can’t do absolutely everything. New users of CBD especially tend to use CBD alongside other drugs. These commonly include anti-inflammatories, painkillers, or other medications. (And, obviously, if you’ve been ordered to take heart meds, those babies aren’t going anywhere). While cannabinoids are found naturally in the brain, using mixing drugs with no prescription could still prove dangerous. Any unsupervised cocktail of chemicals opens the possibility for drug interactions, mild as CBD may be. So, let’s dive right into it shall we? How do CBD and alcohol, other medications, and other supplements interact? DISCLAIMER: Let’s get the boring legal bit out of the way first. The following information is not an official recommendation of any kind. You should always consult a doctor before stopping, starting or combining any medication(s). Batteries not included. (Couldn’t help it).

CBD Interactions with Common Medications

Here’s how CBD interactions work: CBD influences the liver enzyme. This enzyme is responsible for metabolizing, or breaking down and processing, certain medications. The enzyme, cytochrome P450 (yes, it’s an enzyme and not a spaceship), determines the speed at which medications break down, how long they linger, and how potent their effects are. While there are of course other enzymes and substances involved in breaking down medications, cytochrome P450 metabolizes about two thirds of popular medications in circulation today. Here are some of the most common medications that cytochrome P450 helps to process:
  1. Antibiotics
  2. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
  3. Steroids
  4. Beta blockers
  5. Anesthetics
  6. Antihistamines
It is very likely that you have or will take one of these medications, especially NSAIDs. So, what does this mean if you are taking or plan to take cannabidiol as well? The most important consideration here is accurate dosage. Since CBD interacts with the above drugs, to name  a few, it will affect the rate at which the drugs are metabolized. For that reason, the dosage recommendation for the drugs needs to be carefully monitored by your doctor. If drugs taken impact the liver enzyme mentioned earlier strongly enough, the metabolism of medication may slow down. This means that the drug will “hit harder” and last longer. All your doctor needs to do is tweak the dosage and listen to your feedback. Rest assured, this is the only side effect recorded in CBD interaction studies. What about alcohol, though?

CBD and Alcohol

Alright, we’ve talked about the no fun stuff, now let’s talk about the gin in the cabinet. Do CBD and alcohol play well together? This is where it gets very interesting. Like prescription medication, cytochrome P450 metabolizes alcohol as well, but only when one drinks to excess. When alcohol is consumed in more reasonable quantities, only two other enzymes participate in metabolization, and neither cause any CBD interactions. That’s right: drinking in moderation causes no interactions with your beloved CBD. In a study published in Psychopharmacology, participants given CBD and alcohol (as opposed to just alcohol) demonstrated significantly lower toxicity levels. So far, the most popular theory explaining this phenomenon involves one of the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, CB1. It is thought that, since CBD actually decreases CB1 receptor activity and toxicity, that the “alcohol-related behaviors” are associated with CB1. Are your eyes sufficiently crossed yet? Here’s the takeaway: CBD and alcohol interact well together EXCEPT for instances of dependence/binge-drinking. CBD and medication have a slightly more fragile, but easily manageable relationship. Once again, we urge you to always consult a physician with all of your CBD-related questions. As long as dosage falls within a reasonable range, there’s no reason why everybody can’t get along. RESOURCES