Cannabidiol has gained massive popularity and commercial success as the new wonder wellness product. Due to the increasing popularity and demand for CBD-infused products, scientists are conducting more research into the cannabinoid than ever in history.
Despite the many medical studies focused on the therapeutic benefits of CBD, there has been comparatively little research into the interactions it may have with other types of medications, supplements and even certain foods.
Additionally, we humans all have the audacity to be physiologically unique, and subject to a number of immeasurable genetic and environmental factors. This makes it really difficult to guess how CBD compounds will interact with the medications you might be taking.
Now consider someone already taking multiple medications before they decide to add one or multiple cannabinoids. Each layer of external chemicals ingested and metabolized by our bodies have an interconnected effect on our bodies as well as each other.
It’s not only incredibly confusing – but it’s also potentially dangerous. So, let’s look at what you should be considering.
What is CBD?
Chemically speaking, CBD is a phytocannabinoid compound which is synthesized in Cannabis plants. Unlike the rather infamous THC molecule, CBD is not psychoactive and does not produce the same head-high.
CBD has been successfully tested in treating epilepsy, symptoms of cancer treatments, and Multiple Sclerosis. More research is needed, however, to determine CBDs effectiveness in other types of treatments for conditions such as anxiety and depression, chronic pain and inflammation, dermatological disorders, and neurodegeneration.
Medicinal products which capitalize on CBD’s possible benefits make use of our own Endocannabinoid System, which helps our bodies’ maintain homeostasis. This is the state of natural balance in which all biological processes are working in harmony with each other.
CBD & Human Physiology
Our Endocannabinoid System helps to maintain our body’s state of homeostasis – or internal balance. It monitors and regulates the rest of our bodily functions through cannabinoid receptors located throughout our brains and bodies. These internal systems contribute to our overall health and well-being, including our immunity, mood, hormones and more.
Our endocannabinoid receptors produce our own endocannabinoids through special enzymes found through our Endocannabinoid systems. Since our bodies produce their own endocannabinoids, those synthesized in Hemp plants, known as phytocannabinoids are easily received and metabolized by our bodies. This is why the majority of people who take CBD do not experience significant side effects or dangerous allergic reactions.
Benefits Of CBD Supplements
When ingested or inhaled, phytocannabinoids are metabolized and filtered into the bloodstream by our livers. Once circulating in the blood, the CBD then binds to the endocannabinoid receptors throughout our bodies, generating the feeling of a whole-body effect.
In contrast, when cannabinoids are applied directly to the skin through topical CBD creams and lotions, the compounds bypass our bloodstream completely, therefore concentrating the therapeutic effects to a specific area.
Although there is limited research on the interactions of CBD oil which is metabolised by the body, there is even less medical literature surrounding the interactions of CBD topical products with other forms of medication.
Side Effects Of CBD Oil
Taking any form of medication can either be a success or disaster depending on the following factors:
- Our personal internal physiology
- The health of our immune system
- Personal preference and degree of side effects
- Possible medications to other medications
Although it’s very rare, certain people can be more sensitive to external cannabinoids in their systems and subsequently experience uncomfortable side effects including:
- Shortness of breath
There isn’t a test available to see if you’ll have a reaction to taking CBD, which is why it’s recommended to start with a small dose, before gradually increasing the dosage to see how you respond.
According to the World Health Organisation’s critical report of CBD in 2018, the greatest danger associated with CBD is it’s potential to interact with medications. Unfortunately, there are very few studies which investigate how different types of prescription drugs may interact with CBD.
When researching the individual effects of a compound on our systems, scientists try to eliminate as many factors as possible which might interfere with the study’s results. This makes understanding the interactions between one or many drugs and cannabidiol very difficult to predict between individuals.
CBD Drug Interactions
When we ingest medications or take them under the tongue, the compounds are processed by our digestive systems and are then filtered into our bloodstream through the liver. There is a specific family of liver enzymes known as Cytochrome P450 which are responsible for breaking down more than 60% of potentially toxic compounds.
CBD is what biochemists call a pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic compound. This means that at certain doses CBD products can interfere with the way medications interact with our bodily systems. It can also affect the way the medications behave in our systems.
Pharmacodynamic and Pharmacokinetic Properties Of CBD
The term, pharmacodynamics refers to the physiological effects of ingested medications within our bodies. This means that CBD can affect the way our medications behave in our systems, as well as how the different medications we’re taking might interact with each other.
Conversely, pharmacokinetic processes are those which determine how our bodies metabolise the compounds we ingest. How effectively the chemicals are broken down and absorbed into our bodies. How strongly the medications affect us, and how long they are kept in our systems.
This means that when taken in conjunction with other medications, CBD can either prolong and enhance their effectiveness, or possibly eliminate their effects altogether. This can cause adverse complications or side effects from any of the interacting medications. As well as a possible risk of damaging your liver.
Although there has been a number of clinical studies conducted around the benefits and potential risks of taking CBD, this research has not fully explored the results of combining CBD with other forms of medication.
The more individual medications you take, the more the liver is impacted and unable to effectively break down chemical compounds, so always speak to your doctor about the medications you’re taking before trying any products for CBD.
Medications That Interact With CBD
Currently, there is insufficient research conducted into the interactions between cannabinoids, specifically CBD, and other types of medications which are metabolized by the liver. However, we do know a little about what to avoid.
Below is a list of the general types of medications that are not suitable to be taken in conjunction with CBD products:
- Angiotensin II Blockers
- Anti-Seizure Medication
- Calcium Channel Blockers
- HIV Antivirals
- HMG CoA Reductase Inhibitors (also known as statins)
- Immune Modulators
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
- Oral Hypoglycemic Agents
- Prokinetics (and other motility drugs)
- Proton-Pump Inhibitors
- Steroids and Corticosteroids
It will take a few years, if not longer, for medical literature to catch up to the growing demands of CBD products. If you want to cross-check the possibility of CBD interaction with specific medications, click here.
A Review of CBD Oil and Medical Interactions
People taking multiple medicines at once are considered medically complex patients. General clinical recommendations for such patients would be either to reduce or alter the dose of your prescriptions, close monitoring for adverse drug events and seeking alternative therapy. The risks are high and the data is thin.
Taking any new form of medication, be it pharmaceutical or alternative medicine requires a little bit of research ahead of time. Yes, we all share the same biology. But our individual immune systems, allergens, overall physiological health, and predetermined hereditary traits can all interact with chemical compounds in their own unpredictable way.
Conducting plenty of personal research, consulting with one or multiple doctors, and really introspecting on your personal attitude to a healthy lifestyle – these are important to consider before committing to a new medication.