August 05, 2020 4 min read
Since its legalization in 2018, non-psychoactive Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained widespread attention from both scientists and consumers due to its potential health applications. One the other hand, other parts of the world have been studying CBD for decades.
Even with only a few years of research in the US, CBD has proven useful in reducing seizures in patients with rare forms of epilepsy. It also relieves symptoms of and depression, reduces neuropathic pain and inflammation, and may help fight cancerous cells.
CBD is generally safe and has few to no side effects. However, because of the way your body (specifically drug-metabolizing enzymes in your liver) metabolizes CBD, it can potentially interact with some prescription medications.
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When food enters the body, it has to be broken down into individual compounds. For example, if you eat a piece of pizza, the carbohydrates in the crust will be broken down into sugars. The proteins in the cheese and meat contribute amino acids, and the fats provide triglycerides. With the help of enzymes, the body then transforms these compounds into building blocks and fuel for the body.
Like food, any therapeutic compound that you ingest has to be broken down. This includes CBD and prescription medications.
CBD can change the way your body processes certain medications by either promoting the enzymatic activity or through a competitive inhibitory effect.
The same family of liver enzymes, called CYPs, metabolizes CBD and many prescription medications. Essentially, if there is a competition between CBD and another substance, CBD will take priority and be broken down first.
CBD may influence any therapeutic compound broken down by the CYP family of enzymes. Some drugs may break down more slowly, which could increase side effects or in extreme cases cause an overdose. Other drugs may metabolize more quickly, which makes them less effective.
Your doctor can address both situations by adjusting your dosage and through close monitoring of medication levels in your system. It is always recommended to consult your physician before adding CBD.
One quick way to know that your medication may interact with CBD is the grapefruit warning. Like CBD, grapefruit, Seville oranges, tangelos, and pomelos can disrupt the normal function of CYPs. More than 85 drugs should not be taken with grapefruit juice.
Here are some medications that commonly contain a grapefruit warning or that are likely to interact negatively with CBD:
If you have added CBD to existing medications, symptoms to watch for include drowsiness, nausea, breakthrough seizures, fatigue, or diarrhea.
In the human body, a few different metabolic pathways break down alcohol. One of them is in the same CYP family as the enzymes that process CBD.
For individuals who drink occasionally, other pathways will metabolize the alcohol entirely, and there should be no interaction with CBD.
However, people who drink heavily or chronically are overloading the primary metabolic pathways used to process alcohol. Their bodies will need to use the CYP enzymes in their liver to assist with the overload.
Unlike THC, which interacts with the CB1 receptor to encourage alcohol consumption, CBD has powerful potential applications to fight alcohol addictionand prevent alcohol-induced neurodegeneration.
However, because of the dependence of both substances on the CYP enzymes, it is crucial to be aware and cautious when mixing CBD and alcohol.
Study after study shows CBD is well tolerated and safe to use, while at the same time rarely producing any serious side effects.
People with a spectrum of conditions experience notable benefits from CBD tinctures, oils, and lotions. In a 2019 study, 52 percent of patients with arthritis tried CBD or marijuana, and 93 percent of those said it helped.
However, CBD interacts with many systems in the body and is metabolized by the same liver enzymes as many medications. If you are older, have liver damage, or are taking medicine for a health condition, consult your doctor before adding CBD to your regimen.
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