With potential to ease symptoms in conditions such as fibromyalgia, insomnia, depression and many more, the use of CBD is rapidly rising.
But there’s one resounding question that needs to be taken into consideration before turning to the remedy – is it safe to take with other medication?
Considering the nature of the conditions many medicinal CBD users suffer from – chronic pain, mental health issues and so on – it’s likely they will already be taking prescribed medication to aid their symptoms before branching out into CBD. Therefore, it’s vital to understand the effects these remedies may have on each other.
When you take a medication, your body must metabolise – or break down – the substance. This ‘drug’ metabolism happens throughout various parts of the body, with the gut and liver playing a particularly big part in the breakdown.
In these areas, a family of enzymes called cytochrome P450 (CYP450) converts foreign substances so they can be easily eliminated from our bodies. However, some medications affect CYP450 by either slowing down or speeding up drug metabolism.
So, what does this mean in relation to CBD? This change in metabolism rate can alter how your body processes the medication or supplements – such as CBD – that you take, causing a drug interaction.
It has been found that CBD can interfere with the CYP450 family of enzymes, meaning the system can’t work as effectively to break down the medications in your system. In reverse, if the medication you are taking inhibits the enzymes, then your body will struggle to process the CBD as effectively.
This lack of breakdown can then lead to more medication in your system than intended – even if you take a recommended dose – or not enough of the medication to combat the health issue.
With this in mind, researchers are working to understand interactions and effects of specific medications and CBD.
For example, a study of 25 children with hard-to-treat epilepsy found that when patients were given both clobazam and CBD, there were elevated levels of the clobazam. This led them to conclude that while taking CBD and clobazam at the same time is safe, it’s important to monitor medication levels and any potential side effects.
Similarly, an investigation into adverse drug events (ADEs) between traditional anti-epileptic drugs and CBD found that the effective does of CBD was mostly well tolerated when co-administered with clobazam, stiripentol or valproate in adults, and that ADEs only occurred in patients for which there was no dosage titration.
Another area to consider before adding CBD to your supplement list is the potential ‘doubling-up’ impact it could have on existing side effects. While generally safe, CBD has been known to cause symptoms such as nausea and drowsiness in some users. Therefore, taking this with medications that cause similar symptoms may lead to an enhanced effect.
Ultimately, the consequences of CBD and drug interactions can depend on many factors, including dosage, age, health conditions and more. So, it’s important to consult your doctor or a medical professional if you intend to try CBD.
From there, your doctor should be able to advise whether it’s safe for you to proceed, whether to alter your dosage, and which product is likely to work best for your needs.
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