Trying CBD Safely While Taking Medications

With 1 in 7 adults in the U.S. using CBD products, CBD is increasingly gaining attention across the country. Even more, many CBD users claim that it has therapeutic benefits for mental and physical ailments.

There has been an increase in CBD-infused products in the market since the government legalized hemp. These products include infused drinks, food items, creams, tinctures, and oils. Some contain CBD extracted from hemp, a cannabis plant with low levels of the psychoactive THC.

One of the concerns most users have is trying CBD safely while taking medications, since CBD interacts differently with various medications. If you are considering trying CBD with other medications, read on to learn what you should know.

hand holding another hand

Understanding Drug Metabolism in the Body

To get a picture of how CBD interacts with medications, it’s important to understand drug metabolism. Your body has to metabolize any substance taken in. And during this process, the substance is broken down throughout the body in organs such as the gut and liver.

The drug metabolism process, particularly, relies on a group of enzymes known as CYP450. These enzymes help convert foreign substances to make it easier to eliminate them from the body.

Certain medications affect the CYP450 enzymes by speeding up or slowing metabolism. Any changes in the metabolism rates determine how the body deals with medications.

The Metabolism of CBD and Medications

The CYP450 enzymes play a part in the metabolism of several cannabinoids, CBD included. Notably, the CYP3A4 enzyme, which is part of the CYP450 group, handles this task.

Thanks to the CYP3A4 enzyme, nearly 60 percent of oral clinical prescriptions are metabolized. However, if CBD interferes with this enzyme, it won't be as effective in breaking down the medications in the body.

Even more, some medications can interfere with CYP3A4. This means your body won't effectively process CBD when taking these medications.

And when your body metabolizes the medication too slowly, you're likely to have more than what is intended at one time. As a result, the increased medication levels in the body might exaggerate the side effects.

Some oral clinical prescriptions can speed up the work of the CYP450 enzymes. However, this may lead to an insufficient amount of medication in the body at one given time.

How to Try CBD Safely with Medications

Luckily, there are various ways to take CBD with medications safely. They may help if you're looking to use CBD as an add-on treatment to ease certain symptoms. Either way, consult with your doctor about this choice first.

Your doctor may help you choose a safe product (like CBD tinctures), a dose, and a schedule that goes with your medications. They may also monitor your blood plasma levels when taking certain medications. Unless your physician advises you to do so, you shouldn't stop taking your medications when trying CBD.

Remember that topical CBD-infused products like salves, creams, and lotions are also a great option. This is because they aren't absorbed in the blood, unlike CBD-infused vaping solutions, edibles, and oils.

Is CBD Safe When Taking Medication? When to Avoid

More research is being done on the possible CBD drug interactions. In the meantime, the general rule is to avoid taking CBD with medications that come with a grapefruit warning.

The grapefruit warning cautions people about taking certain medications with grapefruit or grapefruit juice. According to the FDA, taking grapefruit with various medications could result in higher concentrations of the substance in your system. This could even cause adverse side effects or an overdose.

Over 85 drugs have been found to react to grapefruit and citrus juices from tangelos, pomelos, and oranges. This is because grapefruit contains furanocoumarins, which are chemicals that inhibit the CYP3A4 enzyme. In turn, the chemical slows down drug metabolism.

Types of Medications That Don’t Go Well With CBD

Medications with grapefruit warnings require you to avoid grapefruit when taking them. It’s, therefore, crucial to check the insert information on the medication for the warning or consult with your doctor. Either way, here are some categories of drugs that have a grapefruit warning:

  • Anticancer medications

  • Antimicrobials and antibiotics

  • Antiepileptic drugs

  • Antihistamines

  • Blood thinners

  • Blood pressure medications

  • Corticosteroids

  • Cholesterol medications

  • Erectile dysfunction medications

  • Heart rhythm medications

  • Immunosuppressants

  • Medications used to treat mood disorders, depression, or anxiety

  • Medications used to treat nausea or GERD

  • Prostate medications

  • Pain medications

Safety Measures to Observe

You should only try CBD wh