A drug interaction happens when two or more compounds come in contact with each other and create an effect. Because of its broad range of effects, cannabis can cause a variety of interactions with pharmaceutical drugs.
In this article, we will provide you with a general idea of how cannabis can interact with some of the most common pharmaceutical drugs. Please note though, that this article does not in any way constitute medical advice regarding cannabis and pharmaceutical drugs.
Drug interactions are nothing to play with and can cause lethal consequences. Always speak with your health professional before adding anything to your current medication regimen.
Cannabis and Antidepressants
We still know very little about the interactions between cannabis and antidepressants (pharmaceutical drugs), as few studies have taken place. A big part of the reason for this is the fact that we are all unique. You can give two people the same strain and antidepressant and get two completely different reactions. Plus, each strain can contain a completely different blend of cannabinoids and terpenes. It’s hard to say how each person will react.
There have been a few studies done on treating depression with cannabis and the results were mostly positive. The benefit that most people found was being able to use cannabis to treat depression as the moment called for it. As antidepressants are usually taken once in the day, cannabis can be used as a breakthrough booster.
Cannabis Interaction with Sedatives
Sedatives work by slowing down the mechanisms in the central nervous system and cannabis affects these same receptors. Because of this, using cannabis can increase the effects of sedatives. In fact, there have been some studies that show that regular cannabis users often require more medication for sedation in the operating room. If you are taking sedatives and are thinking about using cannabis, be sure to start off very slowly in a comfortable environment.
Because the endocannabinoid system regulates our pain receptors, cannabis can increase the effects of painkillers. Cannabis targets our CB1 and CB2 receptors which in turn send messages to our opiate receptors. Depending on the person and the circumstances, this can be both desirable and highly dangerous.
Pros of Including Cannabis with Painkiller Pharmaceutical Drugs:
- Pain and anxiety can be relieved using lower doses of pharmaceuticals.
- With a broad range of therapeutic effects, cannabis can relieve some of the negative side effects associated with prescription pain killers. By indirectly targeting an overstimulated receptor, cannabis can be an effective treatment for opiate withdrawal.
Cons of Including Cannabis with Painkiller Pharmaceutical Drugs:
- In some cases, combining these medications with cannabis can lead to drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
Important tip – When it comes to using cannabis with painkillers, the key to success is to be sure of your dose. Start slowly and test the effect by using far less than you normally would. After all, you can always take more.
There is not much research on the interaction between cannabis and stimulants. From what we do know, it appears that these substances work in harmony with each other and one negates the side effects of using the other. Stimulants are used to treat conditions such as ADD, ADHD, and narcolepsy but can have side effects like anxiety, agitation, and increased blood pressure.
Cannabis can relax the system but can result in fatigue and brain fog. Cannabis helps to take the edge off of stimulants while the stimulants reduce fatigue and brain fog. However, there is a potential for danger here. Individually, both of these substances increase your heart rate. Using them together can magnify this effect and create serious cardiovascular risk.
Blood pressure medications
Cannabis causes a vasodilation effect and as the veins open up, blood pressure drops. The heart has to work harder to pump blood resulting in an increased heart rate. Because of these effects, we can say that cannabis lowers blood pressure (but keep in mind, this is still a generalization). Studies have shown that body positioning, cannabinoid content, and physiology all change our blood pressure. Until we have more data from human studies, approach cannabis and blood pressure medication slowly.
Cannabis and High Blood Pressure Pharmaceutical Drugs:
Cannabis can help reduce high blood pressure but it’s commonly used to treat some of the negative side effects that come from those medications. It should not be used to replace high blood pressure medication without proper supervision from a doctor.
Cannabis and Low Blood Pressure Pharmaceutical Drugs:
Based on the effects, we can assume that using cannabis can exacerbate low blood pressure—but the truth is we don’t know. If you are treating this condition with medication, talk to your doctor before trying cannabis.
There are countless combinations that cause an interaction, be it positive or negative. Plants are no exception because herbs can be very powerful, especially cannabis. If you are using a pharmaceutical medication, you should know that it could interact with cannabis and have an idea of what to expect. Talk to your doctor because after all, not every drug interaction is a bad thing.