Can you use CBD whilst taking medication?
Is CBD medicinal?
At Vitality CBD, due to the UK regulations we can’t make any medicinal claims about CBD. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t consider the health and safety implications of taking cannabidiol.
Despite not being sold as a medicinal product, due to the way CBD interacts with the human body you still need to evaluate whether it might inhibit other medication you’re taking. The first port of call in this instance should always be asking your GP, but we’ve broken down the core science behind your biological balance.
How CBD interacts with the body
When using CBD, whether it’s vaping, using oral oils or locally applying it, the way it interacts with the body is largely the same. Whilst CBD is a cannabinoid produced within the hemp plant (more on that here) the human body already has a network of internally produced cannabinoids and receptors known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Since there is already a system in place within your body producing cannabinoids, CBD acts as an analog for these pre-existing endocannabinoids. This means that the receptors found throughout the ECS are the primary point at which CBD binds to and impacts the body. Think of CBD as a cut key that mirrors the shape of the body’s cannabinoids, and the ECS receptors as keyholes.
This system is the key to understanding how our body processes CBD. Like other compounds, including your medicine, CBD interacts with receptors throughout the body, before eventually being metabolised and eliminated. Since the body is a careful balance of chemicals and cannabinoids, introducing CBD alongside your medication can lead to them affecting each other.
For more on the endocannabinoid system, read our full guide here.
How medications interact
It’s important to understand that the nature of human biology and chemical compounds that virtually any two substances you introduce simultaneously to your body will interact in some way with one another.
The two most common interactions that occur are a) when substances with a similar purpose compound the effects of one another, and b) when one substance limits the impact of another due to their both interacting with the same receptor.
The former can end up causing an end result which is greatly inflated, making the dosage much harder to predict, whilst the latter can lead to increased dosages due to a perception that the medication isn’t having its desired effect. In both instances there are potentially harmful ramifications.
That being said, we need to focus on the potential effects of CBD specifically.
How does CBD interact with medication?
As mentioned already, since CBD binds to the receptors found throughout the ECS there’s the potential that other substances may be limited if they attempt to bind to the same receptors. However, the most significant manner in which CBD potentially impacts the body’s ability to metabolise other compounds is by inhibiting the activity of cytochrome P450.
Cytochrome P450, other than sounding like something from Star Trek, is actually a group of liver enzymes that are responsible for the process of breaking down drugs and toxins. Since CBD has been known to inhibit P450, that means that how certain medications are metabolised can also be altered.
By inhibiting the production of P450, the most widespread effect is that certain drugs and medication will linger in the bloodstream longer. Since this is difficult to predict with any precision, it’s best to check with your doctor about any potential interactions.
CBD and grapefruit
To get an impression of the practical impact of this, the best example to use is (bizarrely) grapefruit. Like CBD, grapefruit naturally inhibits the production of P450 in much the same manner. In fact, you might already be told by your Doctor or on warning labels to avoid eating grapefruit with your medication.
It's worth noting that a recent clinical study on Sativex (a cannabis-based medicine) showed that up to 50mg CBD daily did not alter the processes of enzymes in the liver. Given recommended dosages largely fall below this line, there's rarely reason to be concerned about your intake.
This puts things in a slightly clearer perspective. Whilst the idea of CBD inhibiting the production of a specific enzyme might initially seem concerning, the similar effects of grapefruit show how introducing any compound into your body ultimately has an impact. The best solution? Read up and make sure you’re informed before introducing CBD into your daily routine.
At Vitality CBD we’re willing to inform you that CBD might not work well with your current medication because we believe an educated choice is best. That’s why we’ve written a series of different articles that each examine the science behind CBD.
If you want to discuss further whether CBD can be used alongside your medication, our experienced team are always on hand to field any questions. Reach out to us on our contact page here.
CBD and your health
In an exhaustive report, the World Health Organization has made a definitive statement on cannabidiol usage:
The evidence from well controlled human experimental research indicates that CBD is not associated with abuse potential.
You can read the full report here.
Whilst CBD has been declared safe for human consumption by the World Health Organization, we recommend you inform your doctor of your CBD intake, as it has the potential to interfere with any medication you may use.