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CBD Drug Interactions: Which Medications Should You Avoid

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CBD Drug Interactions: Which Medications Should You Avoid

Next to CBD and the benefits that can help treat a long list of medical disorders, the other thing that has driven its popularity is its low risk for causing side effects. In fact, research shows CBD can be so safely used that it has the potential to replace other drugs typically used to manage pain, inflammation, anxiety, and on. In fact, in the case of certain epilepsy disorders, there are even times when CBD is the only thing that truly helps. None of this isn’t saying that using CBD doesn’t carry along minor side effects, which we will discuss in more detail later on.

While generally noted for its low side-effect profile, research shows CBD does have one significant side effect of note. And that is the potential for it to interact with certain prescription drugs that are metabolized by a family of enzymes. Known as Cytochrome P450, these enzymes, in particular, CYPA4, are responsible for breaking down about 60 percent of clinically prescribed medications. 

While this news jumps out to many as incredibly alarming, it’s not uncommon for foods, supplements, and common medications themselves to inhibit CYP enzymes, causing drug interactions. Grapefruit, St. John’s wort, and kale can all cause drug interactions by inhibiting the same enzymes CBD products can. Then foods such as broccoli, spices like cumin, and drinks like coffee can all interact with the medication we take.

Because many of these are common items in a human’s diet, one way to quickly find out if CBD could interact with the medications you're taking is to look on the drugs' label for warnings about eating certain foods, in particular, grapefruit. This isn't so easy with medications for our pets, however.

But that's why we are here to help. Because including CBD in our dogs and cats' health regime is a great way to give them the health they deserve. The therapeutic effects of CBD are countless, and we will be covering the main health benefits in addition to advising you on how to safely use CBD alongside other medications.

CBD drug interactions

What Happens When CBD Inhibits The Cytochrome P450 System?

By temporarily inhibiting cytochrome P450 enzymes, CBD along with the other cannabinoids found in all cannabis plants are able to delay the rate they break down their intended medication.

The metabolism rate of a drug is quite important for several reasons and must be known before an appropriate dosage can be prescribed. By delaying a drug's metabolism rate, CBD can allow for too much medication to be in your system at once. And in essence, by raising the drug’s potency, this acts as if you took a higher dosage of that drug than normal. By effectively raising the dosage, you’re often increasing the risk for the said drug to cause side effects.

Research on the significance CBD can interact with other medications is still heavily being looked into, and discussed below. Anecdotally, we know that both marijuana and hemp products are commonly used alongside other medications. As we know, there is no great worry in the marijuana community at large about their use interacting with their prescribed medication. The same can't be said when it comes to the side effects to memory and motor control due to the high amounts of THC found in these plants.

We can theorize from this, that while cannabis products can cause drug interactions and it is not something to take lightly, it's not significant enough by large to cause a great concern amongst its users. It is important to note that Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), limited to 0.3% in CBD products vs 20%+ in marijuana is heavily involved in inhibiting CYP enzymes.  Both CBD and THC are metabolized by CYP3A4 while THC is also metabolized by CYP2C9 and CBD by CYP2C19. From what we currently know, the less CYP are enzymes inhibited, the less chance it can interact with other medications. Along with its inability to cause a high, along with being available for kids and pets, this is another reason CBD oil may be the preferable choice vs medical marijuana.

However, don’t let this trick you into thinking that there isn’t good evidence that we shouldn't be concerned about it. We have studies that show evidence of CBD itself raising the potency of blood-thinning medication along with seizure medication, causing a higher occurrence of side effects vs. the control groups.

How to use CBD and other medications safely?

Using CBD Safely With Other Medication

While CBD and other CBD products have the ability to interact with around 60% of prescribed medication, there are several ways to safely use CBD in conjunction with other medications.

First, never stop giving your pet medication prescribed by your veterinarian until you've consulted them. This goes for medication that may have a potential interaction with CBD and medication that doesn’t.

From starting CBD off at a lower dose than normal to timing out when CBD should be given to allow for the prescription drug to break down first, there are lots of little things that you can do to improve the safety of CBD. Your veterinarian can help you with these. As well, they can monitor blood plasma levels to ensure your pet's medication is being properly metabolized or if it could do for a dosage adjustment.

There are times when CBD is touted for its ability to lower the reliance or dosage of prescription medication. One reason this happens is that CBD offers its own benefits. But the other reason we speculate this happens is that CBD may be raising the potency of the other medication in the body.

Last, even in the rare case your pet can’t ingest CBD due to a drug interaction, all hope of ever giving them CBD isn’t lost. The beneficial compounds found in CBD, and in hemp and cannabis products can be administered topically. CBD lotions, salves, and creams are great for help with surface-level aches and pain, skin breakout, inflammation, and more, These do this by avoiding entering the bloodstream, largely preventing CBD from interacting with Cytochrome p450 enzymes.

The skin is the largest organ and the first level of defense against nasties that can put severe stress on the body. Including CBD and hemp in your pet's skincare regime is a great way to care for their general health.

Side Effects Of CBD

Without a doubt, the biggest and in most cases, the only side effect that comes from using CBD is its ability to interact with other medications. However, there are some minor side effects to be aware of. In most cases, these side effects occur when too large of a dose is given. CBD has a biphasic effect where low and common dosages can put a slight pip in your pet’s step. However, give your dog or cat too much, and you may find them catching some heavy Zzzz’s on the couch.

Another side effect of CBD, along with other cannabis products, is dry mouth. CB1 and CB2 receptors which make up the endocannabinoid system — the system cannabis largely interacts with — are found heavily in the mouth where they help regulate saliva production. But by the same token, the opposite of dry mouth can happen, and CBD may temporarily boost saliva product/release. CB1 receptors are overstimulated with high-THC products like marijuana. Because there are only trace amounts of it in CBD products, issues like dry mouth are much less commonly seen.

High doses of CBD can lower resting blood pressure causing some lightheadedness, which should quickly pass. One 2017 study found the potential for CBD to help lower blood pressure in those with high blood pressure.

Nausea and stomach discomfort are frequently cited side effects seen with nearly every medication. This especially happens when first starting a medication due to the body needing to take time to realize it’s not a threat or allergy. The same can happen with CBD, despite it usually having adverse effects and helping with nausea and stomach discomfort. Changing the dosage while the body learns to recognize CBD can help. Usually, a lower than normal dose for a few days to a week is a great course of action for this side effect.

CBD Oil is safe and has no lethal side effects

What Research Says

Research on CBD, and cannabidiol itself, and the potential for drug interactions so far has been a bit of a mixed bag. Some researchers have found a low dose of CBD is effective enough in avoiding interactions with the drugs they were studying. While other researchers have found a precise dosage - that can be either low or high - is preferable and dependent on the patients' and their medications. So how do we interpret this data?

First, the big thing that comes from the studies we have found is while CBD can cause interactions with the medication we take, studies still find CBD is a safe and effective treatment. With simple monitoring and potential adjustments in the dosage, there is little risk to continue using CBD. This is awesome news!

The reason a low dose usually works, but not always for avoiding a drug's side effects is likely due to the individual cytochrome that's responsible for the metabolism of the drug. Researchers have found CBD can both speed up and slow down the metabolism rate depending on the drug and the cytochrome it interacts with. Again, while there is some risk with CBD, when given the appropriate care, the data shows CBD is very low risk.

Clinical trials show care and safety should be given in the case of epilepsy because while CBD can significantly help seizures, they can easily interact with seizure medications increasing their side effects, which can produce seizures of their own. However, again, researchers have found CBD and seizure medications can be used together with a smart medical treatment plan.  In fact, epilepsy is currently the only thing the FDA has approved the use of CBD for.

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning CBD and Drug Interactions

We hope our article has provided you with all the information you need when deciding if CBD is something you should give to your pet. Especially if they are already on medications. Because we’ve taken such an extensive look at CBD and its potential for causing a drug interaction, we wanted to quickly answer some of the most asked questions concerning the topic. 

Can You Take CBD With Medication?

In the large majority of cases, CBD can safely be used with most medications. Using CBD in tandem with over-the-counter medications warrants little to no concern. If using an OTC drug long-term or at a higher than normal dosage due to medical advice from your doctor or vet, please consult said authority before using a CBD product. While a CBD product has the potential to cause drug-drug interplay in about 60% of prescription drugs, for the most part, with the proper medical advice and guidance, CBD can be safely used.

What Meds Does CBD Interact With?

CBD has been shown to interact with blood-thinning drugs like Warfarin, raising abnormal liver enzymes along with inducing tiredness when used in conjunction with Valproic Acid - sometimes used for controlling seizures. This information comes from research on Epidiolex, an FDA-approved cannabis extract for help with epilepsy. Epidiolex is an isolate, meaning it only contains the single cannabinoid, cannabidiol, in very high amounts. Most CBD products aren't a single cannabinoid but contain the full range including high amounts of cannabidiol.

For a full list of potential drug interactions, please see our list at the end of the article.

Can CBD Interfere With Arthritis Medications?

In the large majority of cases, it’s very unlikely CBD would interfere with the metabolism of drugs used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory joint disorders. For help with pain and joint issues, veterinarians commonly prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are safe for dogs. Except for diclofenac, it appears CBD will not have a drug-drug interaction with an NSAID drug. While NSAIDs are commonly given to dogs, the over-the-counter medications we commonly take - like Ibuprofen - should only be given to your dog under the supervision of your vet due to their ability to easily pass the safety threshold in dogs.  

Does CBD Interfere With Blood Pressure Medicine?

While high blood pressure and hypertension occur in humans more, our dogs are susceptible to the disease and put on similar medications, as well. Because CBD can lower blood pressure and potentially help those with hypertension, it can seem like a good idea to use it in conjunction with drugs designed to do the same, but caution is advised. While CBD can be used in tandem with blood pressure medications, it's recommended you discuss it with your veterinarian first.  

There are several medications used to treat high blood pressure, including angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor antagonists (ARBs), diuretics, and calcium channel blockers. Because of this, if your vet finds they like what CBD is offering your pet, but they see it interacting with their medication, they have the option to switch to a different medication.

Has CBD Ever Caused A Life-Threatening Drug Interaction?  

To the best of our knowledge and thorough research, we can not find an example of CBD or any cannabis product causing life-treating drug interactions.

Again, this should not make you disregard potential drug interactions. Instead, we are simply saying that while cannabis can cause such, it's frequently used alongside other medications, often without the guidance of a health provider, yet for whatever reasons, a crisis has not occurred. 

Discussing CBD And Drug Interactions With Your Vet

CBD has a world of therapeutic benefits that can improve our pets' health in both small and big ways. Backed by research, CBD oil and other CBD products have been shown to be extraordinarily low-risk options for the benefits it has. However, while you can use CBD in tandem with other medications, there is a chance for an interaction that can increase the risk of the drug causing side effects. Interactions cannot happen with all drugs, but a majority of prescription medications (about 60%) have potential. This includes medication commonly used to treat epilepsy, for which CBD is commonly used to help as well.

If your dog or cat is on medication, and you're concerned about CBD and its potential for drug interactions, your best bet for advice is their vet. While CBD may interact with medications your pet is on, your vet can safely assess if CBD is still the correct choice for them. Often timing out the dosages or changing the dose of CBD or the other medications can allow them to be used together for the best of both worlds.

With proper care, current research indicates CBD can offer a treatment plan an irreplaceable tool for improving health without causing serious adverse side effects, even when there is potential for a drug interaction.

List of interactions CBD and Medicines/Drugs

List Of Known Drugs CBD Interacts With

If either you or your pet is on one or more of the medications listed below, please consult the appropriate medical professional before using CBD. Just because a medication is listed below does not indicate that it can never be used in conjunction with CBD or another cannabis product. Nor does it mean you will personally see drug interactions or side effects from them. Instead, it simply means there is potential for an interaction that you should be aware of. 

Our aim for this list is to give a comprehensive reference point. However, there is always the chance we could have missed some medications. As well, there are studies and clinical trials dedicated to the research of CBD and drug interactions currently in operations that could change our list.


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