The Problem of Combining Cannabis Products and Prescription Medicines
The numerous applications of medicinal marijuana have brought up all sorts of questions in recent years. Although the majority of these questions are due to a lack of sufficient clinical evidence regarding the efficacy of some of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, a lot of them also revolve around what will happen if cannabis products are combined with prescription medicines. In this article, I’ll be drilling down on the interactions of cannabis with prescription medications, what it entails, and if any complications can occur. Read on!
Cannabis as a drug
It is no longer news that cannabis is a highly beneficial natural substance. Before we go into its interaction with other drugs, we will look into cannabis as a drug. Cannabis contains different types of beneficial plant molecules such as cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Cannabinoids are the major plant molecules that account for many of the medicinal benefits of cannabis. THC and CBD are two major cannabinoids present in a matrix of over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis. These cannabinoids work through the endocannabinoid system and interact with cannabinoid receptors to negotiate effects in the body.
Cannabis as a drug can be classified as a depressant and stimulant. This is basically in terms of its reaction to the central nervous system. It also plays several roles in dealing with pain, inflammation, mediation of seizures, and dealing with different series of common ailments. This is why it is important that cannabis is seen as a drug and its interactions with other drugs are taken seriously.
Like any other drug, drug-drug interactions between cannabis and other drugs can be antagonistic, synergistic, or be of no effect. Cannabis has the potential to decrease the potency of many drugs it interacts with. Likewise, it has the potential of increasing the effects of some drugs to risky heights that may bring about different types of adverse reactions. Drug.com after analyzing the interaction of cannabis with other drugs stated that 612 common drugs had interactions with cannabis. It should be noted that 129 of these drugs had major interactions with cannabis which vary in effects.
Cannabis and some common prescription medicines
There is a lack of sufficient research when it comes to the extent of the effects of cannabis with many prescription medicines. However, for this article we will use the available works of research to illustrate the expected effects when cannabis is mixed with some prescription medicines.
Antidepressants are used to elevate the mood of patients dealing with depressed states. It is also used by many to deal with anxiety, PTSD, and other mental disorders. There are old classes of antidepressants and newer classes.The newer classes of antidepressants have a lower risk for contraindications in comparison with the older ones that have higher risks. Most drugs do not interact well with antidepressants and cannabis is not an exception.
Wellbutrin is an example of antidepressants commonly prescribed to deal with depression. It belongs to an older class of antidepressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Other common examples of SSRIs are Zoloft, Prozac, and Paxil.This class of antidepressants works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that enhances good feelings in the body. Serotonin is released into the body based on the effect of cannabis. Excess serotonin in the body produces a situation known as Serotonin Syndrome which can have serious consequences. Symptoms include rapid heart rate, dizziness, seizures, nausea, high fever, and gastrointestinal distress.
It is also very risky to combine cannabis with some new classes of antidepressants. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are an older class of antidepressants that are not commonly prescribed. An example is Nardil and they pose a great risk of unhealthy sedative effects when combined with cannabis.
Antipsychotics are a class of mental health medications used to deal with psychotic episodes, delusion, schizophrenia, and different other psychiatric conditions. Examples include Zyprexa, Geodon, and Abilify. The action of antipsychotic drugs depends on a particular class of enzymes known as Cytochrome p450 enzymes. The metabolism of the drugs by these enzymes play a huge role in their effectiveness. CBD is a major beneficial cannabinoid in cannabis which binds to these class of enzymes. The binding of CBD to these drugs make the cytochrome p450 enzymes unavailable to metabolize the antipsychotic drugs. This means that combining antipsychotic drugs with cannabis will promote adverse reactions and affect the therapeutic efficacy of the drug.
Drugs such as Klonopin and Xanax which are used as depressants have negative effects when combined with cannabis. Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines have their effects increased by marijuana with inhibits the proper functioning of the central nervous system. Basic motor skills are inhibited as an effect and impairment of short-term memory also occurs.
The interaction of cannabis and opiate drugs is expected to improve their pain-killing effects. A study into cannabinoids and opiate drugs also showed this effect with no evidence from the study showing an increase in addictive effects of opioids. However, Buprenorphine which is given to patients dependent on opioids to remove withdrawal symptoms has a bad interaction with cannabis. The effect of the interaction results in great respiratory depression which can lead to death.
Tips regarding cannabis and prescription medicines
Speak to a physician
This is very paramount when dealing with prescription medicines and cannabis. Ensure to seek the advice of your physician to know what is safe and what is not.
Take note of effects in your body
Individual variations occur regularly with cannabis, especially when combined with prescription medicines. Ensure that you take note of effects experienced when combining cannabis with other medicines and you relay them to professional hands for proper guidance.
Take your time
The fact that clearance has been given to use a class of drug with cannabis doesn’t mean it should be rushed into. Learn to work your way up slowly and take note of how it affects your body.
Despite the lack of much clinical evidence, it is obvious that caution is a necessity when it comes to combining cannabis with prescription medicines. Cannabis has different compounds with different effects meaning it has a great potential of promoting adverse reactions with many prescribed medicines. This is why informed decisions should be made when it comes to combining cannabis and prescription medicines.
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