There have been several concerns raised recently on various forums with regards to taking CBD with other medications, in particular beta blockers (heart medications, blood thinners and blood pressure tablets). Some users have reported a change in the heart rate and blood pressure when using CBD oil along with these medicines.
So does CBD have any effect on these particular medications? Well the quick answer is yes, it could, but not definitely. We will explain.
Most medicines prescribed for heart conditions and blood pressure are processed through a set of liver enzymes called cytochrome P450, or CYP450. CBD is also processed by the body in a similar way (same enzyme breaks down these). So how does this affect the medication?
To put this in simple terms because the enzymes are now processing two different products it will take longer to break these down and process them. Some initial research has shown that while these enzymes are breaking down the CBD they are also inhibiting the breakdown of your medication. So medications you may be taking may stay in your blood for longer than normal meaning their effects are increased. The result could be like a bit like taking too much of the medication.
If this sounds a little scary don’t get too alarmed. Citrus fruit, especially grapefruit, can also impair how your body absorbs certain drugs. Grapefruit can inhibit the same set of liver enzymes that CBD can inhibit. So, like CBD, grapefruit juice can boost levels of other medications in your blood. This is why some medications state they are not to be taken with grapefruit.
How intensely this all plays out in your body mainly depends on the dosage of both the medication and the CBD that you’re taking. If the concentration of CBD is high enough, it could inhibit the activity of those enzymes, so you could get more of the other drug getting into your system.
On the flip side, very low amounts of CBD don’t seem to have that much of an effect on how well your body processes other medications. But unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough research to determine exactly how much CBD is considered safe.
On the plus side if your medications are staying in your system for longer and having a bigger affect then it may mean you could actually reduce the amount of medication required if you are using CBD. It is best to keep an eye on how your body is adapting to the combination of medications and CBD and adjust each one accordingly. Also have a chat with your GP as they will have access to your medical records in case of any other concerns.
Spacing out Your CBD and Medication
The timing of when you take both the CBD and any other medications can also be a factor in how the drugs may interact in your body. Spacing out doses of medicine does help to reduce the workload on the liver. For example, depending on the half-life of a drug, its ability to inhibit liver enzymes might be diminished after a couple of hours depending on dose, etc., thus liver enzymes could regain sufficient function by the time a second drug is consumed later on.
In other words, the risk of having a serious drug interaction may be lower if you take your medications and CBD at different times of the day.
Responding to CBD
Finally, everyone responds to CBD differently based on their individual endocannabinoid system. Some people may be very sensitive to a particular dosage of CBD, while others may have little to no reaction. Ultimately, how our bodies process CBD and any medication, and the effect it will have, is heavily influenced by genetics, age, body size and of course our endocannabinoid system.
The way you use CBD — whether orally, sublingually or topically — also contributes to the interaction with medication. It all boils down to how much of the substance makes its way to the bloodstream, and this varies based on the method of use.
An IV would provide the most direct route as it’s putting the drug right into your blood although this method is rarely used by general CBD users. Second up, and the most popular amongst users, is using CBD sublingually — underneath the tongue — or inhaling it, followed by eating (or drinking) CBD.
When ingested, CBD has to go through the gastrointestinal system, which reduces some of the absorption in the bloodstream before it makes its way to the liver where those very important enzymes are.
The least potent route is through the skin. The amount of CBD your body absorbs and sends to the bloodstream through the skin is likely negligible. Therefore, chances are low that you’ll experience any sort of interaction with your medication when using CBD topically, like through a lotion or balm.