Wellness and Research

Cannabinoids May Interact with Prescribed Drugs

Written by Paul James

Cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), have seen a huge increase in popularity over the last decade. While this is partly due to legalization measures changing, much of the population seeks out natural alternatives over prescription medication.

Unfortunately, this change in public perception has allowed for a lot of misinformation to spread. The biggest reason for misinformation is a lack of research out there concerning cannabis and its many cannabinoids.

A group of researchers out of Penn State College of Medicine, through the journal Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, have developed a list of prescription medications that may have negative interactions with cannabis (medical and recreational), CBD products, and other cannabinoids.

As the researchers note, one of the biggest issues with the cannabis industry is the fact that there are a number of products out there that go unregulated. With that, some individuals may find themselves consuming toxins, such as we saw with last year’s vape epidemic. However, it could also mean faulty labeling.

A recent report published by the FDA discovered that a large amount of CBD products on the market don’t actually contain advertised cannabinoid levels. The problem with this is people don’t actually know what’s going into their bodies. And, with the latest research from Penn State, this could have health consequences that before went unseen.

Some of the medications that had interactions include:

  • Antidepressants (including amitriptyline, clomipramine, and lofepramine)
  • Blood thinners (including acenocoumarol and warfarin)
  • Oral contraceptives (including ethinylestradiol)
  • Opioid pain medications (including fentanyl)
  • Thyroid hormones (including levothyroxine)
  • Sedatives (including propofol)

For a full list of the medications and their reaction to cannabinoids, feel free to visit the Penn State website for more information.

57 of the prescription drugs observed on this list were found to have a narrow therapeutic index. In other words, there’s a small space between a therapeutic dose and a toxic dose in terms of cannabinoid and prescription interaction.

The same research group published another 139 medicines that have similar interactions with cannabinoids with a lower risk.

The most common side effects the researchers found when mixing cannabinoids with prescription drugs are:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation

However, the researchers also warn of the fact that these chemical interactions have the potential to change blood pressure and heart rhythm. While this may not always provide severe complications in the short-term, it could have serious cardiac risks in the long-term.

The researchers highly recommend individuals consult their doctor before combining cannabinoids with any prescription medication. As they note:

“The drug-drug interaction information from medical cannabinoids may be useful as medical professionals consider the potential impact of over-the-counter or illicit cannabinoid products.”

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/nss2eRzQwgw

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Paul James

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