How CBD Affects Medicine

Disclaimer: CBD is evolving in research and there is more that is needed to see the health benefits and dangers that CBD has when interacted with other medications. We are not giving any medical advice, and any questions regarding your medications should be given to your physician. The purpose of this article is to give information only. We are not claiming CBD treats or cures any of the ailments discussed.

The Entourage Effect

Alternative medicine and cannabis enthusiasts alike understand the full benefits that come along with cannabis and hemp. Modern advancements in medicine are allowing us to isolate and extract specific compounds away from the full spectrum benefits each of the plants give. While this is certainly an efficient route for those who want CBD/THC isolates, it actually inhibits the full potential that the plants have.

People will frequently try out THC extracts and instead prefer using the entire plant for its additional compounds and effects. In the cannabis plant, there are over eighty-five cannabinoids that all work together far more efficiently with THC than an isolate would. This goes for both CBD and THC, as a balanced ratio has been shown to increase pain relief and relaxation. The reason for this boost is due to the entourage effect.

The entourage effect is the synergistic boost that certain cannabinoids have when used in combination with the other cannabinoids. Research is showing that specifically bred strains with very high THC count and low CBD count have far fewer health benefits. This includes pain relief, nausea, insomnia, and much more. Hemp, on the other hand, is higher in CBD than that of its cannabis cousin, which mainly contains THC. While both have health benefits, hemp will not have any “high” effect, and instead, give just the health benefits that people seek. CBD regulates metabolism in many ways and also does this to THC. Essentially, the plant works best when it is entirely used together. However, this is not always a realistic option due to laws, cultivation processes, and weather conditions.

CBD has been shown to increase the effectiveness of some drugs. Even certain chemotherapies have been shown to have much better results when combined with CBD. CBD reduced nausea as well as the loss of appetite. In fact, a study that was published in 2018 showed that mice with pancreatic cancer had tripled survival rates when using CBD.

Chemotherapy is the main strategy that is used to fight cancer, but when CBD is also used, the reproduction rate of cancer cells is decreased significantly, another study found.

What About Other Interactions?

Metabolism obviously is a big role in taking medications. An enzyme in the liver called cytochrome P450 metabolizes CBD as well as many other pharmaceutical drugs. The problem here with CBD is that it takes the full attention from this enzyme, and is metabolized instead of other drugs. This means that CBD takes priority among other drugs, which could be dangerous. If someone is taking prescribed pain medications like Oxycodone, Vicodin, etc, and takes CBD, the pain medications will stay in the system longer than intended. These drugs are designed to be metabolized during a specific time period, and if this is changed, they may experience the side effects of them, like nausea and drowsiness. Prolonged use of CBD and pain meds can even damage the liver. Elderly people who have used alcohol or other drugs extensively should also take caution.

Because the liver metabolizes CBD first, any other drug metabolized by the liver will be affected in some way. Some studies show that CBD allows the patient to use certain drugs in lower dosages, which can be extremely useful for some.

This is a small list of some drugs that use CYP450 to metabolize, according to Indiana University School of Medicine.

  • Antibiotics
  • Anesthetics
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-epileptics
  • Steroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Prokinetics
  • HIV antivirals
  • Immune modulators
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antiarrhythmics

Anticonvulsant Drugs

A study in 2015 studied the effect of CBD on children with epilepsy who use Clobazam. Common side effects include nausea, insomnia, vomiting, fever, and more. Decreasing the dosage on certain drugs like this could mean less severe side effects.

Alcohol and CBD

Research has shown that alcohol may increase THC levels when used together. This may serve a big problem for those who are on medications, and shouldn’t use alcohol. However, CBD has been shown to decrease relapses in drug addiction. When used with alcohol, CBD has reduced the reinforcement of addiction, protected liver damage from binge-drinking, prevented neurodegeneration, and even BAC.

Caffeine and CBD

CBD and caffeine actually work on the brain very similarly. Caffeine binds to A2a receptors which can stimulate alertness. CBD also works with these receptors, and combining the two is a great way to boost the effects of coffee.


There is still a lot of research that is needed to understand how CBD interacts with all types of medicine, rather than the vast amount that uses the CYP450 enzyme. Because so many medications rely on this enzyme, CBD should carefully be researched and reviewed. However, CBD is becoming a promising element in the medical field every day with its growing research. Remember to ask your physician if they think that CBD could help your medications.

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