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How Does CBD Interact with Medications?

Talk About It Tuesday Blog Series: CBD and Medications

Disclaimer: None of this information is intended as medical advice.  Please always consult with your physician before taking CBD or combing CBD with prescription or over the counter medications.

Many people when first learning about the benefits of CBD do so out of a desire to feel relief from some form of ailment or medical issue.  It is not uncommon for them to be taking one or more prescription and/or over the counter medications.  The question they’re asking is how will CBD react with their medications? Will taking CBD with their medications be harmful to their health?  It’s an understandable question, and with more people than ever taking some sort of pharmaceutical drug, it’s the question we tackle in today’s blog.

21st Century Problems

Our society today is fraught with too much time spent on glowing rectangles, poor quality sleep, and surface level relationships.  Our processed food diets leave us overfed but under nourished.  We are slaves to technology and FOMO (fear of missing out) controls how we live our lives.  This is not how we are meant to live.  How do we combat these poor lifestyle choices?  With drugs of course.

A few years back a study from the Mayo Clinic found nearly 70% of Americans  were taking at least one prescription drug and more than half were taking two.  More recent studies thankfully show the percentage has decreased, albeit not by much.  I believe making better lifestyle choices would solve many of the issues we take medication for.  Things like sleeping 6-8 hours a night, eating real food that grew in the dirt or once breathed air, moving throughout the day and periodically disconnecting from the online world.  You know, things humans did for thousands of years before we had all these health issues.

Common Ailments

This is not to say that medication is not needed.  There are people with serious health conditions in which doctor prescribed medication is a necessity for their well-being.  Some of the most common ailments people take medication for are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, chronic pain and anxiety.  I personally don’t think the answer for each of these is a prescription pharmaceutical, but for those who do take medications for these types of ailments, let’s take a look at how CBD interacts.

CBD and Blood Pressure

Blood pressure medications can have a strong interaction with CBD due to the system of enzymes know as CYP450.  This system breaks down drugs and substances into metabolites (by products of metabolism) so they can enter the bloodstream and be used by our system.  CBD can block these enzymes and allow for more absorption into the bloodstream than intended which can cause you feel more sedated than normal.  For this reason it is not recommended to mix CBD with blood pressure meds.

CBD and Statins

Statins are lipid lowering medications generally prescribed for high cholesterol.  When CBD is metabolized by the body, it can pre-occupy your body’s ability to process the statins causing medicine to remain in your system longer than normal.  This could result in a dangerous level of accumulation and again is not recommended to pair with CBD.

CBD and Antidepressants

Antidepressants produce a calming effect in the body similar to CBD, while increasing your body’s natural endorphins.  Because of this similarity, most antidepressants don’t interact negatively with CBD, however, you should always talk to your doctor before combining CBD with antidepressants to be sure.

CBD and Opioids

Opioids are the most common medication prescribed for chronic or acute pain.  They have been abused tremendously in recent years as evidenced by America’s ongoing opioid crisis. Research is sparse at this point but there is some preliminary evidence that taking CBD with opioids can decrease the need for opioids without side-effects.  Again it is recommended to consult your doctor’s first.

CBD and Antianxiety

Like statins and blood pressure meds, CBD can alter the way your body breaks down antianxiety medications by affecting the enzymes in your gut and liver responsible for breaking down the medication.  Probably the most common of these medications is Xanax, known as a benzodiazepine or “benzo”.  Xanax increases the amount of GABA in the brain, producing calming activity that helps you feel less anxious.  CBD can inhibit these enzymes that would normally destroy much of the Xanax and increase the amount of medication in your bloodstream which can be dangerous.  In this way it’s similar to grapefruit, which is why many prescription drugs contain warnings to avoid grapefruit while taking the medication.


As you can see, taking CBD with prescription medications can play a significant part in how your body metabolizes the medication due to competition of various enzymes responsible for metabolizing (breaking down) the medication.  For this reason, it is always advisable to consult your doctor prior to taking CBD with any medication, especially prescription medication.  As more research is done, we may find that fewer medications are needed and CBD can combat some of these common ailments naturally.  This would be welcome news to millions of Americans looking to break free from expensive pharmaceutical drugs and their inherent side effects.


Read More: CBD and Terpenes

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