As we are hearing more and more about the health benefits that CBD and other cannabinoids can have on the human body in general, we are seeing more and more people who are hoping that it can also help them, giving some more specific benefits for them.
Although there is mounting medical research to show that CBD – or cannabidiol – can be useful to people who are suffering from a range of different illnesses and ailments – from the very mild to very serious, we are still unable to make specific medicinal claims about CBD in the UK.
Whilst doctors are allowed to prescribe medical cannabis for a very limited number of people, that doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t benefit from the properties of CBD.
A bit about CBD
In the world of natural health and botanicals, CBD is a shining star. In fact, people have been taking CBD through cannabis for thousands of years. It was when it was classified as an illegal drug that we saw more limited use of it, but now that the cannabinoids such as CBD can be separated out and thoroughly researched due to changes in laws, we are now beginning to get a glimpse of its full potential.
CBD is one of the chemical compounds – or cannabinoids that is found in the cannabis plant. In the UK, most CBD products are made from the hemp variety of the plant – which is a strain that has been specifically bred to not include THC – the substance in cannabis that can make you high.
In the human body, we have a system called the endocannabinoid system. This system is responsible for regulating some aspects of the body, including:
- Pain relief
- The immune system
- The nervous system
The endocannabinoid system relies on interactions between CB1 and CB2 receptors and endocannabinoids (cannabinoids which are produced naturally by the human body). Scientists believe that when there are deficiencies in these endocannabinoids, we can see health problems arise.
And that’s where CBD comes in.
CBD can also interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, helping to stimulate the endocannabinoid system and make sure that the body is well balanced.
Taking CBD with other Medication
With all the research around the positive benefits of CBD, it is easy to see why people are keen to try CBD to help with how they are feeling. It is important, however, to know that it isn’t always a good idea to take CBD if you are on other medication.
Firstly, it is essential, that if you are thinking about trying CBD, especially if you are taking other medicines, that you speak to your doctor. Although many doctors still don’t know much about CBD, more and more are interested in understanding its health benefits and its potential for the future.
One of the things that CBD does is inhibit the cytochrome P450 enzyme. This is an enzyme which is found in the liver and is involved in metabolising a number of medications. The degree to which CBD can inhibit the P450 enzyme depends on a range of factors, such as how much CBD has been taken, the type of CBD that has been taken (full or broad spectrum CBD or CBD isolate) and your unique personal attributes such as weight and build.
There is a correlation between the amount of CBD that is taken and how much it can affect the metabolization of certain medications. Generally, the more CBD that is taken, the higher the impact. This doesn’t mean, however, that it is recommended that you take CBD even at low levels when you are taking certain medications and certainly without consulting your doctor first.
The impact of CBD on medications can vary according to what it is and how it works. To show the effects of CBD on different medications, here are some examples:
Warfarin is an anticoagulant – a drug that is given to people to thin their blood and reduce the risk of clots. It is often given to people after surgery, or to treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism and reduce the risk of strokes in some people.
When CBD is taken, it can reduce warfarin’s enzymatic degradation, meaning that it is broken down more slowly, making its effect higher and last for longer.
Some research shows that CBD can interact with the medication that is prescribed for some people with certain forms of epilepsy. For some people, CBD can augment the levels of plasma as well as the levels of the anti-convulsants – clobazam and norclobazam. With these higher levels in the system, patients can experience more severe side effects than they would if they don’t take CBD.
For people who are undergoing chemotherapy, CBD can be very useful to help them to deal with the side effects. However, this must be very carefully administered by a professional. The process of chemotherapy involves carefully calculated doses of chemicals and the addition of CBD can upset these levels in the bloodstream.
Some of the medications that could potentially be affected by CBD include but are not limited to:
- Angiotensin II blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
- HIV antivirals
- HMG CoA reductase inhibitors
- Immune modulators
- Oral hypoglycemic agents
There are other medications that may also interact with CBD, and this is why it is absolutely essential that you talk to your doctor if you are taking medication and thinking about trying CBD – or vice versa!
We are seeing great progress in our understanding of the medicinal benefits of CBD, which will inevitably see more and more people looking to take advantage of its properties. Whilst this can be a very positive thing for a lot of people, it is crucial that you know how it might affect the other medication that you are taking – and your body as a result.
Just because CBD interacts with certain medications doesn’t mean that it cannot be taken, just that it should be calculated and used with caution.