Taking cannabis is an effective medicine by itself, and it does complement many pharmaceuticals in some cases. However, taking pharma drugs with cannabis is not always the best idea. It is imperative that patients understand the potential side effects of specific pharmaceutical drugs, as well as any complications they may cause when interacting with marijuana.
For some patients, cannabis helps to manage the side effects of certain pharmaceuticals more effectively. For others, using marijuana could reduce the dosage requirements of some medications. Every person is unique. Cannabis affects everyone differently. Pharma drugs affect people differently. Effects of mixing the two will depend on the person’s age, medical condition, general health, and more.
Some pharmaceuticals are highly compatible with marijuana, which means they work well together. Others are not. Patients must know that consuming any pharmaceutical cocktails can be dangerous and that taking cannabis with it could have detrimental side effects. Without further ado, here are some reported interactions between marijuana and a few common pharma drugs:
Taking Cannabis with Tranquilizers
The effects of mixing marijuana and opiates are addictive. This means that both substances amplify the depression of the central nervous system. Because the central nervous system controls respiration and heart rates, simultaneous depression from both substances could actually cause death. For this reason, patients must consult with their doctors to lower opiate dosages while using marijuana.
Weed also intensifies the effects of tranquilizers and sedatives. These medications also depress the central nervous system by increasing GABA neurotransmitter activity, which acts as a relaxant. Furthermore, antihistamines used for allergies can cause drowsiness, such as diphenhydramine, loratadine, fexofenadine, and other medications.
When mixed with cannabis, it can potentiate drowsiness and may cause tachycardia.
Taking Cannabis with Blood Pressure Drugs
Modern medicine treats hypertension, or high blood pressure, with anti-hypertensives. Some marijuana strains decrease the effects of these prescription drugs. Cannabinoid molecules in Sativa strains particularly may increase blood pressure temporarily. Those using antihypertensive medications must monitor their blood pressure regularly when taking marijuana simultaneously.
Mixing cannabinoids with stimulants can lead to tachycardia. Anyone taking heart medications must observe their individual responses to mixing it with cannabis and monitor them obsessively. Marijuana also makes it easy for the body to metabolize certain drugs used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, which are similar in many ways to caffeine, such as theophylline.
Patients using cannabis with blood pressure drugs should adjust either dosage or frequency of administration since combining them can lead to tachycardia, hypertension, and heart palpitations.
Taking Cannabis with Antidepressants
Negative side effects are common among patients mixing marijuana with pharmaceutical antidepressants. Most antidepressants, including Prozac, Zoloft, and others, work by increasing serotonin levels throughout the body. However, some studies indicate that marijuana has an opposite effect: It causes serotonin levels to drop.
Serotonin syndrome is a condition caused by taking too many antidepressants. It happens when serotonin levels are higher than they should be. In many cases, the effects of serotonin syndrome can be debilitating and potentially level. Patients shiver and sweat and they suffer anxiety, nausea, tremors, diarrhea, headaches and more.
Although science does not know the full effects of marijuana on serotonin syndrome, there is sufficient evidence showing the impact of cannabinoids on serotonin. This is why it is important to be very careful when combining these two substances. Certain cannabis compounds can also influence the way the body metabolizes antidepressants, which has additive effects and can increase serotonin syndrome risk.
Taking Cannabis with Blood Thinners
Warfarin and other blood thinning pharma drugs can have additive effects when consumed with marijuana. Studies show that THC levels in marijuana can displace blood thinners from protein binding sites, which reduces their effectiveness significantly. Any patient on warfarin or similar drugs should discuss reducing their dosages if they want to use marijuana as part of their treatment.
Taking Cannabis with Diabetic or Blood Sugar Drugs
Plenty of evidence exists showing how cannabis improves metabolic processes and has an extremely therapeutic effect on blood sugar control overall. For this reason, many diabetics use marijuana to help treat and manage their condition. Although studies prove that cannabis treats diabetes and reduces obesity, we do not know much about the effects of cannabinoids on insulin and blood sugar drugs.
While it may seem likely that marijuana would work well with diabetes and insulin medications, there is an extremely high risk that they would lower blood sugar levels too much when used together.
Taking Cannabis with Opioids
Anyone with plans to use marijuana and opioids together should cut reduce their opioid dosages. Cannabinoids actively interact with opioids. According to various studies, combining opioids and cannabis can decrease pain and lower the need for more painkillers. However, it remains vitally important to monitor personal effects when using both together.
If any of your opioid drugs contain buprenorphine, which most do, then it is especially wise to practice caution. Buprenorphine is an additive that depresses the central nervous system, and adding cannabis to the mix can make breathing difficult. Other potential side effects of mixing weed and opioids include dizziness, impaired motor coordination, sedation, and confusion.
Taking Pharma Drugs with Marijuana
In most cases, combining marijuana and prescription drugs is safe to do. However, always remember that the marijuana plant contains hundreds of different molecules that can interact, both negatively and positively, with any pharmaceuticals that you take. This field requires more research. Since all patients react differently, the issue is complicated and in need of detailed study.