CBD and Drug Interactions

In 2017, the World Health Organization established that cannabidiol (CBD) is generally well tolerated and carries a good safety profile. Even more, the WHO noted that CBD has no potential for abuse or dependence. But these encouraging findings don’t mean CBD users should dose without discretion.

CBD can affect how prescription drugs work within the body. This potential for drug interactions can turn prescription medicine’s precise schedule into a guessing game. However, with proper education, many prescription drug patients can safely implement CBD into their health regimen.

Just about anything we put in our body will eventually be processed by liver. As the body’s filter, the liver uses a slew of enzymes to remove toxins and regulate chemical levels in the blood. One of these enzymes in particular, cytochrome P450, plays a critical role in CBD and drug interactions.

Cytochrome P450 is in charge of oxidizing drugs, which means it adds an oxygen atom to the drug’s molecular structure. This makes the compound water soluble and easier for the kidneys to remove. About 60% of prescription medicine is metabolized by cytochrome CYP450, and the enzyme system is also in charge of metabolizing CBD. Even though CYP450 can process both prescription drugs and CBD, it can’t do so simultaneously.

If CBD is taken near the same time as this type of prescription medication, it can function as a competitive inhibitor of CYP450 and temporarily deactivate the liver enzyme's work on the pharmaceutical drug. Thus, CBD consumption can alter that rate CYP450 processes drugs. The effects of the prescription drug can be either inhibited or amplified. For instance, CBD can reduce the enzymatic degradation of warfarin (a prescription blood thinner) which in turn increases the duration and effect of the popular blood pressure medicine.