Cannabis users Google a lot of things; sometimes it’s the nearest pizza place, other times it’s whether or not Nietzsche might have really been right all along. However, one of the most common frantic Google searches conducted by Cannabis users is actually really simple – can you imbibe when taking medications?
Some things, like Alcohol or common over-the-counter drugs, might be an easy result, but not so with one of the most important medications possible – antibiotics.
What are Antibiotics and How They Affect Your Body
Antibiotics can be simply classified as anything that either kills or stops the growth of bacteria. More specifically, antibiotics are the drugs you get given to fight off any kind of bacterial infection.
They come in a variety of different types, with some being incredibly specialised to target only very specific types of bacteria, whereas others can tackle multiple bacteria strains.
This latter category is where people can sometimes have problems with antibiotics – there are many forms of bacteria that exist in the human body that are actually incredibly beneficial, so suddenly losing those to a drug that’s supposed to help you can be quite daunting and troublesome.
However, antibiotics are crucial to surviving a myriad of illnesses that might have killed us before its discovery.
Antibiotics have recently undergone a huge PR overhaul; decades ago, antibiotics were prescribed for every condition you could imagine, but these days Doctors have changed their minds. Too frequent use of antibiotics, coupled with people not taking their full course of antibiotics, has resulted in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That doesn’t mean it’s not amazing, though!
Today, antibiotics are some of the most common drugs prescribed by doctors in the world, allowing millions of people to shrug off illnesses that might have proved deadly only a century ago.
However, what about if you take Cannabis at the same time?
How Cannabis Interacts with Medication (Generally Speaking)
Cannabis has a reputation of being the safe drug, one that doesn’t interact with other forms of medication or causes any problems whatsoever.
However, it’s important to remember that everything your body ingests has the potential to affect your body, and whatever you put in your body, in a myriad of ways.
Cannabis’ interaction with medication as a whole is difficult to catalogue, as proper study into the effects of cannabis consumption is often mired in political backlash, resulting in depressingly low numbers of actual studies.
However, we do know the bodily effects cannabis has on the human body, and thus can extrapolate that into figuring out how that might affect other medications.
Generally speaking, cannabis doesn’t specifically interfere with medications that a user might take, but its effects can certainly compound with the effects of other medications.
For example, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, THC (the principal psychoactive component of cannabis) activates both the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, which cause an increase in oxygen consumption, whilst also reducing blood flow in coronary arteries. If a cannabis user were also taking medication to lower their blood pressure, this could cause a compounding effect that would cause the user’s blood pressure to lower much more than expected.
All this means that cannabis doesn’t cause problems with other medications, generally speaking; it just means you need to be aware of what anything else you’re taking does to your body as well.
Just as you should be all the time!
Fun fact, grapefruit is one of the most deadly things you can ingest when taking many types of medication – it can cause drugs to fail to breakdown, thus sticking around in your body longer, potentially giving you an overdose.
Does Cannabis Mix with Antibiotics
There have been essentially no studies published to 100% verify the safety of Cannabis when mixed with antibiotics – however, there have also been essentially no reports whatsoever of anyone suffering ill-effects from doing so.
As ever when discussing medical cannabis, there is a shocking lack of research, leaving us to work only on anecdotal reports, or simply the lack of official reports. When looking into the statistics of deaths or complications in medicine, no reports is a good thing!
Ultimately, you’re going to be absolutely fine. Cannabis has yet to be shown to have any adverse effects with antibiotics, instead sometimes aiding the body in its eventual healing process, due to the stimulation of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, allowing for both relief and inflammatory treatment.
However, one thing to consider is that smoking cannabis – precisely the same as if you smoked tobacco – can irritate the parts of your body that might need treatment by antibiotics, such as your throat or lungs.
Alongside that, according to the American Journal of Health, if you’re the type of pot smoker to mix tobacco in with your cannabis, one thing to bear in mind is that tobacco has been known to cause some slight drug conflicts, due to the fact that it induces CYP1A2, one of the enzymes in your body that helps metabolize many forms of medication.
Alternatives to Smoking Pot #1: Edibles
Considering there is some risk when smoking cannabis – whether you mix it with tobacco or not – with regard to your glandular or lung health, it can be a pretty good idea to consider alternatives.
Wait, alternatives? That’s right, you don’t have to only smoke pot, there are a myriad of other ways to imbibe!
One of the most common ways to take cannabis, besides smoking, is the use of Edibles. Edibles are simply any type of food that has had THC or CBD infused within it.
When you read the word infused, it’s likely you might think of some sort of chemical experiment; unnatural, harmful chemicals put into your food by some big company.
Surprisingly, Edibles are incredibly simple and safe to make. One of the most common ways people eat edibles is through the use of Cannabis Cookies, which is nothing more than your favourite cookie batter, but with Cannabis infused butter.
The infusion of Cannabis into butter is simply the process of gently simmering butter, water and your chosen strain of Cannabis until the fat-soluble THC is absorbed into the butter.
If you’re not partial to sweets, however, then you can also use CBD Oils.
Alternatives to Smoking Pot #2: CBD Oil
Although many people would be quick to point at THC as being the important component of Cannabis, THC is actually only one of the numerous cannabinoids in the Cannabis plant.
Alongside THC, Cannabis plants possess another cannabinoid known as CBD, which has a number of medicinal uses.
However, one big advantage – or drawback, depending on your viewpoint! – is that CBD does not induce any psychoactive or intoxicating effects. It is simply a natural component of the Cannabis plant that can be extracted and used in medicine.
Some of the things that CBD Oil can be used for include a more natural pain relief or as an anti-inflammatory, an anti-seizure medication for Epileptics, and even as a continuous medication to help deal with anxiety disorders, according to the National Library of Medicine.
CBD Oil acts less like a drug that changes your body chemistry, like THC or even common, over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen. Instead, it encourages your body naturally to produce more ways of dealing with pain using the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Final Verdict – Is it Safe to Use Cannabis While On Antibiotics
Ultimately, Cannabis use has not been shown to have any adverse effects when consumed during a course of antibiotics.
The only thing you really need to worry about would be if you’re taking any additional pain relief, as you might find yourself getting plenty of relief already from Cannabis. Alongside that, smoking Cannabis while taking antibiotics that are designed to target the respiratory tract might leave you coughing a bit due to your throat and lungs being overtaxed.
In that situation, however, just switch to other forms of Cannabis such as CBD oils and Edibles!
Finally, if you’re ever unsure if something 100% does or does not conflict with medication, it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor. They’re not going to report you for admitting to imbibing – the Hippocratic Oath is pretty damn useful! – so they should only be looking out for your best interest.
That said, it never hurts to do your own research and consider all the facts. The important thing is to stay informed and smoke safely.
Review by Daniel J Isaacman, M.D
Whenever one consumes more than one drug at a time, drug-drug interactions are always a possibility that must be considered. A given drug can interfere with the absorption, the metabolism, or both of the other drug. While there have not been many reports of such interactions between CBD and various antibiotics, one should be aware that the possibility does exist. CBD is metabolized by a system of enzymes in the body known as the P-450 system. Drugs that cause P-450 drug interactions are referred to as either inhibitors or inducers of these enzymes. An inducing agent can increase the rate of another drug’s metabolism by as much as two- to threefold that develops over a period of a week. When an inducing agent is prescribed with another medication, the dosage of the other medicines may need to be adjusted since the rate of metabolism is increased, and the effect of the medication reduced. This can lead to a therapeutic failure of the medicine. Conversely, if a medication is taken with an agent that inhibits its metabolism, then the drug level can rise and possibly result in a harmful or adverse effect. Information regarding a drug’s CYP450 metabolism and its potential for inhibition or induction can be found on the drug label and accessed through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or manufacturer’s websites. Understanding which antibiotics are inducers and which are inhibitors is the job of your physician, so it is always important to consult a physician if you are using CBD and are placed on an antibiotic or an antifungal medication. A list of drugs that are categorized as inducers or inhibitors is provided here. Make sure your doctor is aware of your CBD use so he/she can advise you on whether or not this antibiotic might alter the metabolism of your CBD and thus alter its drug effect.