Is it safe to take CBD oil with prednisone? We take a look at the facts…
Prednisone is a medication which doctors often prescribe for inflammatory conditions. However, it has limited usefulness due to a range of potential side effects. This has led many patients to seek more natural alternatives, including CBD.
CBD has gained attention in recent years as a potent anti-inflammatory. Furthermore, scientists generally consider CBD to be safe, with a relatively low risk of side effects.
But is it safe to take prednisone and CBD together, or will the two interact and make matters even worse? Here’s all you need to know.
What Is Prednisone?
Prednisone belongs to a drug class known as glucocorticoids. These drugs are sometimes known as corticosteroids, or simply steroids. However, they should not be confused with the anabolic steroids that some athletes use.
How Does Prednisone Help Inflammation?
Prednisone works by mimicking the effects of glucocorticoid hormones that the body naturally produces. The adrenal glands secrete these hormones, and they play a role in various physiological functions. One of these functions is regulating the immune system and the inflammatory response.
Inflammation is a natural and healthy response to injury or infection. It allows the immune system to work more efficiently, enabling it to destroy invading pathogens. As a side effect, this process creates swelling, redness, and pain.
In the short term, this response is helpful as it reminds us to take extra care of ourselves while we heal. However, when inflammation fails to switch off when it should, serious problems can occur.
Chronic inflammation can cause pain, such as arthritis and joint pain. It is also associated with many serious conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and depression.
Glucocorticoid medications such as prednisone help to turn off inflammation by reducing activity in the immune system. Therefore, they can be used to treat a wide range of different medical conditions.
Some of the conditions for which doctors prescribe prednisone include:
- Skin disorders
- Autoimmune disorders (multiple sclerosis, lupus, etc.)
- Some types of arthritis
- Some cancers
However, although prednisone is a useful medication with many indications, it can also cause some very unpleasant side effects.
Prednisone Side Effects
The side effects of prednisone include:
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Mood changes
- Increased risk of infection
When you take it over an extended period, prednisone can also cause more serious issues, including:
- Weight gain
- Glucose intolerance
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of osteoporosis
- Stunted growth in children
Due to this long list of adverse effects, many people would prefer to replace their prednisone with natural alternatives like CBD. But is CBD effective for inflammation, and is this safe to do? Let’s take a look.
How Does CBD Help with Inflammation?
CBD has become popular in recent years as research highlights its many potential benefits. Probably one of the most well-publicized benefits of CBD oil is its anti-inflammatory effects.
CBD helps inflammation by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is made up of chemicals called endocannabinoids, enzymes, and cell receptors known as cannabinoid receptors.
The two main types of cannabinoid receptor are known as CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly associated with the nervous system. CB2 receptors are found throughout the body, but they are concentrated in the immune system.
The ECS has many different functions. It helps to maintain a state of balance within the body, including controlling inflammation, immunity, and pain.
These functions are triggered when endocannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors. They fit together, like a lock fits a key to open a door.
Plant cannabinoids like THC have a similar chemical structure to these endocannabinoids. Therefore, they can fit into the same receptors and trigger the same reactions.
CBD is slightly different, though. It does not fit into these receptors directly but alters the way that they bind with other molecules, making them more or less effective.
When you take CBD oil, it influences the way endocannabinoids bind with CB2 receptors in the immune system. This helps to help turn off the inflammatory response.
In this sense, CBD is somewhat similar to prednisone. Both therapies can help to suppress the immune system by interacting with its cells.
However, unlike prednisone, CBD is not known to cause serious side effects. That is not to say that CBD will never cause any side effects at all, though. It’s just that they are unlikely to affect everyone or be especially severe.
To learn more, read our related article on the side effects of CBD.
Does CBD Interact with Prednisone?
If you suffer from an inflammatory condition and take prednisone, you might be wondering whether you can try CBD too. You might think that CBD is safe since it comes from a plant and causes very few side effects.
But unfortunately, despite its relative safety, CBD does have the potential to interact with other drugs. This means you should be cautious when adding CBD to your existing medication.
When you take CBD (or any medicine), it passes through your digestive system to your liver via the hepatic portal vein. In the liver, an enzymatic pathway called the cytochrome P450 pathway (CYP450) metabolizes CBD.
This process involves several enzymes, including one known as CYP3A4. This is an enzyme which is involved in metabolizing around 25% of all drugs, including CBD and prednisone.
Taking CBD can inhibit the action of CYP3A4. This means that other drugs metabolized by the same enzyme get broken down more slowly. Therefore, CBD can increase the concentration of drugs like prednisone in the body, raising the risk of side effects.
To find out whether your medication interacts with CBD, scientists recommend that you use the ‘grapefruit test.’ Grapefruit and grapefruit juice interact with many of the same drugs that CBD does.
So, if your doctor has told you to avoid grapefruit with your medicine, you should probably avoid CBD, too.
Is It Safe to Take CBD and Prednisone Together?
Since CBD oil can interact with prednisone, making side effects more likely, doctors don’t consider them safe to take together.
Sadly, this is the case for many other medications, too. Although for some people enhancing the effects of their medicine can be helpful, for others, it can be dangerous.
Therefore, if you suffer from an inflammatory condition and want to try CBD, you may need to stop your prednisone first. However, you must do this carefully and under the supervision of your physician.
Here’s what you need to know if you are thinking of making the switch from prednisone to CBD.
Making the Switch from Prednisone to CBD
If you use glucocorticoid medication like prednisone, it is essential that you do not stop taking it suddenly. Stopping this type of medicine without gradually tapering the dose down can result in severe withdrawal symptoms.
Some common prednisone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Joint pain
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscle tenderness
Therefore, if you want to stop taking your prednisone and try CBD instead, be very cautious. Talk to your physician first and explain why you want to make the change. Hopefully, they will be understanding and tell you how to stop taking your prednisone safely.
You may need to do this very slowly over the course of several days or weeks, so be patient. If your doctor is knowledgeable about CBD, they should be able to tell you when it is safe to start using it. In the meantime, ask about other ways to manage your symptoms, such as through diet or exercise.
Making the switch from prednisone to CBD is a slow process. However, it is essential to do it properly to avoid suffering even more.
Does CBD Oil Interact with Prednisone? Final Thoughts
CBD oil and prednisone are both useful anti-inflammatory treatments. However, the two substances are metabolized by the same enzyme, meaning that they can easily interact.
CBD can increase the likelihood of experiencing prednisone side effects, which is the exact opposite of what you want. Therefore, you should not take the two together unless your physician explicitly tells you to do so.
If you want to make the switch from prednisone to CBD, you should do so with caution. Suddenly stopping your medication can have unpleasant withdrawal effects, so talk to your doctor about doing this safely.
You may want to look into different ways to relieve your symptoms without medication while you make the transition. By finding ways to manage your condition with some simple lifestyle changes, you could make things much easier for yourself.
And finally, remember that CBD can interact with many drugs besides prednisone. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking CBD with any other medication.