A lot of people who use cannabis medicinally are doing so with the goal of cutting back on or eliminating their use of more traditional pharmaceuticals, but as much as it is an incredible plant, cannabis just can’t treat everything – sometimes another medicine is required.
So, the question is: is it safe to combine cannabis with your prescription or non-prescription medications?
Can I Take Other Medicine with Cannabis?
Cannabis combinations can cause a variety of effects depending on the type of medication:
- Extra sedation. Some cannabis strains make you relaxed and sleepy and depending on which OTC you add to the mix, you can find yourself hyper-tranquilized. Obviously, sleep meds are one drug that could have this effect, but don’t forget about antihistamines (particularly the ones not marked “non-drowsy”), too. Avoid these combinations: too much sedation can slow the heart and respiratory rates with dangerous results. Alternatively, they can result in tachycardia or an extremely high heart rate.
- Cannabis can increase your blood pressure – especially strains with energizing effects (sativas). If you’re taking medication for a cardiovascular condition or symptom, you’ll want to avoid cannabis – it can cause tachycardia very quickly.
- Some people with mental health conditions find that cannabis can help with certain symptoms. However, people taking medicine for anxiety or OCD could experience increased drowsiness when adding cannabis, while other medicines can cause the opposite effect.
Can I Use CBD With Other Medications?
CBD is another cannabinoid compound found in cannabis, which doesn’t cause psychoactivity the way THC does. The main issue with combining CBD and other medicines involves the liver. Research has shown CBD blocks enzymes that break down most pharmaceuticals, keeping your body from properly removing the latter. This can cause some nasty side effects.
The Final Tally
Ultimately, it’s best to avoid using cannabis if you’re on other medication, though there is an exception to this recommendation: if you speak to your doctor and let them know you’re using cannabis – for symptoms of the same condition or another—they might be able to adjust your prescription to accommodate your cannabis consumption.
In terms of OTC medicines for which you don’t need a prescription, please use your best judgment. If you’re unsure how the two medicines will interact, it is best to consult a medical professional.
Fun Factoid: Can pain medicine counteract THC?
Surprisingly, you may have the high-fighter you need sitting in your bathroom cabinet. Some studies have shown aspirin and ibuprofen decrease the production of an enzyme called COX-2, which THC increases. The coolest part? You’ll probably still get the same benefits you normally experience because all COX-2 does is manage memory!