The use of CBD is on the rise globally as the legalization of this hemp compound accelerates. Thus, CBD-infused products have become available as over-the-counter remedies for stress, anxiety, and depression.
More and more people choose CBD as a herbal, non-addictive, and affordable remedy for their health issues, and some of them even mix CBD with other medications prescribed to them by medical professionals.
However, the problem with CBD is that though it’s widely marketed as a well-tolerated and safe remedy for numerous health conditions, in reality, these claims relate to using CBD alone.
As with any other substance, CBD may interact with medications and products that people consume, thus inhibiting or intensifying their effects.
It’s vital to understand the principles of these interactions for safety reasons, to ensure precise dosing, and to avoid undesirable side effects. This article walks you through one medication category that is can you take CBD with antidepressants? Read on to find all the answers.
The Principles of Drug Metabolism
It’s often hard for people without medical education to understand the essentials of drug metabolism. That is why they mix several types of medications without considering their interactions and the hazards of their overlapping effects. Here are the basics you should know:
- Medications start producing their intended effect on the user’s body as soon as they are metabolized – that is, broken down in the liver.
- Metabolism occurs with the help of enzymes; the enzymes responsible for drug metabolism are referred to as cytochrome P450 (CYP450).
- The CYP450 mechanism works differently with different medications.
- If the enzymes work too actively or are insufficient, the body may experience under- or overdosing on the medication, both with hazardous consequences.
- Insufficient enzyme activity can also lead to cumulative overdosing as the body can’t eliminate the medications as a result of ineffective or incomplete metabolism processes.
Thus, as you can see, for any medication to produce the desired effect, it should be precisely dosed, and the enzymes in the patient’s liver should function appropriately to break the substance down into elements a body can absorb, with the byproducts of metabolism effectively disposed of.
Mechanisms of Action: CBD vs. Antidepressants
Now, let’s take a look at whether CBD and antidepressants can potentially interact with each other and enhance or hinder each other’s effects.
As a rule, antidepressants represent a class of medications that address the brain’s chemical balance. They affect neurotransmitters responsible for the human mood and emotions and suppress the excessive release of hormones responsible for anxiety, depressive thoughts, and other depressive symptoms.
As for CBD, it mainly interacts with a different system in the human brain – the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The widely disseminated system of cannabinoid receptors present in the ECS gets activated with CBD, also giving patients efficient mood regulation.
Thus, it is evident that CBD and antidepressants essentially address the same problem, though through different pathways in the human brain and body. Thus, there is little room for their interactions, and some studies even suggest the synergistic effect that joint use of CBD and antidepressant drugs can help achieve.
Still, it is vital to point out that CBD use comes with many intricate drug-drug interactions, thus reducing the concentration of antidepressants in the bloodstream and hindering their efficiency.
For instance, recent research proved the inhibiting effect of CBD on sertraline, mirtazapine, escitalopram, and fluoxetine. Therefore, people with serious depressive conditions should reconsider using CBD jointly with their antidepressant medications to avoid hindered effects and reap maximum benefits from the medical prescription.
Another potential source of risk resulting from a combined intake of CBD and antidepressants is the reduction of drug metabolism in the liver. As we discussed above, improper metabolism can cause the antidepressant components to accumulate in the body and cause unexpected toxicity in the end.
A Word on Side Effects
As you can see, using CBD together with antidepressants is a dilemma that the medical community has yet to resolve. On the one hand, patients may reap the amplified benefits of both remedies for their depressive symptoms if CBD and antidepressants work synergistically.
Furthermore, CBD and antidepressants have overlapping side effects that can potentially double up in patients. For instance, antidepressant use often comes with the risk of headache, nausea, insomnia, drowsiness, and dizziness. Patients on antidepressants may also suffer from a lack of appetite and dry mouth.
If you check the side effects of CBD, you’ll also find drowsiness, dizziness, problems with appetite, and dry mouth on the list. Thus, if you experience some of the mentioned side effects while taking one type of medication – either antidepressants or CBD – it’s generally not recommended to add the second one. The risk of having graver side effects rises manifold, creating an additional health problem instead of solving the one with depression.
CBD as an Antidepressant
If you’re afraid of drug interactions and side effects, it’s worth considering one type of remedy for your depressive symptoms. Patients with mild to moderate symptoms may try CBD as a safer and more natural remedy first, especially given the rising body of research suggesting that CBD is effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
According to Silote et al., present-day antidepressant treatment strategies have many limitations, and antidepressant drugs come with a host of problems for patients, like addiction, hormonal imbalance, etc. CBD, in its turn, works equally well with serotonergic, glutamatergic, and endocannabinoid systems, all of which play a role in depression.
Thus, CBD’s complex pharmacology and ability to interact with many neurotransmitter systems responsible for depression development give this compound many promising applications in this medical sphere.
Medical Consultation Is a Must
Hopefully, you’re more knowledgeable about what happens in your body as soon as you take antidepressants or CBD (or both). Though the processes of metabolism and drug-drug interactions may seem complicated at first, it’s vital to understand them clearly so that you avoid dangerous toxicity effects or suboptimal results from medication intake.
Always consult your doctor about adding CBD to your treatment regimen and control your state if you try these medications together – we recommend discontinuing both if you notice side effects or feel unwell, visiting a medical professional for the proper treatment plan and dosing alterations.
The author of this material is Lana Braslavska, an expert in cannabis products and a researcher with an interest in potential CBD uses in the medical sphere. Lana writes blogs for the AskGrowers audience to educate people on safe CBD choices and proper dosing and intake planning for optimal health benefits.