Patients using medical marijuana (MMJ) understand the responsibility that comes with possessing their certification. From abiding by state laws and regulations to keeping their MMJ card valid and updated; they understand that even though cannabis is continuously proving to be less harmful than most pharmaceutical alternatives, it is still a medication and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is especially true for patients with debilitating conditions that may require other medications in conjunction with cannabis. When it comes to mixing medications, however, it is crucial to be educated on how cannabis can interact with other prescriptions issued from a general practitioner. For the most part, cannabis is known to be a safe and effective addition to most patient’s treatment regimens, but everyone using MMJ needs to be aware of some of the negative effects it can have on the body when combined with other medications.
Marijuana use to any extent can interfere significantly with the effectiveness of hormonal medications; particularly estrogen and hormonally based birth controls. Using the two together can diminish the effect of the hormonal treatment.
The combination of cannabis and antidepressants can amplify the sedative effects of both medications. While there aren’t any particularly damaging effects of this type of interaction, the side effects of being constantly fatigued and/or lethargic can make living everyday life very difficult. Cannabis can be effective in treating depression and some other psychological conditions that doctors traditionally treat with antidepressants, eliminating the need for a pharmaceutical altogether. Physicians who are open to this alternative treatment can help their patients find a strain that works for them and combat their psychological conditions to decrease the need for pharmaceutical drugs.
Some medications are broken down in the liver for metabolization throughout the body. These medications don’t mix well with marijuana use and can either under or over-metabolize for adverse effects. There are some heart and cholesterol medications that use the liver and can be impacted by marijuana use, causing them to linger at high levels in the blood stream for too long. Others, like Tylenol, may break down too quickly, making regular doses ineffective over the short term.
Cannabis use can slow blood clotting, so it absolutely should not be combined with blood thinners. The combination of the two could cause a dangerous situation in the event of a trauma that results in bleeding. Blood loss is expedited when the blood is thinner, so what might be a minor laceration could become a life-threatening scenario.
Before beginning any new medications or beginning treatment with medical marijuana, talk to your doctor about mixing medications. Pay attention to how each could interact with both the THC and CBD compounds in cannabis and how your body may be affected. While some interactions that pose little to no threat may be worth handling in order to achieve the desired relief, other prescription combinations might need to be avoided altogether to avoid serious adverse effects. Your doctor will know the best course of action for proceeding with both traditional pharmaceuticals and medical marijuana treatment, so be up front and honest about your current medication regimen.
We thank you for taking the time to further educate yourself on the dangers of mixing cannabis with other prescription drugs. Wish to learn more about medical marijuana? Sign up for the MedWell Health & Wellness Centers Newsletter for more informative articles as well as local and national updates on MMJ legislation.