VTCNA Health Tips: Cannabis and Drug Interactions
Use caution when taking cannabis with other drugs that cause drowsiness, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines (drugs that treat anxiety) or muscle relaxants. Decreased breathing and heart rate, and potential loss of consciousness, or “central nervous system depression,” can potentially happen. Learn more about cannabis and drug interactions from the Vermont Cannabis Nurses Association Founder Jessilyn Dolan:
Timing Cannabis and Drug Interactions
An easy way to help avoid potential interactions between medication and cannabis is to take pharmaceutical medications an hour, or better yet, a few hours, away from cannabis.
Methods of Cannabis Consumption
Combustion (smoking or vaping) is unlikely to produce interactions, as compared to cannabis processed via first pass metabolism (taken orally and processed through the liver). There is little to no concern with topical interactions.
Any drug processed through the liver, when taken with cannabis processed through the liver, could bioaccumulate or metabolize differently, causing the drug to increase or decrease in effectiveness. Medication levels should be monitored by qualified healthcare professionals to see if adjustments are needed.
Those consuming cannabis processed via first pass metabolism while on blood thinners, blood sugar, or blood pressure medications, should have their medication levels monitored frequently for needed adjustments. Those on oral birth control should consider a second form of birth control.
Case Study: Gabapentin
Gabapentin, aka Neurontin, is an anticonvulsant used to prevent and control seizures and to relieve nerve pain (ie, shingles, neuropathy).
Gabapentin, combined with cannabis, may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, impairment in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination. (Even more caution is advised with the elderly and driving or operating hazardous machinery).
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