It is well known that cannabis has many medicinal benefits, including the management of chronic pain, epilepsy, anxiety and treating the symptoms of PTSD. But what about the interaction with prescription drugs?
However, in the case of cannabinoids, a group of substances found in the cannabis plant, there is a risk that combining them with other prescription drugs can cause harmful drug interactions. This suggests new research conducted by scientists at Washington State University (WSUs).
The researchers looked at cannabinoids and their major metabolites in the blood of cannabis users and found that they interfere with two families of enzymes that help metabolize a wide variety of drugs prescribed for various conditions. As a result, either the positive effects of the drugs may decrease or their negative effects may increase if there is too much buildup in the body, causing unintended side effects such as toxicity or accidental overdose.
Interaction with prescription drugs
The findings examined the interaction between three of the most abundant cannabinoids – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN).
While more research is essential, the researchers suggested caution should be exercised when using cannabis with prescription drugs.
“Physicians should be aware of the potential for toxicity or lack of response when patients take cannabinoids. “
Philip Lazarus, senior author of the paper and distinguished professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Boeing goes on to say:
“It's one thing if you're young and healthy and occasionally smoke cannabis, but for older people on medication, taking CBD or medical marijuana can negatively impact their treatment.”
Research findings on cannabis and prescription drugs
Researchers used engineered human kidney cells and confirmed their results in human liver and kidney samples in which enzymes were present.
Shamema Nasrin, a graduate student at the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, emphasized that while cannabinoids remain in the consumer's body for about 30 minutes before being rapidly broken down, the metabolites resulting from that process take up to 14 days. can remain in the system.
In addition, metabolites are also found “in higher concentrations than cannabinoids,” she further explains, adding that they have been “overlooked in previous studies.”
Potential negative drug interactions include a decrease in the positive effects of the drugs, as well as an increase in their negative effects, resulting in excessive accumulation in the body that could cause unintended side effects such as toxicity or accidental overdose.
“Taking CBD or marijuana can help your pain, but can make the other drug you're taking more toxic, and that increase in toxicity could mean you can't keep taking that drug. So there could be serious implications for cancer drugs, and that's just one example of the many drugs that could potentially be affected by the cannabinoid-enzyme interactions we're seeing."