Are you thinking of giving up pills for plants? Are you a new MMJ patient who doesn’t know a lot about cannabis other than getting you high? Or maybe you are concerned about how medical marijuana interacts with your other drugs. We get it. You need confidence to take the plunge with something that will affect your health. Well, get ready to be woken up about cannabis medicine! Improve holistics‘Russell Colby recently chatted live with a real cannabis pharmacist on Facebook (yes there is!), and she shared some valuable information for patients who use cannabis as medicine. In this post, our expert informs us about cannabis and drug interactions.
About Kelsey Schwander
Kelsey Schwander is a PhD in Pharmacy, originally from Denver, Colorado and having practiced in St. Louis, Missouri for the past three years. Through your company,
BGhealth advice, she meets face-to-face with patients in a doctor’s office. In her work, she helps patients and doctors understand the bigger picture of their drugs and dietary supplements and how they work and interact with cannabis. In addition, she is also a professor at a pharmacy school – helping to close the gap of medical cannabis experts in the health sector!
Can cannabis interact with other drugs?
At the end of the interview, Russell asked Dr. Schwander, whether there are any interactions between cannabis and drugs. And can cannabis interact or is it harmful or should it be avoided in certain diseases?
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BGhealth advice): So let’s start with the medication. Yes, cannabis can interact with prescription drug supplements. I have a lot of patients who say, “Well, cannabis is all natural. It can’t interact with my prescription drugs. “I say,” No, no, it can. ” So we have to be careful.
Dr. Schwander’s 4 main interactions
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BGhealth advice): There are four main interactions that I enjoy talking to people about. So I’ll go into these for a moment, and hopefully that will give people an idea. I’m not going to go through all of the medications because how they work matters a lot and it depends on what other medications you’re taking, but I’ll go into how these interactions work in general.
Because I think it’s really important that you understand. Because a lot of healthcare providers will say, “Oh, it interacts. You can’t use it, ”and that’s not necessarily true.
You really just need to speak to someone who is aware of the interaction.
Interaction # 1
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BGhealth advice): If you have a prescription drug and cannabis, what happens when you use both, they need to be metabolized. And often they are metabolized in the liver by the same enzyme. When they’re both in, they fight to be metabolized – and one wins. Whatever is losing, let’s say we have a prescription drug and then THC. We metabolized them and the prescription drug wins and keeps the enzyme. And so the THC in your body increases. So there are some prescription drugs that actually increase the amount of THC or cannabis or CBD in your body. You should be aware of this as you may need to consume less than another person would.
Interaction # 2
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BGhealth advice): Another example that scares me even more as a pharmacist is the opposite. This is when we have a prescription drug and THC and the prescription drug levels change. The prescription drug goes really high or really low. For example, let’s say it’s a blood thinner and there is an interaction and it increases. You are at increased risk of bleeding, which can be very dangerous. So we have to be aware of that.
Interaction # 3
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BGhealth advice): Some other interactions that occur are additive effects. THC, alcohol, benzodiazepines, like Xanax – things like that. They have additive effects such as sedation. We know THC can have sedative side effects, but when you add alcohol and add some medications that can make them stronger, it can also be dangerous.
Interaction # 4
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BGhealth advice): The last one is some prescription drugs we call prodrugs so this is really nerdy, but I think it’s important to know. One example is a breast cancer drug called tamoxifen. I don’t know if anyone heard about it, but it’s a prodrug. That is, when I consume it, it is not in its active form. It has to be metabolized to get into its active form. And what if there is an interaction, so let’s say I am taking this drug and I am taking cannabis and there is an interaction, this drug cannot be converted to its active form and so it does not work. And in this case, it’s a cancer drug. So this can have really bad side effects. Sometimes we can monitor it.
So it is really important that you let people know what you are doing right now, let a doctor or someone like me know so we can help you monitor this. Not to go too far on the drugs, but the big ones I’d like to share with people are the blood thinners. Be careful, talk to someone about it. Any HIV infection or transplant, if you have a transplant drug, we must be careful and then all antipsychotics. So when someone has mental health problems and their antipsychotics are stable, we should be careful because if they interact we can upset that balance. So these are the four that we should be really careful about in general.
Good interactions (opioids)
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BGhealth advice): I left out one thing. So someone mentioned opioids, so there’s a drug interaction there, but it’s actually a good drug interaction. So we find that a patient who uses both together can actually use fewer opioids. This is something to be careful about based on its status of action, but some drug interactions can produce good reactions. So keep that in mind too. So sorry. So your question was, are there any dangerous side effects?
Always tell your doctor if you are using cannabis
I always tell patients if you are taking opioids or chronic pain, you should always, always, always, no matter what you are taking, always tell your doctor that you are starting to use cannabis because they will have to monitor you. They change the dose with opioids – we know cannabis can increase sedation. So this is a bad side effect to be careful of. Always speak to your provider before starting cannabis if you are taking opioids. But again, the downsides of cannabis side effects are minimal compared to some of the prescription drugs on the market.
Improve holistics for access to cannabis knowledge
Knowledge and understanding are the big connecting pieces that keep us from being separated from what could be of great use to us. Hence Elevate Holistics believes in being part of the cannabis community. Feel free to join our Facebook group Here you will find regular interviews with industry experts, visits to pharmacies, and cannabis advocates of all kinds who believe in patient access to medical marijuana.
And visit our website for additional services such as pharmacist advice. Some of these are free add-ons when you book an appointment for your medical marijuana card or renewal. If you have any questions as always – get in touch! We’re here to make your cannabis experience safe, easy, and as beneficial as possible. Bottom up!