Does Cannabis Interact with Antibiotics?


Millions of people now rely on cannabis for relief from numerous health conditions. It can be effectively used to treat anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, autoimmune diseases, and more. In the United States alone, nearly four million people are registered medical marijuana patients and use cannabis regularly.

Although cannabis is a safe treatment option, there are risks to be aware of. This includes the potential for cannabis to negatively interact with other medications, like antibiotics. Often prescribed to fight against bacterial infection, antibiotics are also sometimes taken as part of a treatment plan to mitigate the effects of a weakened immune system in immunocompromised patients.

Almost everyone will take antibiotics at some point, and even though antibiotics and cannabis are quite safe on their own, it is important to be aware of any potential interactions if you are a regular cannabis user starting a round of antibiotic treatment.

What are Antibiotics Used for?


Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent many different bacterial infections. This can range from infected scrapes and cuts to treating acne and sexually transmitted infections. Antibiotics are also prescribed following surgeries that carry a high risk of infection, including gall bladder removal, joint replacements, and eye surgeries. They are sometimes used as a preventative treatment for people with weakened immune systems highly susceptible to infections, like chemotherapy patients.

There are hundreds of different antibiotics, but commonly prescribed ones include:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Azithromycin
  • Cephalexin
  • Clindamycin
  • Clavulanate 
  • Sulfamethoxazole
  • Trimethoprim
  • Doxycycline
  • Metronidazole
  • Levofloxacin

Antibiotics and Interactions with Cannabis


There is so far little clinical evidence to suggest any significant interactions between cannabis and antibiotics and no notable reports of patients suffering adverse effects resulting from patients mixing the two. However, cannabis is known to inhibit certain enzymes responsible for metabolizing other antibiotics including troleandomycin, erythromycin, and miocamycin. By inhibiting these enzymes, you may be more prone to negative side effects of the antibiotics, which can include vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.

A study from Penn State identified 57 pharmaceutical drugs that displayed significant potential for cannabis interactions if taken concurrently. Of those 57, there was only one antibiotic: clindamycin. The enzymes that the body uses to process clindamycin are also used to process delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). This can result in a “drug-drug interaction”, with potentially negative side effects or reduced pharmaceutical efficacy, but this has yet to be observed in a clinical setting.

Although the risk of interactions has so far been observed to be low, it is always advisable to consult with your doctor about cannabis use while taking antibiotics.

Cannabis Alternatives While Taking Antibiotics

The risk of negative interactions between cannabis and antibiotics may be limited, but some patients still prefer to err on the side of caution and may abstain from cannabis use if and when they require antibiotic treatment. 

This can be difficult for some patients who rely on cannabis to manage the symptoms of a debilitating disorder. Fortunately, using CBD isolate products, and avoiding THC is one potential option. Using only CBD allows you to avoid additional psychoactive and intoxicating cannabinoids that can potentially exacerbate the negative side effects of antibiotics, while still receiving many of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

Additionally, some researchers are even exploring the potential for CBD to one day serve as an antibiotic in its own right. An Australian study observed that CBD killed every bacterial strain that they tested, including some that are notoriously resistant to antibiotic resistance. The results show promise for CBD treatments to develop as a natural alternative to antibiotic treatments for gonorrhea, meningitis, legionnaires disease, and many other bacterial infections in the coming years. As of now, though, CBD cannot be used as a replacement for antibiotic treatment. If you are dealing with a bacterial infection,  it is important that you seek appropriate treatment from your doctor.

Are you taking antibiotics and are interested in exploring CBD products? CBD is now legal nationwide and can be delivered to your door if you shop through the Heally Marketplace.

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