Cannabis is safer than many pharmaceutical drugs, but it doesn’t come without risks. As legalization sweeps the United States, more people are turning to medical cannabis and CBD products to find relief for their anxiety. But how Cannabis can Affect your Anti-anxiety Medication?
Whether they are turning to cannabis to relieve anxiety, reduce inflammation, support a great night’s sleep, or improve their digestive system, an estimated 3.6 million people are registered medical marijuana patients in the United States. Cannabis is a safe, natural solution to many ailments, but like anything else, you need to consume it responsibly. This becomes especially true when taking pharmaceutical medications.
In addition to potential side effects like paranoia, dry mouth, and racing thoughts, cannabis can also interact with anti-anxiety medications to produce additional undesirable side effects and, in some extreme cases, may even be fatal.
According to The Canadian Medical Association Journal, the commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication fluoxetine (Prozac) can potentially “increase THC exposure and psychoactive effects” when combined with cannabis. This means you feel THC’s effects much stronger than normal, which can create a less-than-ideal situation for the consumer.
THC can cause anxiety and paranoia, and those on anti-anxiety medications are already predisposed to feeling these emotions. Not to mention, it’s hard to know an appropriate dose of cannabis is when THC’s effects are amplified.
If you’re taking anti-anxiety medication and cannabis, it’s important to work closely with a cannabis-educated healthcare provider and exercise extreme caution. Even if you don’t experience visible side effects after combining the two, the drugs can still interact and make your anti-anxiety medication behave and metabolize differently in the body.
According to Karger, a publisher of medical and scientific content, anxiety is one of the most common reasons to seek a medical marijuana card, so mixing cannabis and anti-anxiety medication is likely to occur among medical marijuana patients and even recreational consumers.
Now more than ever, it’s important to fully understand the risks of cannabis and anti-anxiety medications. Anti-anxiety prescriptions spiked 34% last year during the coronavirus pandemic, outpacing antidepressant and insomnia prescriptions. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants don’t come without risks, whether cannabis is involved or not, so it’s important to know the facts about them.
How Anti-Anxiety Medication and Cannabis Interacts
Cannabis affects the way our bodies absorb and use anti-anxiety medications like Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil, and Xanax.
It’s important to note that many of these drugs are also considered to be antidepressants, but they are commonly prescribed for anxiety, too. So if you are on an antidepressant, pay close attention because this information might also apply to you as well.
A report by The D.C. Department of Health shows THC can decrease the level of SNRI Cymbalta in the body, leading to the Cymbalta becoming less effective. SRNI means serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and they are a class of medication used to treat depression and anxiety. SSRIs are another class of medication; they are the most commonly prescribed antidepressant and anxiety medication.
The same report shows CBD, found in both hemp and high-THC cannabis, can increase the level of SSRIs in the bloodstream, as CBD blocks our body from clearing the drug as quickly as it would without CBD. This can lead to a condition called serotonin syndrome, a serotonin overload and capable of causing death.
CBD is shown to increase the TCAs level (tricyclic antidepressants), also commonly prescribed for anxiety, when taken together. Dry mouth, high blood pressure, and constipation can all occur when the TCAs level is high, according to the Department of Health’s report.
Be aware of side effects when combining cannabis and hemp-derived CBD products with anxiety medications like Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, and Luvox (this is not a complete list of anti-anxiety medications). Common side effects include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Impaired thinking, motor control, and coordination (especially elderly people)
Talk With a Doctor
Some of the side effects we mentioned can be alarming, but don’t let that scare you from trying cannabis. If you’re on an anti-anxiety medication, you are already at risk of experiencing side effects, whether you incorporate cannabis into your routine or not. There are ways to utilize both cannabis and anti-anxiety medication.
Working alongside a cannabis-educated healthcare professional is the best way to safely consume cannabis and prescription drugs; countless individuals are doing it and don’t experience side effects.
It’s important to not stop taking your anti-anxiety medications by yourself. Though you might want to try cannabis instead of your prescription medication, suddenly stopping your medications can be unsafe. Consult with your physician before making adjustments to your medication routine.
Together, you can come up with a plan to safely combine cannabis and your prescriptions or begin to wean yourself off anti-anxiety medication and try cannabis instead.
Interested in cannabis for anxiety? Sign up to talk to one of our licensed physicians online and together, you can determine a safe way to incorporate cannabis into your routine.