CBD has become a popular way to ease everything from aches and pains to chronic stress. Although meta-research shows CBD to be surprisingly safe, it’s still smart to understand the way it might interact with your medications and diet.
Treat CBD like any other health or wellness product: Before deciding whether to add it to your daily routine, talk to your doctor. Photograph the labels of any products you’re particularly interested in, and print off any research materials you dug up yourself.
During the conversation, be sure to mention:
1. The spectrum of hemp
CBD products can contain three different types of CBD extract: isolate, broad spectrum, and full spectrum. Isolate contains only CBD and no other cannabinoids, while full-spectrum CBD extract contains the full range of chemical compounds found in hemp — including small amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Products that contain broad-spectrum hemp extract, like our CBD gummies contain CBD along with all of the other beneficial compounds found in the hemp plant.
It’s important to know which type of extract you’ll be consuming before you do so. If you’re interested in full-spectrum, know that THC is prone to interactions. CBD isolate is free of THC but also might be free of other natural compounds that can help your body process CBD. Determine with a medical provider which extract is your ideal balance of risk and reward.
2. The grapefruit rule
CBD interactions are a relatively new area of study, so it’s often helpful to look at more established types of interaction research. Grapefruits have long been known to inhibit to inhibit the activity of cytochrome P450, a liver enzyme that helps to metabolize many modern medications. CBD has been shown to have a similar inhibitory effect on cytochrome P450. If you avoid eating grapefruit with a certain medication, you may not want to take CBD with it, either.
It’s not always easy to know which medications are processed with cytochrome P450, so make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist to know for sure. When taken alongside CBD, blood thinners like warfarin might become more dangerous for individuals with pre-existing liver problems.
3. Medications you’re taking with similar effects
CBD is often used for anxiety relief and relaxation, but there are plenty of prescription medications that do similar things. Medications like alprazolam, often branded as Xanax, might synergize with CBD to deliver stronger effects than users are accustomed to.
What’s wrong with a little extra relaxation? Depending on the specific medication, adding CBD could cause unwanted drowsiness, dizziness, and other fatigue-related symptoms. If you’re looking for anxiety relief, talk to your doctor about whether a prescription medication or CBD would be a better fit for you.
4. Other ingredients in the CBD product
Unless you’re taking purified, lab-grade CBD, you need to consider the other ingredients as well. Many manufacturers use artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives to make CBD-infused foods more visually appealing or shelf-stable. Unfortunately, a lot of those additives interfere with how medications are absorbed.
Although “natural” is not the same as “safe,” natural ingredients are generally a safer bet. Still, even natural flavorings like chocolate have some documented drug interactions. Spices like turmeric are another category to ask about.
CBD may be widely considered safe, but it’s always best to talk to a medical expert before starting a new supplement. Then, after you’ve made CBD part of your lifestyle, check back in: You may not need some of the other supplements or medications you’re taking after all.