The reason for this is that CBD inhibits two main enzyme systems, Grinspoon explains. Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions in the body, and play an important role in functions like digestion and respiration. They also help you metabolize antidepressants. “One system is the same one that grapefruit inhibits — the technical name is the CYP34A enzyme system. So, just like grapefruit juice, CBD can cause your body to have higher doses of benzodiazepines [anti-anxiety medications], or certain antipsychotic medications,” Grinspon explains.
“Generally speaking, you can safely use CBD supplements when you’re taking antidepressants. However, there are a couple concerns,” Dr. Peter Grinspoon, M.D., an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the author of the memoir Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction, tells Bustle. “The first concern is that CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA. You have to be careful that the CBD you’re getting is from a reliable supplier. For example, Consumer Reports recently put out an article on how to go shopping for CBD because they’ve done tests, and found some [supplement] formulations had no CBD. Some were inaccurately labeled, and other formulations even had some THC in them.” (THC is the cannabis compound that, unlike CBD, can get you high.)
The 2018 passing of the bipartisan Farm Bill legalized the production of hemp on an industrial scale for the first time in the U.S. — which means it’s that the CBD industry will only continue to grow. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean there will be more oversight or required research.
What’s more, Grinspoon says that CBD also inhibits “the system that metabolizes a lot of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and antipsychotics as well.” Meaning, taking CBD supplements while on these psychiatric medications could hypothetically interfere with how these medications are metabolized.
According to statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness in any given year. Furthermore, as NBC News reported, a 2016 study revealed one in six people in the U.S. take some type of psychiatric medication, with antidepressants being the most widely prescribed. Limited research has shown that CBD may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and sleep issues, as well as lower levels of inflammation in the body, though this research (and the dosages needed for these effects) is nowhere near conclusive. And that means you need to be careful if you’re choosing to consume it.
So, what can potentially happen if you take CBD oil and antidepressants? Unfortunately, because there’s a limited amount of studies to draw from, Grinspoon says, “CBD does have hypothetical drug interactions; the question is whether these are clinically important or not.”
Despite this, Grinspoon explains that this is typically not a large cause of concern for a majority of people on antidepressants or other psychiatric medications. “Certainly, if someone is on a very delicately balanced medical regiment, CBD could knock that out of whack because of the two different enzyme systems it inhibits. In terms of actual clinical practice, I haven’t heard any stories of people having clinical decompensation because of adding CBD to their regime,” he says.
While generally considered safe, CBD may cause drowsiness, lightheadedness, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, and, in rare instances, damage to the liver. Taking CBD with other medications that have similar side effects may increase the risk of unwanted symptoms or toxicity. In other words, taking CBD at the same time with OTC or prescription medications and substances that cause sleepiness, such as opioids, benzodiazepines (such as Xanax or Ativan), antipsychotics, antidepressants, antihistamines (such as Benadryl), or alcohol may lead to increased sleepiness, fatigue, and possibly accidental falls and accidents when driving. Increased sedation and tiredness may also happen when using certain herbal supplements, such as kava, melatonin, and St. John’s wort. Taking CBD with stimulants (such as Adderall) may lead to decreased appetite, while taking it with the diabetes drug metformin or certain heartburn drugs (such as Prilosec) may increase the risk of diarrhea.
The researchers further warned that while the list may be used as a starting point to identify potential drug interactions with marijuana or CBD oil, plant-derived cannabinoid products may deliver highly variable cannabinoid concentrations (unlike the FDA-regulated prescription cannabinoid medications previously mentioned), and may contain many other compounds that can increase the risk of unintended drug interactions.
Doubling up on side effects
Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) seem to be all the rage these days, promising relief from a wide range of maladies, from insomnia and hot flashes to chronic pain and seizures. Some of these claims have merit to them, while some of them are just hype. But it won’t hurt to try, right? Well, not so fast. CBD is a biologically active compound, and as such, it may also have unintended consequences. These include known side effects of CBD, but also unintended interactions with supplements, herbal products, and over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications.
Many drugs are broken down by enzymes in the liver, and CBD may compete for or interfere with these enzymes, leading to too much or not enough of the drug in the body, called altered concentration. The altered concentration, in turn, may lead to the medication not working, or an increased risk of side effects. Such drug interactions are usually hard to predict but can cause unpleasant and sometimes serious problems.
Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine evaluated existing information on five prescription CBD and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabinoid medications: antinausea medications used during cancer treatment (Marinol, Syndros, Cesamet); a medication used primarily for muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis (Sativex, which is not currently available in the US, but available in other countries); and an antiseizure medication (Epidiolex). Overall, the researchers identified 139 medications that may be affected by cannabinoids. This list was further narrowed to 57 medications, for which altered concentration can be dangerous. The list contains a variety of drugs from heart medications to antibiotics, although not all the drugs on the list may be affected by CBD-only products (some are only affected by THC). Potentially serious drug interactions with CBD included
Nowadays, more people are turning to CBD to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, scientists are still trying to ascertain exactly how the cannabinoid works for these conditions.
The most common Lexapro side effects include:
How Does the Body Process CBD?
Taking CBD alongside Lexapro may increase the amount of antidepressants in the body. One might assume this is a positive thing, but it significantly increases the risk of harmful side effects if taken together.
If you are taking Lexapro and would like to give CBD a try, talk to your physician first. They will guide you in managing your drug regimen safely and finding an effective dose.
However, that is not to say that CBD has no psychoactive effects whatsoever. In fact, it has become well known for its supposed anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties.