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Some Things to Consider Before Starting CBD

Wendy is a self-proclaimed "Cannabis Ambassador" and runs SC Smoke Shop with her husband in Greenville, SC.

CBD – The Good News

CBD is being hailed as a safe, highly beneficial way to address many health concerns. The term CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is one of many compounds found in the cannabis plant. Collectively, these compounds are called cannabinoids. Scientists have discovered that the human body is specifically designed to use cannabinoids to help regulate itself.

The discovery of the importance of the endocannabinoid system in maintaining health has fueled research and interest in just what CBD can do. It is being praised for its ability to do everything from lower anxiety, decrease inflammation, fight cancer, control seizures and even slow the progress of Alzheimer's. Through various studies, CBD has been found to be largely well tolerated in healthy adults in a wide range of dosing and intake methods. For the most part, side effects are mild and can include tiredness, dry-mouth, and sometimes a lowering of blood pressure and lightheadedness. Pregnant women and those below legal age should avoid taking it. A report by the World Health Organization states that CBD is not only well tolerated in healthy adults; it shows little to no chance of causing addiction.

So far, the results of a vast array of studies shows that CBD shows great promise for its health benefits.

But only snake oil salesmen would try to convince the public that a product is wholly without drawbacks, that there is one right potion to cure everyone of everything, every time. Doesn't logic dictate that something so powerful must at least have some of the same power to do harm as it has to do good?

What's the Catch?

Most of the side affects listed above are of minor consideration in otherwise healthy adults, but not every adult is healthy. Many people take medications that are the difference between life and death or are on therapies that combat chronic conditions or potentially terminal diseases. What does the promise of CBD mean to those who are already on medications that they depend on?

Everyone wants to feel healthy and strong. This drive may be even stronger for those who are in a continuing state of compromised health and vague, positive information about CBD may encourage some to “just try it and see what it does.”


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How CBD Affects Other Medications

One aspect of CBD that needs to be taken into very serious consideration before taking it is its potential interaction with other drugs. If you are on any prescribed medications, begin your education with this article, but be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning to take CBD.

In some cases, as the body absorbs CBD, it can affect how other medicines are metabolized. Studies have shown that the same medicines which interact with the consumption of grapefruit are affected by CBD, but to an even greater extent. CBD binds to the same receptors as a key liver enzyme, cytochrome P450, keeping it from metabolizing other compounds. Additionally, CBD is itself metabolized by cytochrome P450, further limiting the enzyme's ability to process competing substances. Many medicines are designed to take effect after they have been metabolized by cytochrome P450. This slowed processing of medication can be either positive or negative, depending on the nature of the medicine in question.

Beneficially, CBD may allow a medication to work more slowly and effectively. This can provide an opportunity for lowering the dosage of pharmaceuticals. This can reduce trips to the doctor, decrease medical costs, and also lower the impact of side effects.

However, hand in hand with this comes certain increased risks; cautious patients need to be aware of these potentialities. Low doses of CBD may act at a level that simply blocks the receptors for both compounds, altering the original drugs uptake but not present in sufficient enough quantities to contribute its own beneficial effects. CBD, by preventing a given pharmaceutical from being efficiently metabolized, may cause drugs to linger at dangerous levels in the body for extended periods of time. When combining CBD with other medications dosing is key.

What Else?

Very little information is available about the effects of vaping versus ingesting CBD in terms of drug interactions. CBD can be vaped, absorbing directly into the bloodstream and bypassing the digestive system. Future research must be done to determine if vaping may be a safe alternative for those whose other medications may preclude the oral ingestion of CBD.

Further, there is evidence to suggest that CBD on its own may react differently in your body than when kept in combination with the other elements innate to cannabis. Whole-plant CBD products, which retain amino acids, fatty acids, terpines, and other cannabinoids inherent to the plant, have been shown to work synergistically and may in fact react differently than a CBD isolate, which consists solely of the single cannabinoid, canabodiol. The inclusion of varying levels of THC with CBD, where legal, has been shown to have varying effects as well.

CBD is good, but it's not too good to be true. It is not a cure-all or panacea, but it does show great promise to help healthy people stay well and to help those with health issues live happier, healthier, and fuller lives. Making an informed decision about its use in combination with other drugs is essential. Make sure to ask your doctor before starting this or any other change.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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