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zoloft and cbd oil

What You Need To Know About CBD If You Take Antidepressants

There’s no denying that CBD, aka cannabidiol, was the reigning trend of last year, and shows no signs of stopping. From edible products and tinctures, to bath and beauty products, CBD was (and is) everywhere. Though touted as a natural, holistic, and safe way to manage a variety of health issues, you may be wondering if you can take CBD and antidepressants together. And while CBD is touted as an all-natural supplement with some evidence that it can be good for your health, it’s possible that your CBD latte can still impact the efficacy of different medications — including antidepressants.

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.

“Generally speaking, you can safely use CBD supplements when you’re taking antidepressants. However, there are a couple concerns,” 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 recent 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.

So, what can potentially happen if you take CBD when on 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.”

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.

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.

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.

When it comes down to it, Grinspoon says that the potential interactions should be regarded as more “hypothetical than real,” and that the side effect profile of CBD is “very minimal.” Of course, it’s always good to have a conversation with your physician about potential interactions, and to disclose any prescribed or over-the-counter medications and supplements you are taking. At the end of the day, using CBD supplements while on antidepressants is an individual choice, but it’s important to go in informed.

Readers should note that the regulations and data surrounding marijuana, CBD, and other related products are still developing. As such, the information contained in this post should not be construed as medical or legal advice. Always consult with your doctor before trying any substance or supplement.

There’s no denying that CBD, aka cannabidiol, was the reigning trend of last year, and shows no signs of stopping. From edible products and tinctures, to bath and beauty products, CBD was (and is) everywhere. Though touted as a natural, holistic,…

CBD Oil and Zoloft: Dangerous To Use CBD When On SSRI?

Person holding pills and softgels on their hand

More than one-hundred million Americans are on antidepressant medications, and tens of millions of them take Zoloft on a daily basis. In fact, Zoloft is the most commonly-prescribed psych med in the United States, even more popular than other drugs in the “SSRI” class like Lexapro, Paxil, Celexa and Prozac. (Zoloft is the brand name for the medication sertraline.)

Nearly 35 million Americans are considered “regular users” of marijuana, with another 20 million said to indulge occasionally. As you undoubtedly know, pot contains a number of cannabinoids – not just THC, but also CBD.

And a growing number of Americans say they use CBD-based products; the latest estimate from the Gallup polling organization puts that figure at 14% of all adults.

Needless to say, there’s a decent amount of crossover between those taking Zoloft and those consuming CBD. That’s even easier to believe when you consider that:

  • People take antidepressants, including SSRIs like Zoloft, to fight stress and depression.
  • Existing evidence on CBD products shows that they’re often useful to fight stress and depression.
  • And, of course, one of the major effects of using cannabis is that it relieves – say it with us – stress and depression.

Is using some or all of them at the same time a problem?

It’s possible; there’s very little research on the subject. But if it is a problem, it’s probably not a major issue for most people.

Cannabinoids and Zoloft: What We Know

Zoloft packaging in a black background

There has only been one rigorous medical review examining the effects of combining Zoloft (or similar SSRIs) and CBD use. It was done at the University of Connecticut and considered all the evidence involving concurrent use of antidepressants (“psychotropic” drugs) and psychoactive drugs like cannabis.

What the researchers found was surprising: there are very few reports of adverse interactions.

They say that maybe because those who use pot are afraid to report any problems they may experience. However, doctors prescribe newer generations of psych meds (like Zoloft) because they’re much less likely to cause drug interactions, so the researchers believe it’s very possible that harmful interactions with CBD or THC are “relatively rare or do not happen.”

CBD and Zoloft: What Medical Experts Think

The rest of the “knowledge” that exists about combining CBD and SSRIs like Zoloft isn’t really knowledge. It’s mostly anecdotal evidence and common sense.

Drug interaction databases note that both CBD and Zoloft can cause some of the same side effects, like drowsiness, dizziness, and loss of concentration. So using them together can potentially increase the severity of those side effects. They only classify the interaction as “moderate,” though, meaning you should simply be careful when mixing the two drugs, and watch carefully for negative effects until you know how you’re affected.

There’s only one study providing more specific information about that possible interaction, and it was done nearly ten years ago in Japan. The research found that CBD may block the optimal performance of the liver enzymes which help the body absorb antidepressants. In simple terms, taking CBD may cause Zoloft and other SSRIs to build up in the body in greater amounts than normal, increasing the effects – and side effects – of the antidepressant.

The conclusions that can be drawn? You should, of course, talk to your doctor before taking any new medications (prescription or non-prescription). If you combine Zoloft with either CBD or weed, however, you should be fine. Just be careful, because you could end up more zoned out than you expect.

Aspiring political journalist & small-town stoner currently living in Los Angeles. My day job consists of studying the mental health effects of cannabis in my role as a mental health case manager at Kaiser Permanente. By night, I roll fat joints and do my best to debrief Weed News readers on the latest cannabis happenings.

CBD and SSRI medications like Zoloft each can treat stress and depression and have similar side effects – is it safe to take both of them at the same time?