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Learn | 05.28.2024

Can You Mix Weed With Antibiotics?

Cannabis meets antibiotics: Not always a happy high.

You might feel the pull towards your cannabis stash when feeling under the weather—after all, what better way to shake off those nasty symptoms than with a quick session?

But before you indulge, mixing your medication with cannabis might backfire due to possible interactions between the two.

Here, we’ll explore which antibiotics commonly interact with cannabis and discuss the major issue behind this combination.

How Do Antibiotics Work?

Bacteria are microscopic germs that can live in your surroundings, skin, and even inside your body. While some bacteria are beneficial and promote health, others can cause mild to severe infections.

Antibiotics are designed to combat harmful bacteria by killing them directly or preventing their multiplication. They achieve this by damaging the bacteria’s cell structures or DNA.

However, antibiotics can’t tell the difference between harmful and beneficial bacteria in your body, leading to potential side effects. The killing of this beneficial bacteria by antibiotics has sparked a larger conversation about the role of antibiotics in increasing the risk of conditions like depression.

Naturally, this intrigues scientists to find antibacterial treatments that don’t involve the use of antibiotic drugs, with cannabis being a possible contender.

How Cannabis Interacts With Antibiotics

Mixing cannabis with antibiotics presents a complex scenario, largely dependent on the type of antibiotic you’re taking.

Cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBG possess antibacterial properties, actively combating certain bacterial strains that could be causing your illness.

But, when you combine these cannabinoids present in cannabis with antibiotics, the effectiveness of either can be largely reduced. This is because cannabinoids found in weed and many common antibiotics target the same group of enzymes in your liver, specifically the CYP3A4 enzyme in the cytochrome P450 group. This overlap can lead to what’s known as the ‘grapefruit effect,’ where the presence of another substance, like THC or CBD, can slow the breakdown of the antibiotic in the body.

The slowed breakdown of antibiotics in your body could mean they linger at higher levels for longer than intended, which can ramp up side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It may also lessen the medication’s effectiveness, leaving you sicker for longer.

It’s important to note that not all antibiotics will interact with cannabis.

Some of the common antibiotics that may interact with cannabis include:

  • Erythromycin

  • Clarithromycin

  • Ciprofloxacin

  • Levofloxacin

  • Rifampin

  • Amoxicillin

Penn State University has published a comprehensive list of medications, including many antibiotics, that may or may not interact with cannabis. Consult this resource and, importantly, your doctor to understand whether your specific antibiotic might have a significant interaction with cannabis.

Smoking Cannabis While Taking Antibiotics For Respiratory Infections

If you’re dealing with a respiratory infection and are on antibiotics, it’s probably best to hold off on smoking cannabis.

Smoking any substance, including cannabis, irritates your airways and introduces smoke with irritants into your lungs, exacerbating symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, which can delay your recovery.

And several antibiotics prescribed for respiratory infections do interact with THC and CBD.

So, Can I Combine Weed And Antibiotics?

The short answer is that it depends on the antibiotic you’re taking. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD will interact with some typically prescribed antibiotics.

Take a look at the medication list mentioned earlier, and always consult with your doctor or local pharmacist. They can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances and the type of antibiotics you’re using.

Remember, it’s always better to play it safe when it comes to your health.

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