Research, Treatment

Is it Safe to Consume Cannabis While Taking Antibiotics?

January 22, 2020 12:50 pm ET
Is it Safe to Consume Cannabis While Taking Antibiotics?

Many use cannabis for its pain-relieving properties. A good smoke, or even a cup of cannabis-infused tea, can be just the thing to help you deal with the symptoms of chronic pain. And there are many who choose to use cannabis to combat acute pain as well. When you have a cold or the flu, for example, cannabis might help to clear your head and relax your muscles, making you feel a little better.

But what about when you’re taking antibiotics? Most people know that it’s vital, while on antibiotics, to be careful of drug interactions. That’s why your doctor always wants to know what medications you’re already taking before prescribing anything else.

So, is it safe to consume cannabis while you’re taking antibiotics?

Will Cannabis Reduce the Effectiveness of my Antibiotics?

You don’t want to see the effects of the antibiotics you’ve been given neutralized. If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, he wants you to take the full course of medication to make sure your infection is killed completely. So the idea of antibiotics’ effectiveness being lessened should absolutely be a dealbreaker.

Fortunately, the evidence so far seems to suggest that cannabis will not interfere with antibiotics. In fact, cannabis has shown in studies to have antibacterial properties itself, proving effective against the difficult-to-treat MRSA bacterium. It may be only a matter of time before doctors are ready to add cannabis to the regimen of antibiotics they prescribe for patients who are having trouble kicking a nasty infection.

On that front, then, there is probably little to worry about. Likely, you can still use cannabis while on antibiotics and the antibiotics should still do their job just fine.

What are the Risks of Using Cannabis While on Antibiotics?

Your antibiotics will probably still be effective, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t without risk. It’s important to understand that different drugs use different metabolic pathways in the liver. The metabolic pathway that processes cannabinoids is the same one used by many prescription drugs, including some antibiotics.

Is that a problem? 

The short answer is likely not. Despite using some of the same metabolic pathways, most medications don’t interact negatively with cannabis. And if they do, the interactions are non-life threatening.

The somewhat longer answer is that we can’t be sure since satisfactory testing has not yet been done on cannabis and its full effects on the body. And it’s important to remember that every person is different. If you have a friend or family member who used cannabis while taking a certain antibiotic and reported no ill effects, that’s a good sign. But it’s not an absolute guarantee. Your experience might be different from your friend’s, just as everyone has a slightly different experience when getting high.

The Final Verdict?

It’s probably okay to go ahead and take your antibiotics and consume cannabis—but we highly encourage that you consult with your doctor before doing so. They are the expert on the antibiotic they’re prescribing, and they’ll be able to tell you with authority whether or not it’s a good idea. Remember that despite the legal status of cannabis where you live, bringing questions to your doctor is always allowed, and your conversations are confidential. Your doctor will provide you medical advice without legal judgment.

Remember to consume cannabis with care, and in moderation at first, when dealing with a non-chronic illness, as your body may be more sensitive to the effects of the substance.

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