Today’s article seeks to answer a simple query. Can you take CBD oil with Effexor XR? Is it safe to do so? In order to answer this query successfully, we first need to understand what Effexor XR is and how it works. From there, we can answer the query with minimal guesswork.
What Is Effexor XR and What Is It Used For?
Effexor XR is an SNRI antidepressant. SNRI stands for Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor and XR stands for extended-release. Extended-release means that your medication is slowly released over time in your body. What Effexor XR does when it’s released is block the neurotransmitters Serotonin and Norepinephrine from being absorbed by your neurons, hence the naming in the class of drugs. Blocking the absorption of both neurotransmitters makes them more abundant in your brain and body.
The main active ingredient in Effexor XR is Venlafaxine Hydrochloride. It is used to treat conditions such as major depressive disorder, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. The idea behind Effexor XR is that if Serotonin and Norepinephrine are made abundant in your system then this may improve your mood and energy levels, and may help restore your interest in daily living. In addition to that, if the drug is slow-released then you may experience fewer side effects due to drug levels remaining consistent over time as opposed to spiking and dipping.
What Are The Side Effects Associated With Effexor XR?
It’s commonplace to know that pharmaceutical drugs come with negative side effects. And, Effexor XR is no exception as it comes with quite a lot of side effects. I’ve broken up Effexor XR’s side effects into four groups. They are the ‘common’ side effects, the ‘worsening’ side effects, the ‘severe’ effects, and the ‘exclusive’ side effects.
And, on top of these groups, there is also a likelihood of getting a condition called Serotonin Syndrome, which we’ll address later. For now, let’s look at the side effects associated with Effexor XR starting with the ‘common’ side effect profile. Common side effects include:
- Drowsiness and yawning
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Blurred vision
- Increased sweating
- Increased blood pressure
- Decreased libido (sex drive), impotence, premature ejaculation, and difficulty gaining orgasm
If you thought that was bad, Effexor XR may worsen your depression and anxiety symptoms. This is part of the ‘worsening’ side effects profile. As opposed to improving your condition, Effexor XR may make your condition worse. Worsening side effects include:
- Mood or behavior changes
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Irritability and agitation
- Hostility and aggressiveness
- Hyperactivity (mental and physical)
- Self-harm and suicidal thoughts
Next up we have the ‘severe’ side effects profile to be aware of. It’s advised that you seek professional medical assistance immediately if you experience any of the following severe side effects:
- Blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, seeing halos around lights
- Easy bruising or bleeding, nose bleeds, bleeding gums, blood in your urine or stool, coughing up blood
- Chest tightness, trouble breathing, coughing
- Low sodium levels; headaches, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady, low sodium levels
- Severe nervous system reaction; very stiff rigid muscles, high fever, sweating confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you’ll pass out
- Seizures (convulsions)
Before we get to the ‘exclusive’ side effect profile, you should that you may get a condition called Serotonin Syndrome if you take Effexor XR. Serotonin Syndrome is a condition where you have an over-abundance of serotonin in your brain and body causing the following symptoms to manifest:
- Fever, sweating, and shivering
- Sped-up heart rate
- Muscle stiffness
- Loss of coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
And finally, we have the ‘exclusive’ side effect profile. These side effects are exclusive to youth under the age of 25. If you’re under 25 years old and you take Effexor XR, you are most likely to experience:
- Worsening depression
- Suicidal thoughts
Doctors advise carers to keep a close eye on you for any changes in behavior. If your carer notices a negative change in behavior, they are to report it to your doctor immediately. So much for Effexor XR making your condition better.
What Are The Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Effexor XR?
Before we get into whether it’s safe or not to take CBD oil with Effexor XR, we need to address the withdrawal symptoms. There are some people who’ve been taking Effexor XR for a while and are looking to wean off it with the help of cannabis therapy. There is a way of doing that with a good strategy and professional guidance, which we’ll get to in this article. However, you first need to understand what happens if you just stop taking Effexor XR cold turkey.
Effexor XR is a synthetic drug, which means it comes with withdrawal symptoms. The longer you’ve been taking this drug, the more intense its withdrawal symptoms will be. Effexor XR’s withdrawal symptoms are split into two groups. One being the physiological withdrawal symptoms and the other being the cognitive withdrawal symptoms.
The list of physiological withdrawal symptoms includes:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Muscle pain
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal sensory disturbances
The list of cognitive withdrawal symptoms includes:
- Nightmares (or excessive dreams)
- Concentration problems
- Worsening depression and anxiety
- Cataplexy (loss of muscle tone triggered by strong emotion)
Now that we understand what we are dealing with regarding Effexor XR, we can now tackle the question of the day. We can now look into the safety aspect of taking CBD oil with Effexor XR and work out how to do so with minimal risk.
Can You Take CBD Oil With Effexor XR?
From a safety perspective, the simple and blunt answer is no. It’s not safe to take CBD oil with Effexor XR. The risk of something going wrong is extremely high. Specifically, you’re looking at drug interactions that could cause heightened negative side effects, increased risk of getting serotonin syndrome, and potential liver failure.
However, not all hope is lost. If your goal is to wean yourself off Effexor XR with CBD oil. If your goal is to reduce the impact of the side effects then there is a way for you. It will require you to be very disciplined and strategic with your approach, but the fruit will be worth the labor. First, we need to understand the risks involved.
How RISKY Is It To Take CBD Oil With Effexor XR?
What you need to understand initially is that up to 80% of all pharmaceutical drugs are broken down in your liver. This is done by a group of enzymes called Cytochrome P450 (CYP450). The drugs your liver breaks down include Effexor XR as well as the well-known cannabinoids CBD and THC.
When you take CBD oil with Effexor XR, you are most likely to induce an adverse mechanism in your liver called “competitive inhibition”. This is where the CBD, THC, and Effexor XR compete for the same metabolic enzymes blocking one of them from being broken down. Of the three, Effexor XR is the riskiest drug to prevent from being broken down due to its negative side effect profile. Thus, you’re most likely to experience one of three negative risk outcomes, if not a combination.
The first risk that may occur is that you’ll experience the heightened side effects of Effexor XR. When Effexor XR is blocked from being metabolized, more of the serum is made abundant in your system. If more of the serum is made abundant in you, then you’ll experience either a wider variety of side effects or more intense manifestations of your current side effects. This adverse interaction is commonly referred to as the ‘grapefruit effect‘. Hence, if you mix CBD oil with Effexor XR, your side effects may get worse or you will have side effects to deal with.
The second risk that may occur is that you’ll get serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome happens when you take pharmaceutical drugs that increase the levels of serotonin in your system. Serotonin is a chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that your body produces and is needed for your nerves and brain cells to function. According to MayoClinic, serotonin syndrome occurs when you increase the dose of certain medication or add a new drug to your regimen. An overabundance of serotonin in your system causes a range of symptoms previously highlighted in the side effect profile of Effexor XR.
The third risk that may occur is that you will experience liver failure and possible damage. Liver failure is described as a loss of liver function caused by a multitude of reasons. Some of the causes of liver failure include prescription drug use, herbal supplements, toxins, and overwhelming liver function to name but a few. Liver failure occurs when liver cells are damaged and can no longer perform their function. And, the symptoms of liver failure include:
- Jaundice (yellowing of your skin and eyeballs)
- Pain in your upper right abdomen
- Abdominal swelling
- Malaise (general sense of feeling unwell)
- Disorientation (or confusion)
Okay, so those are the risks involved with taking CBD oil with Effexor XR. And, so far, the presumption is that you’d be taking them at the same time. But, what if your goal is to wean yourself off Effexor XR with CBD oil? Is there a safe way to do it? I’m happy to report that there is and that is what the next section of this article covers.
Can You SAFELY Take CBD Oil With Effexor XR?
The medical community is split as to whether there’s a safe way of taking CBD oil with any antidepressant. Anti-cannabis medical professionals argue that SNRIs, such as Effexor XR, and cannabis both have psychoactive effects in humans. Hence, it is their belief that taking them together may cause negative psychoactive effects.
However, pro-cannabis medical professionals argue that cannabis is generally safe to take with SNRIs provided you’re strategic and careful with your approach. If not, you’re at risk of experiencing the adverse effects caused by drug interactions already covered in this article. So, how can one be careful and strategic to prevent adverse effects from drug interactions?
What pro-cannabis medical professional generally recommend you do is abide by the following steps:
- Space out the time between your drug administrations (1 – 3 hours generally)
- Microdose your cannabis therapy treatment (especially at the beginning)
- Slowly increase your cannabis therapy dosage over time
- Track and record your treatment actions and results in a personal journal
- Find and consult with a pro-cannabis medical professional (if you have access to one)
This first strategy is to space out the time between your different drug administrations. Due to the fact that Effexor XR and CBD oil use the same metabolic enzymes to be broken down, pro-cannabis doctors recommend spacing out the time between administrations. This prevents Effexor XR from being blocked by CBD or THC from being broken. And, it also prevents your liver from being overwhelmed with work. The general time frame doctors recommend is about 1 – 3 hours. This gives your liver enough time to do its job.
The second strategy pro-cannabis doctors recommend is a strategy called Micro-dosing. Microdosing is the practice of taking a minimal amount of a given substance to achieve your desired results. With respect to CBD oil, people consume very small amounts throughout the day to achieve results such as reduced anxiety and reduced depression. Doses can be as low as 2 – 3 milligrams per serving with the average dose range being around 3 – 10 milligrams per serve. Microdosing enables you to experience the benefits of CBD oil without getting ‘high’ if the THC concentration is too high.
The third strategy pro-cannabis doctors recommend is to slowly increase your dosage over time. In a practical setting, this means increasing your CBD oil dosage slightly every couple of days while paying close attention to the effects you experience. For example, if you start to feel lethargic or dizzy after a dose increase, then you should reduce your dosage slightly to a point where you do not feel dizzy or lethargic anymore. Then you can stay at the reduced dosage level for a few days before attempting to increase your dosage again.
The fourth strategy pro-cannabis doctors recommend is to track and record your actions and results in a personal journal. A personal journal is one of the most valuable tools at your disposal on the road to recovery. You want to track everything from the type of CBD oil you take, the concentration levels, dose amounts, dosage frequency in a day, and the effects experienced. This enables you to keep a close eye on how your body responds to your cannabis therapy whether positive or negative.
The fifth and final strategy is to consult with a pro-cannabis medical professional. Be it a doctor or a nurse, you’re always better off working with a professional. This strategy can be challenging for a lot of patients as cannabis laws are still in a legal grey area in a lot of regions of the world. However, because of the Internet, you have access to doctors around the world. Your only challenge is to find one who will consult with you and provide guidance along your journey.
For example, here’s an excerpt from Nursing Practitioner, Tatiana Gonzalez consulting with a patient regarding cannabis-based treatment for SNRI withdrawal symptoms:
SNRI withdrawal symptoms can be debilitating and can last up to three months or longer. It is recommended to taper off the medication as opposed to abruptly stopping it. Either way, I would advise that it is safe to consume CBD but stay away from THC as it can induce anxiety during withdrawal. The CBD may help you feel calmer and ease depressive symptoms. I would recommend to start with a very low dosage of CBD (2.5mg – 5mg) and taper up depending on how you feel.
It is very risky to take CBD oil with Effexor XR especially if you do it at the same time. However, you can take CBD oil with Effexor XR provided you are strategic and careful with your approach. If you do take them at the same time, you are may induce “competitive inhibition”, which can cause severe negative effects from heightened side effects to serotonin syndrome to potential liver failure.
Patients are turning to CBD oil to either reduce the impact of the negative side effects or to assist with weaning off Effexor XR altogether. Hence, there should NOT be any doubt in your mind that you will be able to achieve positive results provided you are strategic and careful. Specifically, if you use the strategies recommended by pro-cannabis doctors earlier in this article. Your two main challenges will be finding a pro-cannabis doctor in your area and finding a suitable CBD oil solution that will assist you in getting results.
Regarding finding a pro-cannabis doctor, you will have to do some leg work because, for every 1 pro-cannabis doctor in practice, there are 100 anti-cannabis doctors. However, do not let this discourage you. Pro-cannabis doctors do exist and you can find them. You just have to look and be persistent until you find one willing and able to work with you.
- Bibi, Z. Role of cytochrome P450 in drug interactions. Nutr Metab (Lond) 5, 27 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-5-27