Today’s article seeks to answer a simple query. Can you take CBD oil with Lorazepam? In order to successfully answer this query, we need to first understand what Lorazepam is, how it works, and what it’s used for. From there, we can answer the query as clearly as possible. And, understand what the risks are with taking CBD oil with Lorazepam.
What Is Lorazepam And What Is It Used For?
Lorazepam is a synthetic drug belonging to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are a type of drug commonly known as tranquilizers. Tranquilizers fall into one of two categories, which are major and minor tranquilizers. Of the two groups of tranquilizers, Lorazepam is part of the minor tranquilizer group.
Major tranquilizers are also known as antipsychotic agents or neuroleptics by the medical community. This is because they’re used to treat major states of mental disorders like schizophrenia. Minor tranquilizers are also known as anti-anxiety agents or anxiolytics by the medical community. This is because they’re used to treat minor states of mental disorders like anxiety, for example.
Lorazepam is sold under the name Ativan. It’s used to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, epilepsy, seizures, alcohol withdrawal, nausea, and vomiting from cancer treatment, and is used as anesthesia before surgery. They both act on your central nervous system (CNS) to produce a sedative effect. Very similar, if not the same, to Diazepam.
Lorazepam works by enhancing the effects of a naturally occurring neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) called GABA, which stands for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. One of the key functions of GABA is to regulate stress, anxiety, and fear by blocking specific brain signals to produce a calming effect. GABA is also known to be able to help prevent seizures.
What Are The Side Effects Of Lorazepam?
Like most, if not all, synthetic drugs, Lorazepam has a negative side effect profile. Its side effect profile is split into 3 groups namely ‘common’ side effects, ‘serious’ side effects, and ‘allergic reaction’ side effects. Lorazepam’s common side effect profile is as follows but not limited to:
- Severe drowsiness
- Dizziness and accidental falls
- Feeling unsteady
- A sudden feeling of restlessness and excitement
- Vision changes
- Worsened insomnia
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- Lower back or side pain
- Dark urine
- Loss of interest in sex
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hair loss or thinning
The ‘serious’ side effect profile of Lorazepam is as follows but not limited to:
- Loss of consciousness
- Induce a coma
- Decreased urine output
- Irregular heartbeat
- Pale or blue lips, fingernails, and skin
- Memory problems
- Stiffness of the limbs
- Suicidal thoughts and self-harm
- Chest tightness
- Unexplained or unusual bleeding or bruising
- Vomiting blood
- Shuffle walking
The ‘allergic reaction’ side effect profile of Lorazepam includes but is not limited to:
- Difficulty breathing and/or swallowing
- Hives rash
- Itching and puffiness
- Swelling of eyes, face, lips, tongue, or inside the nose
- Reddening of the skin around the ears
- Sore throat
- Sore ulcers or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
What Are The Withdrawal Symptoms Of Lorazepam?
Before looking into the risk factors of taking Lorazepam with CBD oil, we need to highlight Lorazepam withdrawal symptoms. You may be looking to wean off Lorazepam and that is an admirable goal. However, you need to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into by doing that.
Withdrawal from a benzodiazepine like Ativan can be potentially dangerous and even fatal. This is due to the potential to develop seizures during the withdrawal process. Withdrawal may begin with rebound effects that consist of anxiety, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and difficulty sleeping. With that onset of symptoms, the withdrawal symptoms of Lorazepam include but are not limited to:
- Tremors (especially in the hands)
- Difficulty concentrating and confusion
- Increased blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Abdominal cramps
- Vomiting and/or weight loss
- Irritability, anxiety, mood swings, and/or panic attacks
Now that we’re aware of what we’re dealing with when it comes to Lorazepam, we can address the question of the day.
Can You Take CBD Oil With Lorazepam?
From a safety perspective, it’s a bad idea to take CBD oil with Lorazepam. The risk of something going wrong is very high. To be specific, you’re looking at drug interactions that could cause intensified negative side effects, exposure to a wider range of negative side effects, and an increased risk of liver failure.
However, if your goal is to wean off Lorazepam using CBD oil, then there is a safe approach you can adopt. It will require you to be very strategic and disciplined, but the fruit will be worth your labor. Before we get into that, we first need to understand the risks we face. This will provide context for the recommended safe approach outlined later in this article.
How Risky Is It To Take Lorazepam With CBD Oil?
It’s risky to take CBD oil with Lorazepam because up to 80% of all pharmaceutical drugs are broken down in your liver. Metabolism of prescription drugs is done by a group of enzymes called Cytochrome P450 (CYP450). This also includes Lorazepam, CBD, THC, and the entire cannabinoid entourage.
When you take CBD oil with Lorazepam, you will most likely induce a mechanism called ‘competitive inhibition’. This is where different medications are taken together to compete for the same metabolic enzymes in your liver. In this case, the competition is between CBD, THC, and Lorazepam.
The worst-case scenario is that Lorazepam will get blocked from being broken down by CBD and THC molecules. If it’s blocked from being broken down, then more of it is made abundant in your system. This will most likely cause you to experience either intensified side effects and/or a wider range of side effects. In addition, you may also experience liver failure because your liver may get overwhelmed.
The first risk you face is either intensified side effects or a wider range of Lorazepam side effects. When Lorazepam is blocked from being metabolized, more of it is made abundant in your system. The more Lorazepam that lies present in your system, the more exposure you have to intensified or additional side effects. Again, this is due to a process called ‘competitive inhibition’ also known as the ‘grapefruit effect‘. Thus, the risk of taking CBD oil and Lorazepam is the high likelihood of intensified and/or multiplied side effects.
The next risk you face is experiencing liver failure. Liver failure is described as a loss of liver function caused by a multitude of reasons. Some of the causes related to our topic include prescription drug use, herbal supplements, toxins, and over-taxing your liver function to name only a few. Liver failure occurs when liver cells are damaged and can no longer perform their function. 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)
If you remember, earlier in this article, in the ‘serious’ side effects profile, one of the side effects mentioned was Jaundice, which is the yellowing of your skin and eyes. This indicates that you may experience liver failure even before adding CBD oil to your regimen. This supports the stance that taking both CBD oil and Lorazepam together is a bad idea. Not only could you get liver failure from Lorazepam alone, but you could increase the likelihood of it happening if you take it together with CBD oil.
So, those are the obvious risks of taking CBD oil with Lorazepam. So far, the presumption is that you’d take them at more or less the same time. But, if your goal is to wean off Lorazepam, or at least reduce the impact of side effects, is there a safe way to do it using CBD oil? I’m glad to report that there is and that is what the next section of this article covers.
How Can You Safely Take CBD Oil With Lorazepam?
A majority of pro-cannabis medical professionals state that it’s generally safe to take CBD oil with prescription meds provided you’re strategic and careful with your approach. If you’re not strategic and careful with your approach then you face the risks we’ve already covered in this article.
So this begs the question…
What does it mean to be strategic and careful with your approach? How can you use CBD oil to wean off Lorazepam or reduce its side effects? Great question and the following 5 strategies are your answer:
- A Personal Medical Journal – Having a personal medical journal is the most important strategy at your disposal. Arguably, even more, important than placing the first drop of CBD oil into your system. A personal medical journal will enable you to track and record your actions and results so you progressively eliminate the guesswork that comes with cannabis therapy. On your road to recovery, you will need to record personal data such as:
- What condition(s) you’re treating for
- The type of CBD oil you’re using (full spectrum/broad spectrum)
- The CBD and/or THC concentration levels (mg per bottle)
- The type of cannabis plant used to make the CBD oil (Sativa/Indica/hybrid)
- The carrier oil used in the CBD oil you’re using (MCT oil/olive oil/hemp seed oil)
- Your dosage amounts per administration (mg’s per drop/drops per administration/mg per administration)
- Your dosage frequency (i.e. once, twice, or thrice per day)
- What results you’re experiencing on a day-to-day basis (positive/negative)
- Spacing Out Time Between Drug Administrations – Spacing out the time between your drug’s administrations will prevent you from causing liver failure. Or, at a bare minimum, it will significantly reduce the risk of liver failure. Pro-cannabis doctors generally recommend giving your body 1 – 3 hours for drug metabolism to complete. Of course, the timing also depends on how fast your metabolism is. If your goal is to wean off Diazepam, then you’d be looking at starting with CBD oil first and then taking Diazepam if necessary. However, if your goal is to reduce the impact of your side effects then you’d be looking at starting with Diazepam first then CBD oil.
- Microdosing Your CBD Oil – 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 of full-spectrum CBD oil 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 without getting the ‘high’ from THC.
- Slowly Increase Your CBD Oil 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. And, of course, record everything in your journal. For example, if you start feeling 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 dose again.
- Find 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 as cannabis laws are still in a legal grey area in many parts of the world. However, thanks to the Internet, you now have access to doctors in pro-cannabis countries. Your only challenge is to find one who will consult with you via Zoom and provide guidance along your journey. If you’re tracking everything in your medical journal, this will make your doctor’s job a whole lot easier and I’m sure they’ll be happy to work with you.
What Are The Side Effects Of CBD Oil?
Seeing that we’ve looked at the side effect profile of Lorazepam, it wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t do so for CBD oil. To answer this question, we need to look at the results of a 2020 meta-analysis systematic review and a 2017 clinical review journal. The results from these two reviews will help you understand just how safe cannabis therapy is compared to Lorazepam.
In the year 2020, researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the adverse effects of CBD (cannabidiol) in patients with varying conditions. The researchers looked at randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials lasting longer than 7 days. They reviewed 12 clinical trials with a total of 803 participants to glean data from. The researchers found the following negative side effects:
- Somnolence (i.e. sleepiness or drowsiness)
- Abnormal liver function
The researchers pointed out that:
Associations with abnormal liver function tests, somnolence, sedation and pneumonia were limited to childhood epilepsy studies, where CBD may have interacted with other medications such as clobazam and/or sodium valproate.
When the researchers excluded the childhood epilepsy studies, they found that the only negative side effect associated with CBD treatment was diarrhea. The researchers concluded their analysis by stating that:
In 2017, researchers set out to update results established in 2011 regarding the safety and side effects of CBD. The researcher’s focus in this review was on clinical studies and potential interactions CBD has with other drugs. The majority of the clinical studies reviewed in their update were for the treatment of epilepsy and psychotic disorders. In these studies, the most common negative side effects reported were:
- Appetite or weight fluctuations
The researchers stated that:
The researchers concluded their review by stating that CBD’s safety profile is already established in a multitude of ways as being very favorable for patients. Thus, various areas of CBD research should be extended to close knowledge gaps and have a completely well-tested compound for mainstream use.
People are turning to cannabis therapy over prescription meds. However, it’s very risky to take CBD oil with Lorazepam, especially at the same time. If you take them at the same time, you’re likely to induce the ‘grapefruit effect’ (competition inhibition), which can cause intensified, multiplied side effects, and liver failure. However, you can take CBD oil with Lorazepam provided you are strategic and careful.
Patients are using CBD oil to wean off drugs like Lorazepam or to reduce the impact of its side effects. 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. Especially, if you employ the strategies proposed in this article.
- Bibi, Z. Role of cytochrome P450 in drug interactions. Nutr Metab (Lond) 5, 27 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-5-27
- Chesney, E., Oliver, D., Green, A. et al. Adverse effects of cannabidiol: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Neuropsychopharmacol. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-020-0667-2
- Iffland K, Grotenhermen F (2017) An update on safety and side effects of cannabidiol: a review of clinical data and relevant animal studies, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 2:1, 139–154, DOI: 10.1089/can.2016.0034.