Today’s article seeks to answer a simple query. Can you take CBD oil with SSRI antidepressants? In order to successfully answer this query, we need to understand what SSRI antidepressants are. And, we need to understand how they interact within our bodies. This will help us determine how safe it is to take SSRI antidepressants with CBD oil.
What Is An SSRI Antidepressant?
An SSRI antidepressant is a pharmaceutical drug. It is prescribed to patients with depression and/or anxiety. SSRI antidepressants work by increasing the Serotonin levels in your brain and body. They block serotonin from being reabsorbed into your nerve cells. The letters ‘SSRI’ stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor.
Serotonin is a chemical messenger aka a neurotransmitter. It carries signals between the neurons (or nerve cells) in your brain and body. The most common SSRI antidepressants available in the market are Celexa (Citalopram), Lexapro (Escitalopram), Prozac (Fluoxetine), Paxil, or Pexeva (Paroxetine), Zoloft (Sertraline), and Viibryd (Vilazodone).
Why Is Serotonin Chosen For Treating Depression?
Serotonin is 1 out of 7 total identified neurotransmitters. The other chemical messengers are dopamine, norepinephrine, histamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, and acetylcholine. Each one has a unique and important function in our brain and body. Serotonin in particular helps regulate your mood, social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual function. This is why serotonin is selected.
The idea behind SSRIs is that if more Serotonin is made available in your system, then your mood will improve due to more transmission-ability of messages between nerve cells. Regarding depression and anxiety treatment, the idea is that messages that regulate mood and social behavior will have a higher likelihood of being transmitted because more serotonin is available in your system. In theory, this would fight the effects of depression. However, in reality, SSRI antidepressants come with an extremely negative side effect profile.
What Are The Negative Side Effects Of SSRI Antidepressants?
On paper, SSRI antidepressants look to be a viable solution for treating symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, they present more problems than solutions in reality. Scientists are unsure whether adding SSRIs to your bloodstream actually increases the amount of Serotonin in your system. This is because there’s no actual way of measuring the amount of serotonin in your brain. Plus, many patients state that SSRIs are NOT a sure fix for treating depression and anxiety symptoms.
Yet, a bigger problem exists with SSRIs. The bigger problem is that they come with a host of negative side effects. The list of negative side effects includes:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Headaches, drowsiness, and dizziness
- Nervousness, agitation, and restlessness
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction (i.e. erectile, orgasm, and arousal dysfunction)
If you’re under the age of 25 and you take SSRIs, it is commonly advised that a very close eye is kept on you. This is because you’re most at risk of experiencing worsening depression and suicidal thoughts. In addition, if you stop taking SSRIs, you will also start experiencing negative withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Feeling of uneasy
Thus, the combination of negative side effects and negative withdrawal symptoms is making people seek alternative solutions. One of which is cannabis-based treatment. Mostly in the form of CBD oil. This leads us to the question of the day.
Can You Take CBD Oil With SSRI Antidepressants?
From a safety perspective, the answer is no, you can’t. From a mechanical perspective, the answer is yes, you can. You can physically take SSRI antidepressants with CBD oil but the results may not be positive. Doctors are split as to how safe it is for a number of reasons. Regardless, there are specific risks a patient must be aware of beforehand.
How Risky Is It To Take CBD Oil With SSRI Antidepressants?
The primary concern people have is whether CBD oil and SSRIs will interact negatively with each other. The medical community is split as to whether it’s safe or not to have them together. Anti-cannabis medical professionals argue that SSRIs and cannabis both have psychoactive effects. Hence, it’s their belief that taking them together may cause negative psychoactive effects.
On the other hand, pro-cannabis medical professionals state that both CBD and THC are generally safe to take with SSRIs. However, pro-cannabis doctors advise that you must be both strategic and cautious with your approach. If not, you’re at risk of experiencing the negative effects caused by drug interactions.
Taking CBD oil and SSRIs at the same time can increase the amount of SSRI serum available in your system. This happens because both THC and CBD block the metabolism of SSRIs in your body or vice versa. CBD, THC, SSRIs, as well as other medications, are all broken down by an enzyme called Cytochrome P450. Thus, taking SSRIs and CBD oil together will cause ‘metabolic competition’ causing the blockage of either one being broken down in your body. This leads to an over bio-availability of either SSRIs or cannabinoids in your system.
According to Dr. Richard Kim, because CBD, THC, and SSRIs compete for the same metabolic enzymes taking SSRIs and CBD oil together puts you at risk of getting serotonin syndrome. This is a condition where too much serotonin is present in your system causing negative effects. This happens because you will have too much of the SSRI serum in your system, which leads to an overabundance of serotonin in your system. If you get serotonin syndrome you may experience the following negative effects:
- Agitation and confusion
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
- Muscle twitching and tremors
- Heavy sweating
- Changes in blood pressure
Dr. Richard Kim states that:
The cytochrome p450 system accounts for 70 to 80 percent of the enzymes involved in drug clearance, making it the most important system for drug metabolism. Both THC and CBD are competitive inhibitors of three different enzymes in the cytochrome p450 system, two of which are involved in the metabolism of SSRIs. This means that CBD and THC are competing for the same receptors, as is the SSRI. So, when an SSRI is taken concurrently with CBD and/or THC, the SSRI serum concentration could possibly rise since CBD is competing for the same receptors for metabolism, which may lead to serotonin syndrome.
In saying that, Dr. Kim also adds that if you’re concerned about getting Serotonin Syndrome, it would take extremely high amounts of CBD and/or THC to produce Serotonin Syndrome. However, prevention is always better than the cure if it can be helped.
How Do You SAFELY Take CBD Oil With SSRI Antidepressants?
Whether your goal is to wean yourself off SSRIs, reduce the impact of withdrawal symptoms, or reduce the impact of negative side effects, there’s a safe way to do it. What most pro-cannabis doctors recommend you do is the following:
- Space out time between your drug administrations
- Microdose your cannabis-based treatment (at the beginning)
- Slowly increase your dose over time
- Track and journal your treatment actions and results
- Consult with a pro-cannabis medical professional (if you have access to one)
This first strategy is to space out the time between drug different administrations. Due to the fact that SSRIs and CBD oil use the same enzymes to be broken down, pro-cannabis doctors recommend spacing out the time between each drug administration. The general time frame doctors recommend is between 1 – 3 hours. This gives your body enough time to metabolize either drug before taking the next one preventing negative drug interactions.
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 or effects. With respect to CBD oil, people consume very small amounts throughout the day to achieve results such as reduced anxiety, reduced depression, pain relief, and anti-inflammatory effects. 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 or feeling 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 dose slightly to a point where you do not feel dizzy or lethargic anymore. Then stay at the reduced dosage for a few days before attempting to increase your dosage again.
The fourth strategy pro-cannabis doctors recommend is to track and journal your actions and results. Regarding tracking, 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, for example. This enables you to keep a close eye on how your body responds to your CBD oil treatment relative to the condition you’re treating for. It also enables you to instantly tell when you slip from positive to negative results and what it took to get there.
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 most regions of the world. However, because of the Internet, you have access to doctors around the world. Your challenge is to find one who will consult with you and guide you along your journey.
An additional benefit of following the above strategies is that you can prevent yourself from making your depressive symptoms worse with cannabis use. What many patients are unaware of is that heavy cannabis use can lead to worsening symptoms of depression.
In a 2014 clinical study, researchers set out to investigate the effects of heavy marijuana use on substance abusers versus a control group. The researchers found that the brains of marijuana abusers become less sensitive to dopamine over time. Less sensitivity to dopamine makes you detached and apathetic, which are two symptoms of depression. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that sends signals between your nerve cells relating to reward, pleasure, focus, and pain.
In a 2007 rodent model study, researchers set out to investigate the effects of cannabis at low and high doses in rats. The study found that THC boosts serotonin levels at low doses. However, at high doses, THC had the opposite effect. Hence, knowing your optimal dosage levels will enable you to benefit from cannabis-based treatment without falling victim to the negative effects due to misuse or substance abuse.
CBD oil can be taken with an SSRI antidepressant regimen in a strategic and cautious fashion. It is not advised, however, to take CBD oil and SSRIs simultaneously due to metabolic competition. Doing this may cause negative drug interactions such as serotonin syndrome.
Patients are using CBD oil to either reduce the impact of SSRI side effects or to assist with weaning off SNRI due to negative withdrawal symptoms. Moving forward, there should NOT be any doubt in your mind that you will be able to achieve positive treatment results provided you are strategic and cautious with your approach. Specifically, if you use the strategies recommended by 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 considerable leg work because for every 1 pro-cannabis doctor practicing medicine, there are 100 anti-cannabis doctors out there. However, do not let that discourage you. Pro-cannabis doctors do exist and you can find them. You just have to look and be persistent until you find one.
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