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Can Marijuana and Antibiotics Be Used Together?

can marijuana and antibiotics be used together

If you’ve ever gotten sick, there is a good chance that you have been prescribed antibiotics before. When describing the procedures of taking these medications, your physician will warn you about combining the medication with alcohol – but what about marijuana?

While cannabis plants are considered to be the ‘healing herb,’ and the majority of people do not experience adverse reactions to marijuana, cannabinoids affect the same receptors and regions of the brain and body as prescribed medications.

Prescription antibiotics are taken for a short term to address bacterial infection, but are cannabis and antibiotics safe to take together? What if you are currently being treated for antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

There are a few essential things that cannabis users should know about taking antibiotics if they regularly use medical cannabis and any possible adverse reactions that can occur with antibiotic medications and major cannabinoids.

What are Antibiotics?

medical marijuana vs antibiotics

Antibiotics are specialized prescription drugs designed to combat bacterial infections in humans and animals. Their mode of action is twofold: they either directly kill the bacteria or impede their ability to reproduce and spread. These powerful medicines are crucial in treating various bacterial infections, ranging from common ailments to life-threatening diseases.

How Are Antibiotics Administered?

The administration of antibiotics comes in several forms, depending on the nature and severity of the infection. Oral intake through pills, capsules, or liquid suspensions is typical for less severe infections. For targeted external applications, antibiotics may be prescribed as creams, sprays, ointments, or even as drops for the eyes or ears. In cases of more severe infections, antibiotics might be delivered through injections or intravenously (I.V.).

It’s important to note that antibiotics are specific to bacterial infections and compelling against conditions such as strep throat, urinary tract infections, whooping cough, and critical bacterial diseases like sepsis. However, they are unsuitable for treating viral infections like the common cold or flu, which typically resolve without medical intervention. Misuse of antibiotics, such as taking them when they’re unnecessary, can lead to ineffective treatment and may result in undesirable side effects.

How Do They Affect Your Body?

Antibiotics serve as a defense against bacterial infections by either exterminating the bacteria or by stalling their proliferation. They achieve this through various mechanisms, such as hindering the bacteria’s protein synthesis, assaulting the protective layers that encase the bacteria, or obstructing their reproductive processes.

However, the excessive use of antibiotics can lead to resistance within your body. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria evolve to the point where they are no longer subdued or destroyed by the medications designed to combat them. This evolution can lead to ineffective treatments for certain bacterial infections.

Annually, antibiotic resistance affects 2 million individuals, and it is associated with at least 23,000 fatalities. Over time, the human immune system can develop a tolerance to commonly provided antibiotics.

Some of the most common antibiotics are prescribed to address the following:

  • Staph infection
  • Gram-negative bacteria
  • Gram-positive bacteria
  • Bloodstream infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Middle ear infections
  • Staphylococcal infections

Adherence to prescription drug guidelines when taking antibiotics is critical. It is essential to complete the medication as prescribed, even if symptoms improve or resolve. Discontinuing antibiotics prematurely may allow some bacteria to survive, potentially causing a resurgence of the infection. Additionally, antibiotics should be used exclusively by the individual for whom they were prescribed and should not be shared or saved for future use.

How Cannabis Interacts with Medication

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Every substance ingested prompts a biochemical or physiological response within the body. Regardless of the substance, it invariably elicits some form of biological reaction. Regarding the interaction of antibiotics with other substances, it’s essential to exercise caution. Many people are aware of the risks of combining alcohol with medications, but what about mixing cannabis and antibiotics?

Cannabis is generally considered to have low toxicity and a low risk of overdose, yet its interactions with other medications have not been extensively studied. There are few significant reports of adverse effects when cannabis is used alongside other drugs, which makes it challenging to determine the exact risks.

Although cannabis is not typically contraindicated with antibiotics, it is known to interact negatively with various medications, including ibuprofen, morphine, and SSRIs. The possibility of an adverse reaction always exists when combining marijuana with other drugs.

Cannabis may affect specific liver enzymes involved in metabolizing some antibiotics. This inhibition can increase the likelihood of experiencing side effects from certain antibiotics, such as troleandomycin, miocamycin, and erythromycin, which may include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Taking Antibiotics and Using Cannabis At The Same Time

If you’re considering using cannabis while on antibiotics, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional knowledgeable about cannabis use. They may recommend abstaining from medical cannabis during your antibiotic treatment to prevent any potential adverse interactions that could compromise your health.

When considering marijuana interactions with medication, it’s essential to be aware of the potential effects. Marijuana may amplify the soothing impact of drugs such as benzodiazepines and opioids, possibly leading to increased drowsiness or a risk of respiratory depression. It can also influence blood sugar management, a crucial factor for those on insulin or other diabetes medications. Moreover, since marijuana can inhibit liver enzymes responsible for drug metabolism, it may alter the effectiveness or toxicity of various medicines.

Moreover, to reduce the risk of lung or respiratory infections, it’s best to avoid vaping or smoking cannabis. Instead, consider alternative methods of using medical marijuana, such as ingesting capsules or edibles, applying transdermal patches, or using sublingual oils.

Marijuana has Antibacterial Potential

marijuana edibles and antibiotics

Emerging studies suggest that marijuana may possess antibacterial qualities.

Researchers at McMaster University have discovered that cannabigerol (CBG), a cannabinoid found in cannabis, exhibits antibacterial properties and is effective against a harsh strain of bacteria known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in mice.

CBG was found to hinder MRSA from forming biofilms, which are clusters of microorganisms that adhere to each other and surfaces. Moreover, it could break down pre-existing biofilms and cells that were resistant to antibiotics by attacking the bacterial cell membrane.

An Italian study conducted in 2008 examined the antibacterial effects of the five primary cannabinoids present in marijuana: cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC). These cannabinoids were tested against various strains of antibiotic-resistant Staph infections. The findings indicated that all five cannabinoids demonstrated effectiveness against the bacterial strains.

Additionally, a research team from the University of Southern Denmark has presented evidence in Scientific Reports that showcases the impact of CBD on bacterial growth. Their study combined CBD with the antibiotic bacitracin to enhance its efficacy against Staphylococcus bacteria, including multidrug-resistant clones that have become a global concern. In some regions, these resistant bacteria make treating infections particularly challenging.

The researchers observed three notable effects when treating the bacteria with a combination of CBD and antibiotics:

  1. The bacteria’s normal division process was disrupted.
  2. There was a reduction in the expression of critical bacterial genes.
  3. The bacterial membrane became less stable.

Combining CBD and antibiotics produced a more potent effect than using antibiotics alone. Patients who are taking a daily broad or full-spectrum CBD supplement should have a conversation with their primary care provider.

Although current research is insufficient to conclude that marijuana could replace antibiotics entirely, the evidence suggests that marijuana might have a role in supporting conventional antibiotic treatments.

When formulating questions to ask your medical marijuana doctor, ensure you cover the essentials: the suitability of medical marijuana for your condition, its interactions with current medications, and the legal framework in your region.

Clarify the types of cannabis available and how they might benefit you, and understand the process for obtaining your medical marijuana card. These focused questions will help you navigate the use of medical marijuana safely and legally.


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