Possible side effects of THC and CBD

Cannabis 101: CBD vs THC

A column by Dr. Pierre Milot, PhD.

Hello again everyone.  In my last article, I described summarily the two main cannabinoids in Cannabis: CBD and THC.  In this short article, I will talk about the side effects of THC and CBD and breeze lightly over medication interactions.

CBD content in Marijuana

Marijuana/cannabis that’s sold to consumers has significantly lower levels of CBD nowadays, because growers tend to selectively breed out the CBD enzyme to produce more THC.  There is more money in it they believe.  Now let’s look at the side effect of too much THC intake.

Side Effects and Safety: CBD Vs THC

The psychoactive properties of THC can cause temporary side effects:

Memory impairments
Lowered reaction time
Increased heart rate
Coordination problems
Dry mouth
Red eyes
Increase anxiety/hallucinations (in high doses mainly)

While there is a risk of some negative side effects from THC, according to the National Cancer Institute it is not possible to have a fatal overdose. Some studies have found evidence that cannabis strains high in THC can cause long-term negative psychiatric effects when consumed by adolescents, including increasing the risk of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia.

Some possible light side effects of CBD

Research indicates even large doses of CBD are well tolerated and safe. There have been some reports of dry mouth, light-headedness, and drowsiness. A recent research review examining the safety and side effects of CBD concluded that CBD appeared to be safe in humans and animals. Even chronic use of CBD by humans showed to cause no adverse neurological, psychiatric, or clinical effects.

CBD and THC Drug Interactions

Virtually all chemical compounds, from over-the-counter drugs and prescription pharmaceuticals to illicit substances, interact with other compounds. There are, for example, 82 identified drug interactions with caffeine (of which 25 are classified as moderately severe to severe). Even seemingly benign substances, like grapefruit, are known to interact with many prescription drugs. When it comes to cannabis, most potential interactions that have been identified are relatively mild, although it is wise to be careful and verify with a health professional when it comes to combining for instance heart or blood thinning medication.  In spite of that though, many drugs/medications seem to work with cannabis favourably.

But, before we dive deeper in some of the most common drugs people combine with cannabis, it’s important to understand the difference between an “additive” and “synergistic” effect. Additive simply means the interaction between two chemicals equals the sum of their parts (e.g. 1+1 = 2).  Synergistic means that when two chemicals interact, the effect is greater than the sum of their parts (e.g. 1+1 = 3, hence, cannabis may actually increase or decrease the effectiveness or potency of other drugs. But, even if the interaction is potentially beneficial, close monitoring by a medical professional, along with regular blood work, is important as a patient may need adjust their dosing accordingly.

Likewise, keep in mind that THC /CBD ratios and different strain profiles (with variable cannabinoid and terpene profiles) can influence effects.

Stay tuned for my next article when I will list an array of possible interactions with your medication.

Hope you enjoyed this piece and once again I encourage you to email me any questions or comments you might have on cannabis/marijuana, request more explanations or share a success story with other readers at: drpierremilot@mail.com

Talk to you soon,

Dr. Pierre Milot, PhD., PhD. (tc)
Certified Medical Cannabis Counselor
Winchester, ON.



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