Will using cannabis make birth control less effective? Unfortunately, there have been no scientific studies that completely answer the question of whether cannabis or its components (like CBD and One of the most common questions the Onyx & Rose team gets has to do with mixing our organic, all-natural product with medications and contraceptives. The risks associated with mixing pharmaceuticals and alcohol are well documented, so it’s natural that people would also have concerns regarding mixing CBD and prescription medications. The short answer to […]
Will using cannabis make birth control less effective?
Unfortunately, there have been no scientific studies that completely answer the question of whether cannabis or its components (like CBD and THC) make birth control pills, patches, or rings less effective. This may be because “medical marijuana” has only been legalized on a state-by-state basis beginning in 1999 and as of yet not all states are on board. Additionally, cannabis products containing THC are illegal federally and in most states. Regulations around CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, vary by state.
In the limited research that has been done, CBD (or cannabidiol) did not appear to stimulate the estrogen receptors on cells, nor block the effects of estrogen on those receptors, which indicates that it’s unlikely to interfere with how estrogen in birth control affects the body. Moreover, CBD slows down enzymes that break down the hormones in birth control. This argues that, if anything, the birth control hormones may be in the body longer and at higher concentrations. Putting all this together, we can definitely say that CBD will not make birth control less effective.
Anecdotally, I haven’t heard or read about women experiencing unplanned pregnancies while using cannabis products and taking hormonal birth control.
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Is CBD Safe to Take While Using Medications or Contraceptives?
One of the most common questions the Onyx & Rose team gets has to do with mixing our organic, all-natural product with medications and contraceptives. The risks associated with mixing pharmaceuticals and alcohol are well documented, so it’s natural that people would also have concerns regarding mixing CBD and prescription medications.
The short answer to this frequently asked question is that you should always check with your primary care physician before adding CBD to your daily routine.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive with us, read on!
The first important thing to note is that it’s possible for CBD to interact with other medications. While our product is organic and all natural, it can have an impact on metabolic rates, which in turn have an impact on the efficacy of certain medications. The good news is that this interaction often makes prescription medications more effective, leading to a lower dose of chemical medication when taken alongside CBD.
CBD and the P450 System
However, any drug that is metabolized by the liver will be affected by CBD, due to the cytochrome P450 enzyme system. This system is responsible for metabolizing potentially toxic compounds, and doctors use the amount of time it takes for various medications to be processed through the P450 system to determine safe and healthy dosages for patients. CBD can impact the P450 system, making it possible for certain drugs to spend more time in your system. Medications that may interact with CBD include antihistamines, NSAID pain relievers, beta blockers, antidepressants, antibiotics, and steroids. That’s why it’s especially important to consult with your physician before beginning a CBD regimen.
CBD and Birth Control
One of the most common medications that can interact with CBD is the birth control pill. Enzyme inhibitors such as CBD can potentially increase breakthrough bleeding and decrease estrogen-based contraceptive effectiveness, leading to an increased risk of unwanted pregnancy.
The active hormones in your method of birth control may also make a difference. Estrogen-containing contraceptives such as pills, patches, injections, and rings carry a higher risk of failure in the presence of CBD than non-estrogen forms. Progesterone-only alternatives may be a more reliable alternative for CBD users, and you’re a woman who’s concerned about becoming pregnant, you should consult with your doctor about your options. In the meantime, we advise using additional birth control methods such as condoms. Research in this area is still in progress, so we recommend that every woman use caution.
Talking With Your Doctor About CBD
If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your CBD regimen with your doctor, and you’re not prepared to begin the search for a new primary care physician at this time, then you can use what is commonly referred to as The Grapefruit Test to determine whether or not your medication will interact with CBD. CBD interacts with medications the same way grapefruit does, so if you’re unsure about mixing your medications with CBD, just ask your pharmacist or physician if you should avoid eating or drinking grapefruit while taking your medication. If the answer is yes, then your medication will interact with CBD and it will be important for you to have a more candid conversation with your doctor.
Endocannabinoid professionals recommend taking this precaution with every medication you may be prescribed, as many pharmacists and physicians are not highly educated on the endocannabinoid receptor system, and may not realize that patients may experience interactions. However, even though a lot of doctors aren’t up-to-date when it comes to CBD, they will still be the most important link to your health. They have the ability to monitor blood work and deserve your complete honesty when it comes to your CBD use. Only through transparency can you help destigmatize CBD and encourage the medical field to continue to research and study the endocannabinoid receptor system.