The cannabis plant has been around for ages and people have been using it medicinally, recreationally, as well as in spiritual practices. And while people CBD and SSRI medications like Zoloft each can treat stress and depression and have similar side effects – is it safe to take both of them at the same time?
Can You Take CBD Oil With Zoloft?
The cannabis plant has been around for ages and people have been using it medicinally, recreationally, as well as in spiritual practices. And while people generally use it in order to experience the psychoactive effects of the main cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is gaining in popularity as well.
As the stigma around cannabis use is decreasing, people are starting to mix it with other prescription medication as well as other drugs which may produce a number of side effects. Previously we have talked about mixing weed with Adderall and the effects it has on users, and in this article, we are focussing on mixing CBD oil with Zoloft, so read on.
Why Do People Use Cannabidiol and Other CBD Products?
Our endocannabinoid system is programmed to regulate our physiological and cognitive processes like pregnancy, fertility, the immune system, appetite, memory, and others, but also to mediate the effects of cannabis. It consists of endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body which bind to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors and give appropriate signals to the body (for example, when the body’s experiencing inflammation, the immune system can kick in).
The cannabinoid receptors also process the main cannabinoids found in weed – THC and CBD – in order to provide pain relief, relaxing, and calming feelings. As CBD and CBD oil tinctures are becoming more popular, scientists dive into further research to find out if it can provide health benefits. Even though there aren’t pharmaceutical products that contain CBD yet, people have begun to use CBD products that are available online as well as in dispensaries around the world.
Medical Research on CBD
A 2018 study published in the Frontiers in Immunology Journal, proves that CBD has anti-anxiety, antiepileptic, and antipsychotic properties and can be used to treat anxiety and depression in patients.
A study done by the Department of Anesthesiology at the Women’s Hospital in Boston, as well as this one by the Oncology Department of Medicine at the University of California, provide information that CBD may help treat chronic pain.
Although CBD doesn’t produce any serious side effects or withdrawal symptoms, combining CBD with other prescription medications may not be your best bet.
A study done in 2017 by the University of Alabama stated that combining blood thinners like coumadin and CBD oil can increase the amount of blood thinner in the blood.
But can CBD react badly when consumed with Zoloft?
What Are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Antidepressants (SSRIS)?
Serotonin, also called the feel-good hormone, is a vital hormone in the human body which is also a neurotransmitter, and when its levels aren’t normal people can start to experience bad moods and even depression.
Before the era of SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants were used in order to treat depression, but all of that changed at the beginning of the 1990s when Fluoxetine appeared on the market – the first SSRI. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Antidepressants or SSRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain.
In cases when the levels of serotonin decrease, antidepressant medication is prescribed in order to increase its levels. Generally, these drugs are used to improve the mental health of patients and they take anywhere between 2-4 weeks to start working, and users need to stop taking them between 6 months and a year.
The most common SSRIs that are FDA-approved include:
- Citalopram (Celexa);
- Escitalopram (Lexapro);
- Fluoxetine (Prozac);
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva);
- Sertraline (Zoloft).
What Is Zoloft (Sertraline) and Why Do People Use It?
Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor which is a common prescription drug for depression. According to an article in Jama Internal Medicine journal, “about 1 in 6 adults in the United States reported taking psychiatric drugs at least once during 2013 in order to treat certain conditions”.
While these medications can aid people suffering from depression, their use also comes with some side effects. The most common ones, like headaches, gastrointestinal disturbance, insomnia, fatigue, gastrointestinal effects, and anxiety, can even come from using low doses of SSRIs.
On the other hand, abruptly stopping the use of Zoloft may result in the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Stomach problems;
- Feeling irritable, anxious, or confused.
Is Mixing Cannabis and Antidepressants a Good Idea?
People generally mix cannabis and antidepressants in an attempt to find an alternative for them, or in order to increase their effects. As some of the people that are on antidepressants experience symptoms worse than the symptoms that got them on antidepressants, they turn to CBD. So is the combination of Zoloft with CBD a good one?
While mixing Zoloft with grapefruit juice, or high doses of alcohol can result in a number of side effects like decreased blood pressure and enhanced sedation, there aren’t that many studies on how CBD and Zoloft interact. (Harvard Health Publishing, 2005, and Graham et al, 2007)
Databases about drug interaction note that the use of CBD oil and Zoloft can cause some of the same side effects like dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, and loss of concentration, so if you use them together, these side effects might increase. Also, taking CBD oil with Zoloft may reduce the efficacy of Zoloft and vice versa.
One of the few studies available found that “using CBD may block the optimal performance of the liver enzymes which help the body absorb antidepressants”. So one of the side effects of using Zoloft and CBD oil in combination may cause SSRIs to build up in the liver. (Yamaori et al, 2011)
What’s the Verdict on Mixing CBD Oil and Zoloft?
While interactions between CBD oil and antidepressants are rare, especially when it comes to SSRIs, there are certain side effects from consuming both. Potential interactions between CBD oil and Zoloft may include increased dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, and loss of concentration which can be worse than the side effects from consuming each drug on its own. Also, using CBD oil and Zoloft may block your liver’s enzymes that store antidepressants which could interfere with how the body absorbs these medications.
Even though there may be no serious interactions between CBD and Zoloft, your best bet would be to seek medical advice. Your doctor might know how to ensure supplementation with CBD oil without risk and with little to no side effects if CBD is available where you live.
CBD Oil and Zoloft: Dangerous To Use CBD When On SSRI?
More than one-hundred million Americans are on antidepressant medications, and tens of millions of them take Zoloft on a daily basis. In fact, Zoloft is the most commonly-prescribed psych med in the United States, even more popular than other drugs in the “SSRI” class like Lexapro, Paxil, Celexa and Prozac. (Zoloft is the brand name for the medication sertraline.)
Nearly 35 million Americans are considered “regular users” of marijuana, with another 20 million said to indulge occasionally. As you undoubtedly know, pot contains a number of cannabinoids – not just THC, but also CBD.
And a growing number of Americans say they use CBD-based products; the latest estimate from the Gallup polling organization puts that figure at 14% of all adults.
Needless to say, there’s a decent amount of crossover between those taking Zoloft and those consuming CBD. That’s even easier to believe when you consider that:
- People take antidepressants, including SSRIs like Zoloft, to fight stress and depression.
- Existing evidence on CBD products shows that they’re often useful to fight stress and depression.
- And, of course, one of the major effects of using cannabis is that it relieves – say it with us – stress and depression.
Is using some or all of them at the same time a problem?
It’s possible; there’s very little research on the subject. But if it is a problem, it’s probably not a major issue for most people.
Cannabinoids and Zoloft: What We Know
There has only been one rigorous medical review examining the effects of combining Zoloft (or similar SSRIs) and CBD use. It was done at the University of Connecticut and considered all the evidence involving concurrent use of antidepressants (“psychotropic” drugs) and psychoactive drugs like cannabis.
What the researchers found was surprising: there are very few reports of adverse interactions.
They say that maybe because those who use pot are afraid to report any problems they may experience. However, doctors prescribe newer generations of psych meds (like Zoloft) because they’re much less likely to cause drug interactions, so the researchers believe it’s very possible that harmful interactions with CBD or THC are “relatively rare or do not happen.”
CBD and Zoloft: What Medical Experts Think
The rest of the “knowledge” that exists about combining CBD and SSRIs like Zoloft isn’t really knowledge. It’s mostly anecdotal evidence and common sense.
Drug interaction databases note that both CBD and Zoloft can cause some of the same side effects, like drowsiness, dizziness, and loss of concentration. So using them together can potentially increase the severity of those side effects. They only classify the interaction as “moderate,” though, meaning you should simply be careful when mixing the two drugs, and watch carefully for negative effects until you know how you’re affected.
There’s only one study providing more specific information about that possible interaction, and it was done nearly ten years ago in Japan. The research found that CBD may block the optimal performance of the liver enzymes which help the body absorb antidepressants. In simple terms, taking CBD may cause Zoloft and other SSRIs to build up in the body in greater amounts than normal, increasing the effects – and side effects – of the antidepressant.
The conclusions that can be drawn? You should, of course, talk to your doctor before taking any new medications (prescription or non-prescription). If you combine Zoloft with either CBD or weed, however, you should be fine. Just be careful, because you could end up more zoned out than you expect.
Aspiring political journalist & small-town stoner currently living in Los Angeles. My day job consists of studying the mental health effects of cannabis in my role as a mental health case manager at Kaiser Permanente. By night, I roll fat joints and do my best to debrief Weed News readers on the latest cannabis happenings.