Can You Mix Cannabis and Antibiotics?

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Added 24 May 2022

You may be using cannabis for either of the two reasons: recreational or medicinal. If you are a recreational user, it may be inconvenient to stop smoking when taking antibiotics. But, of course, this depends from one individual to another. While some people can stop immediately, others...well, they find it tough. 

On the other hand, if you're a medicinal user, you may be wondering if taking cannabis with antibiotics is safe. Needless to say, letting go of cannabis for a while may invite some challenges in dealing with your condition. 

But, you need to understand that it's not a simple matter of quitting or continuing with cannabis. You love cannabis, and it probably helps with many of your issues — we get it; however, the crux is the interaction between cannabis and antibiotics. 

The type of interaction that occurs when cannabis and pharmaceutical drugs may alter each other's effect on your body. For instance, depending on the pharmaceutical drug you're consuming, the effects can be either less or more potent. In the worst scenario, the medicine may not be as effective. Or, it may lead to unpleasant side effects and even pose a health risk.

According to a 2014 study, cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBN generally pose a low risk of interaction with pharmaceutical drugs. But this is not the entire picture. So how low is low risk, and what are the risks? And should you consume cannabis with antibiotics? Let's find out.

Common Antibiotics and Their Relation to Cannabis


Antibiotics is a blanket term for various medications used to treat bacterial infections in your body. As per the NHS, antibiotics are used mainly for the following reasons:

  • To cure acne
  • Prevent the spread of bacterial infections like chlamydia
  • Speed up recovery post surgeries or other ailments like kidney infections
  • Reduce the risk of bacterial infections due to accidental traumas or surgeries

Go to your local pharmacy, and you'll find hundreds of antibiotics for all kinds of conditions. But unfortunately, many of them can potentially react to cannabis in your body.

According to a study conducted by Penn State News, 139 common medications have the potential to interact with cannabis negatively. But this does not redeem other drugs not listed to be safe to consume with cannabis.

Further, according to Dr. Kent Vrana (the chairperson of pharmacology at the College of Medicine), 57 medications may not operate as intended if taken with cannabis. However, the only antibiotic listed by him was clindamycin. 

Both the studies share different results, which does not give us the answer. Instead, the takeaway from these two examples is that there isn't enough data and research available to make any conclusive answer to say if taking cannabis with antibiotics is safe.

Cannabis' Potential Effect on Antibiotics' Performance

cannabis and antibiotics

Evidence suggests that, generally, cannabis does not seem to interact with antibiotics significantly. However, there are some instances where the opposite might be true.

For instance, one study shows that rifampin decreases the CBD levels in the body when taken with cannabis, but the interaction isn't so significant. 

Based on the limited data and research, the consensus is that antibiotics will generally not interact with cannabis and pose any health risks, except for a few instances. So, consuming cannabis with antibiotics is mostly not a problem. 

Same Metabolic Pathways: CYP450

There is one risk, though — cannabis and some antibiotics share the same metabolic pathway. Different antibiotics use different metabolic pathways in the liver. If a particular antibiotic uses the same metabolic pathway as cannabis, they may interact with each other. 

For instance, cannabis inhibits CYP450 production in the liver. CYP450 is an enzyme that manages the biosynthesis of macrolide antibiotics like miocamycin, troleandomycin, or erythromycin. In such cases, you may become more vulnerable to antibiotic side effects like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. 

Again, there is a lack of adequate research, and everyone's metabolic pathways are different. Consuming cannabis with macrolide antibiotics may be safe for you, but it may affect another individual differently. 

To be safe, you can check the metabolic pathway of the antibiotic you are taking by conducting some research online. If it uses CYP450, you should consider staying off cannabis for some time or try smaller doses to be on the safer side. 

Wrong Consumption Methods

Another instance where antibiotics and cannabis may not work together is if you smoke cannabis while taking antibiotics to treat respiratory or lung infections. The harsh smoke may irritate the organs and slow down the antibiotics' abilities. In such cases, consider consuming cannabis in other ways, like edibles.

So far, the chances of side effects or adverse interactions are rare and non-threatening. There are zero reported deaths due to an interaction between cannabis and antibiotics. Still, it would help if you practiced caution when consuming cannabis with antibiotics.

You should always consult your healthcare provider before consuming cannabis while on antibiotics. They can offer professional advice based on your health and lifestyle. And if you notice any side effects, reduce your cannabis intake and consult your healthcare provider for more clarity. 

Alternatives to Cannabis

Antibiotics and cannabis seem to be safe together, but there is still a slight chance of mishap for some people. So instead, you can even try out other alternatives to cannabis to help you get through the treatment without risking any side effects. Below are some alternatives.

CBD Isolate Products

Eating CBD gummies

The next best thing to cannabis is something from the cannabis plant itself: CBD isolate. CBD isolates are pure CBD extracts without other compounds and cannabinoids, unlike broad-spectrum CBD, which may contain other cannabinoids or compounds that may interfere with antibiotics. 

For those that can't stand THC at all, CBD is a better alternative as it's not psychoactive. In addition, it may even help you fight bacteria because it has some antibiotic properties.

Still, it would be best if you practice caution. A high dose of CBD (over 125 mg) may interfere with your liver's metabolic abilities, leading to heightened side effects of antibiotics. Stick to a dosage of 5 to 20 mg per day, which is adequate for most people.

Different Consumption Methods

In many cases, you can even try consuming cannabis via a different method. For example, if you smoke cannabis but are taking antibiotics to treat lung infection, you can switch to edibles. Be careful of the dosage, though.

You can even try other consumption methods like transdermal patches or topicals, depending on your ailment and health. These methods allow cannabis to penetrate your skin and alleviate various symptoms focused on particular parts of your body.  

Other Alternatives

If you want to steer clear of cannabis altogether, you can choose botanicals with similar cannabinoids, such as the following:

There are many other alternatives available. If you know for what medicinal purpose you use cannabis, whether it is to fight depression, chronic pain, or stress, you can find an alternative. 

Cannabis: The Next Potential Antibiotic

cannabis and antibiotics

No one likes going off cannabis for whatever reason, but sometimes, it is essential. You may have to compromise your cannabis intake if you are taking antibiotics. However, things may change soon for you. 

Researchers have found that cannabis has some potential to become an antibacterial medication of its own. For example, one research found that cannabis is effective against MRSA bacterium, which is challenging to treat.

Another Australian study, headed by Mark Blaskovich, found that CBD effectively eliminates all bacteria strains that they tested in a lab, including some highly-resistant ones that can withstand modern antibiotics. 

The study also found that CBD did not build up antibiotic resistance in the bacteria even after multiple uses for weeks. Plus, CBD offered excellent action against the four Gram-negative bacteria and biofilms, and it also reaffirmed an older study by acting against MRSA bacterium.

So, things look quite hopeful for medicinal cannabis users who also need to take antibiotics. Cannabis won't be an issue if the antibiotics themselves are made from cannabis.

Summary: Can You Mix Cannabis and Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are the go-to remedy to fight bacterial infections. And these days, healthcare providers don't prescribe antibiotics unless it is necessary — overuse of antibiotics can build up resistance in the bacteria, making them better at withstanding the medicines. 

However, when taken with other drugs, they can have some downsides. Unfortunately, cannabis may be one of them. While there is not enough research to say whether cannabis is safe, you must still be wary.

Cannabis may interfere with antibiotics in your body for a couple of reasons. First, the antibiotics may use the same metabolic pathway as cannabis, or your body may not accept both of them together. 

If you are consuming cannabis, whether it is legal in your state or not, you should let your healthcare provider know about it. They may advise you whether it is safe to consume or not. And don't worry — they only care about your health and do not hold legal prejudice against you. 

Or you can take the safest approach and switch to a cannabis alternative. Whichever method works best for you.




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