CBD oil has been shown to ease the symptoms of a number of conditions, particularly anxiety and mood disorders. But because CBD can have negative interactions with some antidepressants, you may be wondering whether or not you can take CBD oil while also using lithium. Lithium is a mood stabilizer, not an antidepressant, so the chemical structure of the medication is much different.
Common in treatments for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, lithium is a life-changing drug for many. As CBD oil has been shown to regulate mood and reduce anxiety, it could potentially serve as a supplement to more traditional treatments for mental health conditions.
If you’re thinking about taking CBD oil and lithium together, this guide will tell you everything you need to know.
The effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on the body can make it an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. When used in conjunction with lithium medications, CBD oil may help further reduce the symptoms associated with a range of mental illnesses and mood disorders.
Keeping in mind very little research is available on the subject, at this moment, there are no known negative effects of taking CBD oil with lithium. CBD oil has been shown to interact with the metabolism of certain medications, but lithium does not appear to be one of them.
Some antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) use the CYP450 enzyme pathway for metabolization into the bloodstream. Because CBD oil impacts CYP450 enzymes, it can inhibit the body’s ability to process drugs like SSRIs. This means the active ingredient in these medications remains in the body for longer periods of time, increasing the risk of experiencing the medication’s adverse side effects.
Fortunately, lithium does not use the CYP450 pathway, so CBD oil will not increase or decrease the rate at which you metabolize it. This means you likely won’t have to worry about side effects that could be caused by slower processing of lithium medications.
Generally speaking, when used together, CBD oil and lithium may work in parallel to treat symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia without issue. The side effects of using CBD oil and lithium are not caused by an interaction between the two, but by an overlap in potential side effects.
While rare, CBD oil may cause diarrhea and dry mouth, which are also potential side effects of lithium. If these are side effects you experience with lithium, it is possible that CBD oil could make them worse.
However, if you’re experiencing other side effects from lithium, CBD oil may be able to help.
Two of the most commonly reported side effects of lithium are tremors and vomiting. Often, people taking lithium for bipolar disorder or schizophrenia will end up taking a cocktail of medications in order to counter these negative side effects. Fortunately, CBD oil has been shown to mitigate the experience of nausea, vomiting, and tremors in recent case studies, meaning it could help mitigate negative side effects of lithium, too. FYI, these studies involved tremor and vomiting alone, not as symptoms of bipolar. More concrete evidence is needed to prove CBD’s positive role, as tremor and vomiting can evolve my different mechanisms; the ones involved with lithium use may differ from others.
In 2015, Neurotherapeutics published a comprehensive review of studies examining the effect of cannabinoids like CBD on tremors caused by diseases of the central nervous system. While much of the evidence was anecdotal, and more research on CBD and essential tremor needs to be done, the results were promising and called for further attention on the topic. The review concluded with, “…medical cannabis appears to have benefits among some patients enduring tremor-associated disease.”
Current research on using cannabis to treat nausea and vomiting suggests CBD oil may also help prevent these unwanted lithium side effects. Though, it’s important to note that while the results have been positive, they’re also based on treatment plans that include both CBD and THC. As the stigma around CBD and cannabis in general continues to dissipate, more research on cannabidiol’s therapeutic benefits will be conducted and the general public will have a clearer idea of how CBD oil specifically can help with certain conditions.
To ensure your safety, start by speaking to your doctor about taking CBD oil and lithium together. Their knowledge of your health and history will be extremely helpful in guiding your decision. You might also speak to a cannabis doctor who specializes in using CBD for medical treatments.
It’s also important to educate yourself on the research that’s already been done on combining CBD oil and lithium so you can make your decision with full confidence.
In most instances, mood disorders like bipolar disorder are treated with lithium in conjunction with other antipsychotic, mood stabilizing, anti-depressant, and/or anti-anxiety medications; it’s not uncommon for a mood-regulating medication regimen to include more than one prescription. This means there’s a greater possibility for side effects.
And while CBD oil may be effective for certain symptoms and experiences related to bipolar disorder, it may not be effective on its own in treating manic episodes.
So, should you combine CBD oil with lithium?
Anecdotally, people with bipolar affective disorder have used cannabis to treat the mania and depression associated with the disorder. Because of this, it’s believed the THC and CBD cannabinoids produce, “sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, antipsychotic and anticonvulsant effects,” that could work in tandem with lithium to reduce bipolar symptoms. CBD alone may well produce all the benefits without the added risk of psychosis that THC could potentially confer.
Lithium is also used in conjunction with antipsychotic medications to treat conditions like schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. A recent study conducted by King’s College London found that CBD oil may be effective in this instance as well. The study states, “CBD has beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia. As CBD's effects do not appear to depend on dopamine receptor antagonism, this agent may represent a new class of treatment for the disorder.”
These results are promising, and point to CBD oil as a potential and well-tolerated supplement to lithium treatment plans when it comes to schizophrenia.
CBD is biphasic, meaning that it has different effects on the system depending on the concentration in the bloodstream. Up to a certain point, CBD can provide beneficial health properties, but those have been shown to plateau once that threshold has been reached. In short, you can have too much of a good thing.
Your ideal dosage of CBD oil will vary depending on metabolism, weight, age, and numerous other internal factors, so there is no standard “ideal dosage”. To use CBD oil and lithium together safely, it is recommended that you follow the dosing information found on your CBD oil product, or use this dosage guide as a starting point.
Always consult with your physician before embarking on any new course of treatment, together you can decide if using CBD oil with lithium is the right option for you.
Because lithium toxicity is a very real concern, never adjust your lithium dosage without medical supervision.
Edibles, inhalants, capsules, drops—how do you decide where to start? Choosing the best CBD oil to use with lithium will come down to personal preference. Do you want the ease of taking a capsule alongside your lithium medication, or would you prefer to spread the cannabidiol’s effects over the course of the day?
If you want the convenience of being able to top up your CBD levels as needed, a vape pen is your best option. No different from an e-cigarette in appearance, vape pens provide you with a near-instant hit of CBD. While capsules are absorbed via the digestive system, inhaling your CBD or taking it sublingually (under the tongue) absorbs it directly into the bloodstream, allowing for much quicker effects.
If you are unsure how you will respond, start with a CBD oil isolate over a full-spectrum CBD oil product. An isolate contains only CBD and lacks other cannabinoids that could complicate lithium’s effects.
It is always important to purchase high-quality CBD oil. In order to find the best CBD oil to use with lithium, there are a few things to look for.
For starters, do your research. Look for a brand that has an independent third-party laboratory tests their products for purity and potency. Read any posted Certificates of Analysis (COA) so you can understand what exactly is in the final product. If there are not posted COAs, request them from the brand; a brand that will not produce this type of analysis is not a brand you should trust.
If possible, buy an organic CBD oil. This will ensure that no harmful chemicals, herbicides, or pesticides make their way into the oil.
Finally, if you decide to use a vape pen, look for a CBD vape oil that uses something other than propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine as a carrier oil. These substances can become harmful when heated to high temperatures.
Once you have your doctor’s blessing, don’t be afraid to experiment with different delivery methods and CBD brands. The industry is growing, and as long as you’re armed with the right knowledge, your venture into the world of CBD oil should be an exciting and beneficial one.
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