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Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
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The antibiotic azithromycin successfully treats various bacterial infections when taken alone. But mixing antibiotics like azithromycin with certain substances can render them ineffective due to chemical interactions in the body.
So what does that mean for cannabis? Can you use marijuana if your doctor prescribes azithromycin? Yes, most people can safely mix azithromycin and weed.
According to available data, including a 2014 systematic review study, cannabis’ primary compounds, CBD, CBN, and THC, generally do not inhibit pharmaceutical effectiveness. Additionally, there is no apparent interaction between azithromycin and weed, meaning you can likely use both without a problem.
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What Is Azithromycin?
Azithromycin is a prescription medication with several uses for treating bacterial infections. It belongs to the class of drugs known as macrolide antibiotics.
Pharmacists sell azithromycin under many trade names, including Zithromax (also called Zmax and Z-Pak). It’s one of the most common antibiotics and a good option for those allergic to penicillin. In 2019, doctors wrote more than 15 million azithromycin prescriptions.
Uses and How It Works
Azithromycin is an oral antibiotic available via prescription and is taken as a pill that the body absorbs quickly. It works to stop bacterial growth and helps treat mild to moderate infections caused by bacteria, including:
- Strep throat
- Traveler’s diarrhea
- Middle ear infections
- Chronic lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, and cystic fibrosis
- Intestinal infections
Azithromycin use does not extend to colds, the flu, or other viral infections.
Potential Benefits and Risks of Mixing Cannabis and Azithromycin
What happens when you mix weed and antibiotics? For azithromycin and weed, reported interactions are mild, and potential benefits outweigh any risks.
Research suggests that antibiotics such as azithromycin could work even more favorably in some instances when combined with marijuana.
- According to the CDC, people who overuse antibiotics can develop antibiotic resistance. Cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG) and CBD could help reduce antibiotic reliance through their powerful anti-bacterial properties, proving somewhat effective against the difficult-to-treat MRSA bacterium that azithromycin also treats.
- Cannabinoids like THC also have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that could help battle infections.
The main risk when using azithromycin and weed is the delivery method. Inhaling or vaping can complicate a lung infection, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. So in those cases, cannabis edibles, beverages, sublingual oils, and transdermal patches may be the more appropriate ingestion route.
Why Mixing Cannabis with Azithromycin Can Help You Feel Better
It turns out that many cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis have anti-bacterial effects against a wide range of pathogenic bacteria. Mixing azithromycin and weed could increase the antibiotic’s effectiveness, helping you feel better faster.
Additionally, THC’s effects on the brain and nervous system can help relieve pain, make you feel happier, and boost your appetite while counteracting some of the adverse side effects you might feel from the antibiotic. In the case of azithromycin, cannabis can help offset negative side effects such as:
While cannabis may help you feel better while taking azithromycin, you must take the full dose of your prescription. Do not stop taking an antibiotic before your dose runs out, even if you start feeling better.
The Bottom Line
You should always consult your doctor before combining weed with any medication. That said, there are no known adverse interactions between azithromycin and weed. The research indicates people who take both cannabis and azithromycin simultaneously should be able to do so safely with minimal risk.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Does CBD affect antibiotics?
CBD can inhibit your body’s cytochrome P450 system, a purification system near the liver responsible for metabolizing potentially dangerous toxins. This effect might impact how long it takes to process certain antibiotics and result in taking more or fewer antibiotics than required.
A study at the University of Westminster concluded that CBD could be positive in combination with antibiotics by preventing the body’s release of “membrane vesicles” (MVs). Bacteria utilize MVs to communicate with each other and trap antibiotics. CBD can stop that process by changing the membrane vesicles’ composition, cutting off bacterial communication, and helping antibiotics work better.
Dr. Sigrun Lange from the University of Westminster study said, “Our findings highlight that CBD application, in conjunction with antibiotic treatment, may be an interesting adjunct to the development of novel treatment to help reduce antibiotic resistance, especially given that antibiotic resistance is on the rise and predicted to be a global health disaster.”
Is CBD oil good for infections?
Research shows that CBD oil is anti-bacterial and can be a good option to help fight infections:
A recent study in Australia found that CBD isolate oil killed all the strains of bacteria tested in a lab, including some highly resistant to existing antibiotics. These included gram-negative bacteria (skin infections), the bacteria responsible for gonorrhea, meningitis, and airway infections like bronchitis and pneumonia. It also reaffirmed CBD is effective against MRSA bacterium.
Another recent study found CBD extract shows promise against salmonella, one of the most prevalent foodborne pathogens worldwide.