Article written by
Dipak HemrajHead of Research and Education
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Buspirone (Buspar, Namanspin) is an anti-anxiety medication that acts on serotonin receptors. According to Medscape, it is best to use caution when combining cannabis (marijuana) with buspirone, as cannabis use can increase the level or effect of buspirone. Studies have shown that medical cannabis has antidepressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties, which may reduce the need for buspirone.
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What Is Buspirone?
Buspirone is an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medication. Common trade names for buspirone include Buspar, Buspar Dividose, Vanspar, and Namanspin.
Uses and How It Works
Buspirone is a serotonin 5-HT1A receptor agonist, meaning that it increases action at serotonin receptors in your brain. This can help alleviate anxiety as well as depression. Buspirone increases noradrenaline levels, dopamine, and free serotonin but does not affect adrenaline, tryptophan, or platelet serotonin levels. Buspirone treatment does not have an immediate effect, needing between two to four weeks for its anti-anxiety effects to manifest.
Buspirone is usually prescribed for various anxiety disorders and has displayed particular efficacy for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). There is some evidence that buspirone may also be useful in treating social phobia. There is no evidence that buspirone is effective for other types of anxiety disorder.
Buspirone is used for both the short- and long-term management of anxiety and is often used in conjunction with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Buspirone is preferred to the prescription of benzodiazepines like diazepam (Valium, Vazepam, Valtoco), alprazolam (Xanax, Xanor, Niravam), lorazepam (Ativan, Tavor, Temesta) and clorazepate (Tranxene, Tranxilium, Novo-Clopate), all of which have addictive properties.
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Potential Benefits and Risks of Mixing Cannabis and Buspirone
Cannabis is a botanical medication with hundreds of active compounds, many of which may have moderate or significant drug-drug interactions when ingested into the body. More studies are needed in this area, but there is some knowledge (both theoretical and practical) of the potential benefits and risks of mixing cannabis with other drugs.
Medical cannabis can help reduce or replace the need for several drugs, including antidepressants and anxiolytics, which can reduce the chances of adverse side effects. Medical cannabis may also help manage nausea and headaches associated with using buspirone and other antidepressants.
Adverse side effects of buspirone include nausea, headaches, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating. More serious and rarer side effects include hallucinations, seizures, and serotonin syndrome. Combining cannabis and buspirone may increase the likelihood of suffering from one or more side effects. This is because cannabis and cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) can desensitize liver enzymes, which increases the level or effect of buspirone by affecting hepatic/intestinal enzyme cytochrome P3A4 (CYP3A4) metabolism.
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What to Do If You Need to Use Both Buspirone and Marijuana
To reduce the chances of a serious adverse reaction, it is best to speak to a doctor if you are considering using medical cannabis alongside any prescription drugs. This includes buspirone, and, as there’s an adverse interaction between the two that can be serious, it may be wise to reduce or replace buspirone entirely with medical cannabis.
The Bottom Line
Buspirone is generally a well-tolerated medication that can be used as an adjunctive to SSRIs and is preferred to benzodiazepines, which can have serious adverse effects like extreme sedation and drowsiness, brain fog, confusion, loss of balance, addiction, and the potential of death via overdose.
However, buspirone can still have several negative side effects like nausea, headaches, and more serious and deadly ones like serotonin syndrome. Medical cannabis, by comparison, has far more tolerable side effects that could be a replacement for buspirone. Start your journey toward health with the help of cannabis by signing up for a medical card appointment with one of our physicians.