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Prednisone is a prescription medication that healthcare providers sometimes prescribe to treat various inflammatory conditions. If you’re currently a cannabis user and have been prescribed prednisone, you may wonder if combining the two is safe.
In short, while the research is lacking, it is generally safe to use cannabis if you’re taking prednisone, though there are some potential interactions with CBD to keep an eye out for. This article covers how prednisone works in the body, possible interactions with cannabis, and what you need to know about using both simultaneously.
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What Is Prednisone?
Prednisone is a prescription anti-inflammatory medication used to treat various medical conditions, including various autoimmune diseases. It belongs to a class of drugs called systemic corticosteroids, and these medications decrease the body’s immune response to various diseases and foreign bodies and help to reduce inflammation.
Uses and How It Works
Corticosteroids like prednisone operate by targeting immune system activity. While your immune system is responsible for protecting the body from foreign bacteria and viruses, sometimes — like in the case of an allergic reaction — it can become overactive.
Prednisone slows down the speed and intensity of the response and decreases inflammatory symptoms like swelling, hives, and rashes. It is also used to help prevent organ rejection after a transplant, coaxing the body to accept the new organ and not attack it as a foreign invader.
While it’s helpful in several cases, prednisone has a handful of unpleasant side effects, including:
- Mood changes
- Slow healing from injuries
- Weight gain
- Swelling in the face and extremities
In severe cases, such as noted in a 2017 cohort survey, patients taking prednisone can experience an elevated risk of sepsis which takes as long as 90 days to subside. Another study found that about 64% of patients in a group of 22 had an adverse reaction to prednisone.
Potential Benefits and Risks of Mixing Cannabis and Prednisone
Due to the lack of research on the effects of using cannabis with prednisone, we can’t say whether there are benefits to mixing the two. There are no known interactions; anecdotally, medical marijuana doctors may recommend cannabis treatment to be used alongside a person’s standard dose of prednisone if their condition warrants the use of both medications.
Some cannabinoids, particularly CBD and THCA, are known for their anti-inflammatory capabilities, which could potentially complement the immunosuppressive abilities of prednisone. While patients shouldn’t consider these cannabinoids as outright alternatives to corticosteroids like prednisone, there may be opportunities to use them together in treating arthritis or some autoimmune conditions.
Prednisone and other corticosteroids are inhibitors of the cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP3A, which affects how the liver metabolizes materials. CBD is another potent inhibitor of these enzymes, potentially leading to higher blood levels of prednisone and longer times that the drug spends in the body per dose.
This is why it’s wise to consult your physician before combining CBD with prednisone. Depending on your dose and medical condition, they may recommend taking the medications at different times or avoiding CBD altogether.
There may also be an increased risk of bone fractures if long-term prednisone is paired with heavy cannabis use. The long-term use of corticosteroids has decreased bone density, leading to osteoporosis. Similarly, a 2017 study reported an association between heavy cannabis use, low bone density, and increased fracture risk.
So, suppose you’ve been receiving corticosteroid therapy for a long time. In that case, you must check with your doctor or pharmacist to see how much cannabis you can safely take to avoid additional (potential) bone loss.
The Bottom Line
There are no known interactions between prednisone and marijuana use. But, to be on the safe side, if you’re considering adding cannabis to a medication routine that includes any prescription medications (like prednisone), talk to a healthcare professional. They can help you determine how to best fit both into your healthcare regimen.
Apply for a medical marijuana card in your home state. Leafwell’s virtual clinic is open and here to serve you with valuable guidance as you move through the application process.
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