How Safe Are CBD and Xanax When Used Together?

CBD oils, tinctures, gummies, creams — it’s safe to say that this cannabis-derived compound has become a staple among those who prefer to use alternative medicines to alleviate symptoms of common conditions, like chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, help children with ADHD, and the like. However, some may be wondering whether a combination of CBD and Xanax would incur additional benefits, especially for those whose brain chemicals have long been “jumbled up.” Before trying these two together, it’s crucial to consider what the research says. Unfortunately, science has some proof that a combination like this could be harmful.

What Is Xanax?

Alprazolam, or as it’s more commonly known, Xanax, is a type of benzodiazepine used worldwide to treat anxiety disorders. It is a synthetic drug that aims to boost the activity of a neurotransmitter and amino acid called GABA. To do so, it must attach itself to a GABA-A receptor. Once it does, it has an overall calming effect on the brain and thus is able to relieve anxiety.

Now, this was just the simplest definition of Xanax you may find. The truth is that the drug, albeit helpful, can only provide temporary relief. It starts working about an hour to two hours after ingestion, and its effects last anywhere from 11 to 20 hours. Therefore, in order to treat anxiety disorders in the long term, continuous use is inevitable. 

The problem? Xanax is notorious for its side effects and highly addictive profile. Some of the potential “consequences” of taking Xanax are:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Sleepiness and dizziness
  • Confusion 
  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeats and low blood pressure
  • Blurry vision and dry mouth
  • Mental and mood changes (even manic symptoms)
  • Difficulty walking

But the worst thing about Xanax and similar drugs is that people can build a tolerance to it over time. Thus, they will need to up their dosage at some point, always needing some more just to mimic the calmness Xanax used to bring them. Once they are addicted, they may experience withdrawal symptoms if there is no more drug to use. Otherwise, the addiction may become so bad that it leads to an overdose and potential death.

Because of that, we should always take Xanax under the supervision of a health professional. And even then, it’s best not to use it for longer than four months when treating anxiety disorders [2]

How Dangerous Would It Be to Mix CBD and Xanax?

Some people may have additional ailments that Xanax wouldn’t be able to treat on its own. Fortunately, CBD has become a viable alternative to some drugs and may help with common conditions, like pain relief and insomnia. This naturally occurring cannabis compound doesn’t have a psychoactive effect like THC. Thus, it is a good option for those wary of the “high” cannabis is famous for.

The problem is that CBD and Xanax shouldn’t mix at all. 

CYP3A4, an enzyme that belongs to the CYP450 family and is mostly found in the small intestine and liver, is the one that’s mainly responsible for the metabolization of Xanax. However, CBD may inhibit its activity [1] and thus make matters worse for the user — by boosting the effects of Xanax and preventing it from leaving the system completely in due time. In essence, CBD is able to increase the levels of the drug found in the system, thus putting the user at risk of side effects and a potential overdose.

Related post: Can You Mix CBD and Zoloft?

Not Every Combination Has This Effect, Though

We wouldn’t recommend using Xanax and CBD together unless one is under strict supervision. But even then, the user has to take into account how they are using CBD. Namely, topical creams and lotions aren’t going to end up in the system, so we could say it’s safe to use them alongside Xanax. Another option is to go for vapes instead of oral CBD products. That way, you can avoid liver metabolization, which is one of the main obstacles when using CBD and Xanax together.

But even in this case, we suggest speaking to a medical professional. Instead of using both products, it might be a better idea to opt for one and avoid the interaction altogether. Still, know that, although it can have a calming effect, CBD may not be a perfect alternative to drugs like Xanax. A doctor’s guidance is, thus, necessary to determine what kind of treatment would be the most suitable for someone suffering from anxiety or panic disorders.

Final Thoughts

Science has shown that the CYP3A4 enzyme is the main reason we shouldn’t be using CBD and Xanax together. Although there are ways to avoid the interaction by opting for topical products or vapes, it seems that the safest choice would be to avoid the combination altogether. Otherwise, we may risk our health and experience a variety of harmful side effects, some of which may, in the end, jeopardize our lives and make the treatment entirely futile. 

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