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cbd oil and tamoxifen

For women (and men) with breast cancer who are not taking tamoxifen—those who are post-menopausal, are using ovarian suppression medications, or who have no ovaries—a physician may prescribe an aromatase inhibitor (Arimidex, Aromasin, or Femara) to help reduce estrogen produced in body tissues other than ovaries. Wohlschlagel says some of these appear to be significantly safer to use with cannabis extracts because they are not metabolized in the same way as tamoxifen, and they do not appear to bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors, leaving those potential targets open for THC to bind to. However several of those (one example is Arimidex) also may be impacted if taken along with strong inhibitors of the CYP3A4 enzyme pathway, such as large doses of CBD and THC. Please speak to your doctor or pharmacist about this.

Perhaps the most common food-drug interaction that many people are already familiar with from warning labels and their own physicians is the grapefruit interaction; many pharmaceuticals come with specific warnings not to take them with grapefruit, because grapefruit contains enzymes that inhibit CYP450 metabolism. Tamoxifen is one of these drugs. And cannabinoids, like grapefruit, are known to inhibit CYP450 metabolism.

“There is not enough evidence-based, scientifically sound information available for patients to do this on their own,” she says. “It’s impossible to fully address the pros, the cons, the potential for benefits and the potential for harm in a blog post or on a Facebook page. There are multiple potential drug interactions that could leave any single patient better or worse off. It is critically important to get a medical team who understands the implications of cannabis and breast cancer on board. I’ve interviewed young women with hormone-positive breast cancer who have reported doing poorly when they tried to use high doses of THC—their disease advanced rapidly, sometimes in a matter of weeks. Some reported that they were also using tamoxifen during that time. Did the tamoxifen interfere with cannabinoid actions? Or did the tamoxifen metabolism get reduced by the large doses of THC they were taking? Since they reported they had been using 100 or more milligrams of THC each day, it is impossible to know for certain. But it certainly raised my awareness of the potential issues that patients may experience.”

The Importance of Informed Medical Guidance

“Because grapefruit is a commonly-encountered food that is famous as a CYP450 inhibitor, which should not be used with some medications, I often use it as a surrogate for CBD and THC to check for potential drug interactions,” says Wohlschlagel. ”Due to the historic lack of research on cannabis, we do not have a wealth of research on its potential drug-drug interactions. But when I educate patients, I tell them to check for grapefruit interactions on trustworthy pharmaceutical websites like WebMD. There, they will see that using tamoxifen with grapefruit—and, we must conclude, large doses of cannabinoids as well—could risk reducing the hormone-blocking effects of tamoxifen for breast cancer patients. This could be critical for their outcomes.”

Because large doses of cannabinoids like CBD and THC can inhibit metabolism or processing of substances by the liver, reviewing this potential with your healthcare team is important.

In fact, in addition to possibly interfering with hormone-suppressing activity of tamoxifen, larger doses of THC can also suppress the body’s T-cell proliferation, which is a part of the immune system that is critical for tumor cell growth suppression. In these cases, the use of high-THC forms of cannabis could theoretically not only not help, but could also make matters worse, allowing the tumor cells to grow more rapidly.

But especially in the case of breast cancer—or, more accurately, breast cancers—the therapeutic potential of cannabis also comes laden with the potential for harm, and, like all medications, patients need to understand that powerful drugs can create unanticipated interactions with other powerful drugs.

Are cannabinoid-drug interactions dangerous? High doses of CBD isolates are the main culprit in issues with adverse drug interactions. Moreover, CBD isolates, unlike whole-plant extracts, generally require higher doses to be effective. A safe rule of thumb is to take cannabis 20 minutes after pharmaceuticals and alert physicians to monitor changes in drug clearance of antiglycemic, antiepileptic, and anticoagulation pharmaceuticals to adjust a patient’s dose accordingly. Further advice can be obtained from a cannabis provider.

In the liver, CYP1 enzymes metabolize caffeine, melatonin, smoke, and several pharmaceuticals. Whether CBD is inhaled or ingested, drug interactions with CYP1 are less likely if it is administered after the other drug. A cannabis-infused edible may also slow drug metabolism, which in the case of THC could intensify and prolong the effect of melatonin.

When administered sublingually, cannabinoids aren’t immediately processed but neither do they go directly to the brain and heart—like inhaled drugs. Topical administration does not enter the blood stream therefore has no potential for drug interactions.

How Cannabis Affects Body Systems

The enzymes in the body that synthesize ingested drugs are in the CYP450 family. Cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits or slows the metabolism of the CYP1 family when given 20 minutes before the pharmaceutical. The timing of applying Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol does not slow its metabolism. High concentrations of CBD or THC can boost the production of those enzymes a day later.

CYP2D6 metabolizes many opiates, antipsychotics, and antidepressants (both tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). CYP2D6 activates the prodrug tamoxifen, a pharmaceutical treatment for breast cancer. Because CBD inhibits the ID-1 gene, which can reduce breast cancer metastasis, it’s worth studying potential interactions.

The CYP2C enzymes metabolize many antiepileptic drugs, phytocannabinoids (including THC and CBD), and some endocannabinoids, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, warfarin, diazepam, and other pharmaceuticals. THC has a more varied effect on drugs metabolized by CYP2. People with certain genetic differences in CYP2C enzymes are likely to experience more significant cannabinoid-drug interactions and at lower doses. CBD isolates, like Epidiolex ® cannabidiol, have caused significant interactions with antiepileptic drugs, whereas whole-plant extracts generally have not.

Despite medical cannabis’s legalization for medical use throughout 31 different jurisdictions in the United States, practicing providers have little research and few guidelines for patient care.