Categories
BLOG

pot and viagra

Mixing the Pot? 7 Ways Marijuana Interacts with Medicines

Marijuana interactions

(Image credit: Brian Goodman/Shutterstock)

Marijuana is currently not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for any medical condition, but a number of states do allow people to use the drug for medical or recreational purposes. Still, users should be aware that marijuana may interact with other prescription medications.

Although there’s been limited research on marijuana’s potential drug interactions, here’s what doctors know about how marijuana interacts with other medications:

Viagra

(Image credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported | SElefant)

Marijuana may interact with drugs, including Viagra, that are broken down by chemicals in the liver known as cytochrome P450 enzymes, according to the Mayo Clinic. That’s because compounds in marijuana can inhibit these enzymes. Therefore, marijuana may prevent other drugs from being broken down properly.

As a result, people who smoke marijuana and take these drugs may have increased levels of these other drugs in their blood, which “may cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions,” the Mayo Clinic said.

In one case, reported in 2002 by researchers in the United Kingdom, a 41-year-old man had a heart attack after taking marijuana and Viagra together. The researchers said they could not prove that the marijuana-Viagra combination was definitely the cause of the man’s heart attack; however, they did say that doctors “should be aware” of the effects of inhibiting cytochrome P450 enzymes when prescribing Viagra.

Warfarin

(Image credit: hafakot/Shutterstock.com)

Another commonly prescribed drug that’s broken down by the cytochrome P450 enzymes is the blood thinner warfarin, which is prescribed to treat and prevent blood clots. In 2009, doctors at the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wyoming reported the caseof a 56-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital with stomach bleeding after smoking marijuana frequently while taking warfarin. He went home after a week in the hospital, but then was readmitted just 15 days later with a nosebleed and bruising. He told his doctors that he smoked marijuana, and he was counseled on the potential interactions of marijuana and warfarin.

Because marijuana affects the cytochrome P450 enzymes, it may inhibit the breakdown of warfarin, leading to an increase in warfarin’s effects, the report said. The man stopped smoking marijuana and did not experience further bleeding complications over the next nine months during which the researchers followed up with him.

Benzodiazepines

(Image credit: Mike Flippo/Shutterstock.com)

When people take benzodiazepines — which include muscle relaxants as well as drugs that treat anxiety, such as Valium — in combination with marijuana, the result can be “central nervous system depression,” according to according to a 2007 review paper in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. This means that people can experience decreased breathing and heart rates, and loss of consciousness.

According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana can increase the drowsiness caused by benzodiazepines and some other drugs (such as barbiturates and codeine). Therefore, people need to be cautious if they drive or operate machinery after using these drugs with marijuana, the Mayo Clinic said.

Ketoconazole

(Image credit: mikeledray/Shutterstock.com)

The antifungal medication ketoconazole also inhibitscytochrome P450 enzymes. When this medication is taken with marijuana, it slows the breakdown of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in the body. So, taking the two drugs together may increase the concentration of THC in the body, according to a 2014 article in the trade journal Pharmacy Times.

Prozac

(Image credit: kurhan/Shutterstock.com)

The antidepressant fluoxetine, commonly called by its brand name Prozac, can inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes. This means that, like ketoconazole, fluoxetine mayslow down the metabolism of THC and therefore increase the concentration of THC in the body.

In 1991, researchers reported a case of a 21-year-old who experienced severe mania and psychosis after taking fluoxetine and using marijuana. The researchers hypothesized that marijuana might also increase levels of the chemical serotonin in the brain, which would enhance the effects of fluoxetine, but this is not proven.

Rifampin

(Image credit: Jan Havlicek/Shutterstock)

The antibiotic medication rifampin, which is used to treat tuberculosis and Legionnaires’ disease,can boost the activity of cytochrome P450 enzymes. This means that rifampinmay speed up the breakdown of THC, reducing the levels of that substance in the body, according to the Pharmacy Times.

Diabetes medications

(Image credit: Image Point Fr/Shutterstock.com)

Marijuana may affect people’s blood-sugar levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. Indeed, some studies have found that marijuana users are less resistant to the effects of insulin, the hormone that helps blood sugar get inside cells, which could mean that their systems are better able to control their blood sugar levels.

But on the flip side, other studies have found that marijuana users are at increased risk of developing prediabetes, a condition in which people have elevated blood sugar levels.

People who take marijuana with drugs for diabetes should be monitored closely, and adjustments to their medications may be necessary, the Mayo Clinic said.

Research on marijuana’s potential drug interactions is limited, but here’s what is known.

Is Smoking Weed Good or Bad for Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Marijuana comes from the leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the Cannabis sativa hemp plant. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana’s main chemical is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It also has over 100 related chemicals known as cannabinoids.

Marijuana is smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or inhaled through pipes (bongs). Some people make marijuana tea or mix it into baked goods such as cookies, brownies, and candy.

Marijuana is often associated with side effects that may affect sexual health, including erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is the inability to get and keep an erection. A common condition, it may lead to stress and relationship issues.

If ED happens now and then, there’s often no need for concern. If it’s frequent, it may be a symptom of another health condition. In that case, treating the other condition may resolve ED.

Read on to learn more about the connection between marijuana and ED.

Short-term effects of marijuana include:

  • altered senses
  • altered sense of time
  • mood changes
  • impaired movements
  • difficulty thinking

Marijuana also interferes with short-term memory . Taken over the long term, marijuana may affect brain development and learning, especially for those under 25 years old .

Many states have legalized marijuana for medical use. However, the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved marijuana for any medical condition. But there are synthetic THC medications that are approved for some medical conditions.

Conditions eligible for medical marijuana vary by state, and may include:

  • cancer
  • glaucoma
  • HIV and AIDS
  • hepatitis C
  • pain
  • wasting diseases, such as cachexia
  • nausea
  • seizures and epilepsy
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Medical marijuana isn’t approved for ED. Some states allow marijuana use for conditions not on the approved list, if your doctor identifies them as debilitating.

  1. Marijuana may help reduce damage caused by high cholesterol.
  2. Marijuana has been associated with increased sexual desire and arousal.

High cholesterol is a risk factor for ED. A study published in Clinical and Developmental Immunology found that marijuana may help reduce tissue buildup and damage caused by high cholesterol. However, the study was conducted on mice, not humans, so more research is needed.

Marijuana has a reputation of giving users a feeling of euphoria. Some users report moods that may improve sexual experiences, such as:

  • elevated mood
  • increased sexual desire
  • increased arousal
  1. Some studies suggest that marijuana may contribute to ED.
  2. Daily marijuana use might lead to trouble achieving orgasm in some men.

However, marijuana may not always provide the sexual boost it’s known for. A 2011 literature review published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that marijuana may actually increase the risk of ED.

Studies show that when THC reaches the brain, it gives users the feeling of being “high.” This interferes with your body’s normal functions. It may also impact the normal function of the penis’s smooth muscle, resulting in ED.

Another study from 2010 found that daily marijuana use in men leads to trouble achieving orgasm.

According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana is also a possible cause of gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is an enlargement of the breasts in men, and it’s caused by a hormone imbalance. A hormonal imbalance could affect sexual performance.

Marijuana may cause dangerous interactions with certain drugs, including:

  • Blood thinners. Marijuana may interfere with blood thinners and increase bleeding risk. Use with caution if you take blood thinners such as aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), warfarin (Coumadin), and naproxen (Aleve).
  • Blood sugar medications. It may affect blood sugar levels. Use with caution if you take medications that affect blood sugar, such as insulin.
  • Blood pressure medications. It may lower blood pressure. Be careful if you take blood pressure medications, such as diuretics or beta-blockers.
  • Drugs that cause drowsiness. It may increase drowsiness when taken with drugs that cause drowsiness, such as lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium).

Taking sildenafil (Viagra) with marijuana may not be a smart move either. A 2006 paper published in Clinical Cardiology showed that marijuana prevents Viagra from being properly metabolized. This increases Viagra’s effects, which might mean an increased risk of heart problems.

Other drug interactions are also possible. If you use marijuana, tell your doctor before taking any prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Few large-scale, high-quality studies have explored the connection between marijuana and sexual health. Whether the drug enhances sex or ruins it depends on many factors. These may include the variety of marijuana used, your overall health, and your views on sexual health.

If you have ED and are wondering if marijuana may help, talk to your doctor. They’ll help you weigh the benefits with potential risks and side effects, both sexual and otherwise.

It’s worth getting a diagnosis from your doctor regardless of what treatment approach you decide since underlying conditions might be discovered.

Explore the connection between marijuana and erectile dysfunction (ED). Learn about the effects of marijuana, including its effect on sexual health. Find out the pros and cons of using it. See what the research says about its impact on sexual desire and dysfunction. Also discover how it interacts with medications.