CBD and Blood Thinners: Similarities and Differences

cbd and blood thinners

Posted on March 10th, 2021

CBD, hemp, marijuana, weed – people think they mean the same thing. However, they are quite different. Marijuana and hemp come from cannabis Sativa, but they vary in chemical composition. Hemp contains a high percentage of CBD, a compound that has various health benefits. It is also a legal ingredient in various products, such as CBD oil, lotions, capsules, and tinctures. On the other hand, marijuana contains THC, an intoxicating compound that triggers a euphoric feeling once someone consumes it. There are a lot of mixed opinions and questions about the potential therapeutic properties of CBD. One such topic is the comparison of CBD and blood thinners. We’ll dive into that comparison in this article, along with other information about CBD and blood thinners individually.

What is CBD?

One question that usually comes to people’s minds when they think of CBD is whether it makes you high or not. No, CBD doesn’t make users stoned. Its molecular structure is different from THC, so it won’t have similar effects. CBD is short for cannabidiol. It comes from the cannabis Sativa plant, which can either be hemp or marijuana. In fact, the cannabis Sativa plant contains more than 80 cannabinoids, and CBD is one of them. Generally, hemp contains more CBD and almost no THC, while marijuana contains much more THC.

How Does CBD Work?

The endocannabinoid system is a crucial cell-signaling system that regulates various body functions, such as memory, mood, sleep, reproduction and fertility, and appetite. In fact, CBD consumption triggers the endocannabinoid system, helping it control various processes. Some things it affects are metabolism, stress, immune system and inflammation responses. It can also affect memory, bone growth, cardiovascular system function, muscle formation, skin and nerve function, digestion and appetite, and liver function. 

The endocannabinoid system starts to malfunction once people start leading a stressful life. Work pressure, financial stability, competition to earn more, and personal relationships often take a toll on the endocannabinoid system. These factors lead to incorrect levels of endocannabinoids, resulting in an imbalance. Endocannabinoid imbalance can become the root cause of various chronic diseases, depression, and anxiety. 

When someone goes through a stressful situation, the mind interacts with the pituitary gland. This then releases hormones to the adrenal glands, starting a chain reaction. The adrenal gland releases specific hormones for active communication with the body’s other cells and organs, resulting in alerting the sympathetic nervous system. It keeps necessary energies active to help the mind overcome stressful situations. Therefore, endocannabinoid imbalance can lead to an aggravation where the mind cannot take the stress anymore. 

But what does all this have to do with CBD and blood thinners? First of all, the above process creates a hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal axis. The adrenal gland produces cortisol (stress hormone) as soon as a person experiences stressful conditions. The body immediately produces more glucose to counter cortisol production. The endocannabinoid system ensures that it relieves stress by creating an interface between the different behavioral levels and stimulus inputs. This is also the reason why a person experiences panic or anxiety attacks when there are consistent stressful conditions.

 Triggering Dormant Processes

CBD is responsible for triggering the actions that usually remain dormant in the endocannabinoid system. It activates various ‘wires’ in the brain responsible for processing stress efficiently. These wires contain a significant cannabinoid receptor density, such as the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus. They become the first responders to stressful situations. This area also contains cannabinoid receptors. Therefore, when someone consumes CBD during a stressful condition, it activates these receptors and helps the mind to calm down. 

Cannabinoids are also responsible for modulating synaptic transmissions. It means it triggers neural synapses via the brain’s retrograde messengers. This may explain why CBD is so effective for some people in stressful situations as it helps the endocannabinoid system work at its optimum condition. Overall homeostasis is the ultimate goal of the ECS.

CBD Effects

CBD is now a popular option for various ailments. Usually if someone is comparing CBD and blood thinners, it’s because they’re looking for natural pharmaceutical alternatives. Many scientific studies confirm that CBD alleviates anxiety and chronic pain symptoms. Here are some of the potential therapeutic effects of CBD that people should know before consuming it:

  • Pain – CBD works with the endocannabinoid system to activate the receptors responsible for reducing inflammation. As already mentioned, the endocannabinoid system regulates various body functions such as pain. Consuming CBD triggers the receptors that can alleviate joint pain successfully.
  • Depression/ Anxiety – Although most doctors recommend pharmaceutical drugs to control anxiety and depression symptoms, CBD may also  ease symptoms of these disorders. Pharmaceutical drugs come with various side-effects, such as headache, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, agitation, and drowsiness. CBD has no serious side effects and can also minimize these other side-effects. 
  • Cancer-related symptoms – Many studies suggest that CBD consumption leads to relieving cancer-related symptoms and cancer treatment side-effects, including vomiting, pain, and nausea. Various experiments confirm that CBD reduces chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. 
  • Neuroprotective properties – A person’s neurological condition deteriorates over time. However, CBD combines with the endocannabinoid system in a way that may soothe neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. 

Why Compare CBD and Blood Thinners?

CBD is definitely a vasodilator. It demonstrates various vasodilatory effects on the pulmonary circulation. CBD induces a concentration-dependent reaction once it enters the body. It neither affects the U46619-induced vasoconstriction nor the basal tone. Its pEC50 value is responsible for triggering a vasodilatory response in the mid-micromolar range. However, CBD can extrapolate via in-vivo concentrations that help to decrease blood pressure significantly during stressful situations. 

According to many studies, CBD used on psychiatric patients didn’t produce any side-effects because of its vasodilatory response. This gave rise to the question of whether hPA mechanisms are responsible as a side-effect of CBD’s vasodilatory function. In fact, the hPA mechanism is dependent on endothelium functioning. It has nothing to do with CBD. Furthermore, the highest CBD concentration didn’t react to hPA’s regular functioning, thus proving that CBD’s vasodilator functions are non-reactive to hPA.

bloodDifferences in CBD and Blood Thinners

Despite CBD’s vasodilatory properties, CBD and blood thinners aren’t the same. This is a  common misconception among people. In general, blood thinners prevent the formation of blood clots. They ensure that the blood flow to the brain, lungs, and heart remains smooth. However, different blood thinners have different functions. Some of them keep blood cells from sticking in the blood vessels. 

Blood thinners work with different enzyme systems to metabolize various medications. For example, one blood thinner metabolizes the cytochrome P-450 system. This system contains nearly 50 unique enzymes that keep the blood flowing properly. 

Many studies suggest that CBD and blood thinners interact with each other. In fact, the cytochrome P-450 system significantly metabolizes one of the blood thinners. On the other hand, CBD also inhibits the same enzyme that belongs to the same class. This happens because CBD works as the cytochrome P-450 system’s substrate. 

Scientists believe that CBD is the most competitive inhibitor of all the enzymes present in the cytochrome P-450 system. This causes blood thinners like Warfarin to remain in the bloodstream for long periods because CBD impairs its breakdown process. Taking CBD and Warfarin together may result in CBD increasing Warfarin’s plasma concentration of the body, leading to bleeding complications. 

CBD and Grapefruit Warning

According to the Harvard Medical School report, grapefruit triggers the liver enzymes that CBD usually blocks. The problem with this system is the efficacy of the medication. Grapefruit may override the purpose of CBD, thus preventing other medications from working properly. People may either need to choose between CBD and grapefruit. It’s not wise to take both of them on the same day if the user also takes other medications. 

A high dose of CBD can inhibit the enzyme’s activities. On the other hand, taking grapefruit at the same time could block some of CBD’s activity. 

Combining CBD and Blood Thinners

People may use CBD and blood thinners for different purposes although they work along some of the same lines. Both may help to alleviate chronic medical condition symptoms. But even though people take it for different reasons, they should understand that different blood thinners may work differently with CBD products. 

That doesn’t mean people should immediately choose between CBD and blood thinners. It is wise to consult a doctor regarding the dosage instructions before deciding anything. Some anticoagulants may lead to unusual bruising, gum bleeding, and prolonged bleeding. But a few blood thinners like Edoxaban, Heparin, and Dabigatran don’t react if people continue using CBD products. However, scientists are still unsure about combining blood thinners and CBD.

Many experiments suggest that CBD causes a synergistic or additive effect when consumed with blood thinners. This often defeats the purpose of why people use blood thinners or CBD in the first place. In rare cases, CBD may increase the blood thinner’s potency significantly enough to increase some bleeding risks.

Consult Your Doctor

The wisest decision is to consult with a doctor before combining CBD and blood thinners. They will assess the patient’s condition, decide which blood thinner is suitable, and whether CBD will react with that blood thinner or not. So far, the data suggests that CBD is very safe, even when combined with most medications. Unfortunately, research is still relatively sparse, so concrete conclusions are hard to come by.

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