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CBD Effects on the Thyroid

Posted on August 18th, 2020

CBD has undoubtedly taken the mainstream market by storm – it is no longer a surprise entrant but a likely long-stay. CBD is a naturally occurring cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant or industrial hemp plant. Unlike THC, another common cannabinoid present in the cannabis plant, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that does not result in a ‘high‘ feeling. Thanks to the potential benefits and non-psychoactive properties of CBD, its products may be able to help symptoms of various conditions. But what about the effects of CBD on the thyroid? Let’s take a deeper look into what the thyroid is and how CBD may affect it.

What Is the Thyroid?

The thyroid refers to the butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located on the front part of the neck and below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid secretes thyroid hormones, with the main one being thyroxine (also known as T4). Thyroid hormones serve several functions in the body, including influencing metabolism, body temperature, and growth and development. In infants, adequate levels of thyroid hormone are essential for brain development.

Various thyroid conditions interfere with the normal functioning of the thyroid, and for which CBD may be able to help with the symptoms. These conditions include thyroiditis, goiter, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Graves disease, thyroid nodule, thyroid cancer, and thyroid storm.

Cannabinoids and the Endocrine System

The endocrine system refers to a collection of glands responsible for producing hormones that regulate various bodily functions. Some of these functions include metabolism, reproduction, growth and development, and tissue function. The thyroid gland is one of the glands that make up the endocrine system.

The endocannabinoid system in the human body is made up of the endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes, and is responsible for balance and homeostasis in the body. Endocannabinoids bind to specific receptors for various functions, including thyroid function. Enzymes are tasked with breaking down the endocannabinoids soon after completing their function.

Early research indicated that the consumption of cannabis may have an effect on the endocrine system. Particularly, the CB1 cannabinoid receptor has been found to have an effect on the regulation of the endocrine system, including the thyroid hormone .

Cannabinoids like CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system to maintain balance in the human body. While studies are not conclusive on how CBD works with the endocannabinoid system, some studies suggest that it may help ease inflammation, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and suppress seizures.

CBD and Thyroid Conditions

Though there has not been much research on CBD’s effect on the thyroid, clinical studies have indicated the importance of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors) on malignant and benign thyroid lesions. These studies showed that the cannabinoid receptors could be therapeutic targets to inhibit some thyroid conditions.

The studies also showed that both receptors interfere with molecular interactions and influence the formation and growth of thyroid tumors . As indicated earlier, these receptors could be potential therapeutic targets to inhibit the progression of thyroid tumors.

Scientists also discovered that cannabinoid receptors are present in the thyroid gland cells and within the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN). The PVN is a part of the brain that sends signals to the pituitary gland, releasing hormones to organs like the thyroid and adrenal gland to regulate their activities

Is CBD Effective in Managing Thyroid Conditions?

Besides its potential to impact the growth of thyroid tumors, the effects of CBD may impact thyroid conditions such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. And, it may have the potential to help with the symptoms that come with these conditions. Cannabinoids have been found to have an effect on the cannabinoid receptors in the thyroid gland. This suggests that CBD may be able to affect the activities of the thyroid (secretion of thyroid hormones).

Hyperthyroidism refers to when the thyroid gland goes into overdrive. It then results in an increased metabolic rate and a rapid heartbeat. While there’s no proof that CBD can help normalize this condition, the ability of cannabinoids to influence the activity of the cannabinoid receptors in the thyroid shows that CBD could have potential in impacting these conditions (production of too much or too little T4, as in hypothyroidism).

Other studies have indicated that CBD and other cannabinoids may help manage some of the symptoms associated with thyroid disorders, including:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Dry skin
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia

CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory and antidepressant potential and may, therefore, help ease the inflammation and pain associated with thyroid conditions. It may also be used for sleep disorders like insomnia and might come in handy here as well. Thyroid conditions such as hyperthyroidism are also characterized by weight loss due to diarrhea, which may be managed by CBD.

CBD Products for Thyroid Conditions

For now, it is not scientifically proven whether CBD can be used to manage the various thyroid conditions. However, this cannabinoid may come in handy in managing the associated symptoms.

Studies have only indicated the effect that cannabinoids have on the endocannabinoid system and the endocrine system. However, CBD has properties that may help manage some of the symptoms that come with thyroid conditions.

CBD oil is probably the most common CBD product among individuals who believe in the potential of this cannabinoid. But why CBD oil? Oils are great molecular carriers.

CBD oil is also easily ingested and efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream. Besides being taken sublingually, CBD oil can also be used by adding in smoothies and shakes. Determining the right dosing of your CBD oil is likely to be a trial and error process before you find what works for you. Be sure to check the instructions and recommended dosing on the product, as this may vary between products and companies.

When choosing your CBD oil, it is important that you choose full-spectrum CBD oil as it contains most of the cannabinoids present in the cannabis or hemp plant as well as other essential compounds like terpenes. It is also advisable to go for a high-quality CBD oil to get the best results.

CBD and Thyroid Medication

Like many other medications, CBD and thyroid medications compete in the cytochrome P450 pathways for metabolism. Such interaction could result in the accumulation of thyroxine due to the competition, and may, in turn, lead to hyperthyroidism. Whenever thyroid medication and CBD oil are taken too closely together, individuals may experience anxiety and mild nausea.

Apart from the interaction of CBD oil and thyroid medication, the use of CBD oil in the management of symptoms associated with various conditions is legal and generally safe. Most states allow the use of CBD, as long as the THC content is not greater than 0.3%. However, it’s always a good idea to check with state and local laws first.

If you are unsure whether there could be a risk of interaction between your thyroid medication and CBD oil, lookout for a “grapefruit warning”. This would give you an idea of whether an interaction is likely. Grapefruit contains compounds known as furanocoumarins that bind with CYP450 enzymes and neutralize them, making the breakdown and elimination of drugs from the body difficult.

It is recommended that you check your medicine label and always consult your doctor before taking CBD. This is especially important if you are taking any medication or have any health conditions.

Does Marijuana Affect the Thyroid?

Now that you are aware of CBD’s potential effects on the thyroid, you may be wondering what effect marijuana could have on the thyroid. While marijuana could contain traces of CBD, it largely consists of THC, another cannabinoid present in the cannabis plant.

THC could have a similar effect on the thyroid as other cannabinoids like CBD. However, marijuana is not used to manage any thyroid conditions for its psychoactive properties. On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive and doesn’t cause the ‘high’ associated with THC. It is for this that CBD products are more commonly used for various purposes.

Key Takeaways

There has been little research on the effect of CBD on the thyroid. However, initial clinical studies indicate that cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system. This shows that CBD could potentially influence the functioning of the endocannabinoid system. Another way through which CBD can potentially affect the thyroid is by binding with the cannabinoid receptors present in the thyroid. This way, CBD could influence the various thyroid functions, including homeostasis.

While there may be little known about the effects of CBD on the thyroid, CBD products may be used to help manage some of the symptoms associated with thyroid conditions. Conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are characterized by inflammation, pain, anxiety, and insomnia. Particularly, CBD has potential anti-inflammatory and antidepressant properties. These properties may help reduce symptoms such as inflammation, pain, and anxiety that come with thyroid conditions.

But what about the effects of CBD on the thyroid? Let's take a deeper look into what the thyroid is and how CBD may affect it.

What drugs should not be taken with CBD?

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Contents

  1. CBD interaction with drugs & medication
  2. Drugs that should not be taken with CBD
  3. Does CBD oil affect blood pressure?
  4. Does CBD oil thin the blood?
  5. Does caffeine counteract CBD?

Cannabis is a complex plant, with hundreds of chemicals and over 100 distinct cannabinoids. The little research that examines cannabidiol or CBD, the second most common cannabinoid found in cannabis, shows evidence of potential health benefits for a wide range of conditions. As CBD becomes more mainstream, however, a key question comes to mind, “How will CBD interact with my current medication?”

Currently, sparse research suggests that CBD can illicit problematic interactions with certain other prescription drugs. The findings are far from conclusive — further research is still needed on CBD’s interaction with different medications. Many doctors and researchers urge individuals using CBD medically or recreationally to be cautious about mixing it with other prescriptions and to consult healthcare providers about possible interactions.

Many doctors urge individuals using CBD to be cautious about mixing it with other prescriptions and to consult healthcare providers about possible interactions.

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CBD interaction with drugs & medication

Have you heard of the grapefruit test? Many prescription drugs will include grapefruit warnings on the label, advising against consuming the citrus fruit while taking medication. Many medications are broken down in the liver and small intestine by a group of proteins called cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs). This process is what delivers a medication’s benefits to the intended target.

Grapefruit disrupts the activity of CYPs and slows the way these proteins usually break down medication. The fruit also increases the side effects and duration the drug stays in the system. One 2013 study titled “Grapefruit Medication Interactions: Forbidden Fruit or Avoidable Consequences?” published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that grapefruit can increase blood content levels when interacting with at least 85 different drugs. The reported consequences were severe, including irregular heartbeat, organ failure, internal bleeding, and death.

Further, a 1993 study conducted by pharmacology researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and published in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology, discovered that CBD, much like grapefruit, disrupts the normal function of cytochrome P450 enzymes in mice. The study postulated that while the blockage could allow patients to take lower doses of their prescriptions, it could also cause a toxic buildup of chemicals in the body. Since this study’s publication, several scientific and medical journals have published evidence of the grapefruit-like effects of CBD in humans.

The type, quality, and purity of CBD administered all affect how it interacts with your body and medication. The timing of when you take CBD and any other prescription drug also factors into how the two may interact in your body. And of course, every individual responds to medications differently, depending on genetics, age, weight, and other factors.

The type, quality, and purity of CBD administered all affect how it interacts with your body and medication. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Let’s examine the current research on CBD’s interaction with several common prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Should I take CBD with ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicine that reduces pain and inflammation in the body. Ibuprofen has a risk of blood-thinning and can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea.

Potentially, CBD can increase the duration and strength of ibuprofen, thereby increasing the risk of adverse side effects. No human studies to date examine CBD’s interaction with NSAIDs specifically. Still, two studies conducted on animal models in 2006 and 2008 and published respectively in the journals, Pain and Pharmacology, suggest that other cannabinoids may work synergistically with NSAIDs like ibuprofen to reduce pain.

Patients should consult with their healthcare provider before taking ibuprofen with CBD.

Should I take CBD with warfarin?

Warfarin, also known under the brand name Coumadin, is an anticoagulant (blood thinner) medication used to prevent the formation of harmful blood clots that could potentially cause heart attacks or strokes. Warfarin’s risks include severe bleeding, headaches, swelling, or sudden pain in extremities.

In 2017, researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, conducted a study published in Epilepsy & Behavior Case Reports which showed that CBD increases the effects of drugs used for blood-thinning by slowing down how the body metabolizes warfarin and prolonging its presence in the system. By increasing the duration of warfarin’s presence in the body, CBD could potentially exacerbate some of the associated risks.

Patients taking generic warfarin or Coumadin should consult their healthcare provider for individualized information and get blood tests before beginning a CBD regimen.

Should I take CBD with thyroid medication?

Thyroid medication is used to treat thyroid disorders, most commonly hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) via thyroid hormone replacement, and hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) via anti-thyroid medication. Different medications achieve these objectives through different pathways in the body. Side effects of thyroid hormone replacement therapies include chest pain, anxiety, headaches, and vomiting. While rare, anti-thyroid medication side effects can include rash, itching, fever, aches, and headaches.

Little research studying interactions between CBD and common thyroid hormone replacement and anti-thyroid medications currently exists. Patients taking thyroid medication who want to try CBD should consult with their physician.

Should I take CBD with Eliquis?

Eliquis (generically called apixaban) is a blood thinner used to lower the risk of stroke or a blood clot in veins, the heart, the lungs, and the legs following knee or hip replacement surgery. Eliquis increases the risk of severe bleeding, and patients taking Eliquis are typically prescribed precise dosages by their doctor.

CYP proteins process Eliquis in the liver, the same proteins on which CBD acts to delay metabolization. This process could cause an overdose of Eliquis’ chemicals in the body and a high risk of severe bleeding.

Patients taking Eliquis should speak to their doctor before using CBD products.

Should I take CBD with Plavix?

Plavix is the brand name of the drug clopidogrel, frequently prescribed for patients who have had or are likely to have a heart attack. The drug works by blocking blood platelets from forming clots in arteries near the heart.

According to a 2011 study published in the journal Life Sciences, it is possible that CBD has an inhibitory effect on CYP2C19, the enzyme that metabolizes Plavix. This could cause Plavix to remain longer in the body and weaken its overall effects. Further research is required to determine whether this could lower Plavix’s effectiveness in preventing heart attacks.

Patients using Plavix or clopidogrel should consult their physicians as to whether they should use CBD.

Should I take CBD with Tylenol?

Acetaminophen, the generic name for Tylenol, is a common drug used for pain and fever relief. Acetaminophen carries a risk of liver damage and disease, with side effects including nausea, headaches, and insomnia.

Acetaminophen and CBD both are metabolized by CYP450, which lowers the effectiveness of both chemicals as they’re processed in the body. One controversial 2019 study, conducted by the University of Arkansas on mice and published in the journal Molecules, claimed that high doses of CBD contributed to liver toxicity, which could compound acetaminophen’s liver damage potential. However, the study’s authors have been accused of cherry-picking research and designing experiments to showcase potential CBD toxicity. The one study they cited with human test subjects did not show liver toxicity from CBD.

More research is required to confirm potential interactions between CBD and acetaminophen. Patients looking to take both simultaneously should consult their physician.

Should I take CBD with metoprolol?

Metoprolol is a beta-blocker designed to treat high blood pressure by reducing the heart rate and changing the release of epinephrine, a hormone involved in stress and other processes. Beta-blockers lower blood pressure and sometimes produce side effects such as dizziness, nausea, stomach pain, heartburn, and cold hands and feet.

No studies have examined potential interactions between CBD and metoprolol. However, some placebo-controlled research conducted on healthy people at the University of Nottingham in England and published in 2017 in the journal JCI Insight has linked CBD with decreased blood pressure when taken on its own. For patients taking metoprolol, however, the combination with CBD could potentially have negative impacts on blood pressure.

A 2011 study performed on mice and published in the British Journal of Pharmacology also shows that CBD has potential nausea-reducing properties, which may help soothe side effects associated with metoprolol.

Patients taking metoprolol or other beta-blockers should consult their doctor as to whether to consume CBD.

Should I take CBD with metformin?

Metformin is a medication prescribed to adults with type 2 diabetes to help control blood sugar levels. Side effects of metformin include low blood sugar, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle pain.

One 2006 study published in the journal Autoimmunity showed that CBD reduced the incidence of diabetes in animal models. To date, however, very little research has specifically covered CBD’s potential in human diabetes treatment or interactions with metformin. Only one study, conducted by the American Diabetes Association and published in 2016 in the journal Diabetes Care, has examined the efficacy of CBD in patients with type 2 diabetes and found it had no significant impact on glucose levels.

More research is needed on CBD’s interaction with diabetes. Patients taking metformin should talk to their doctor about whether CBD is right for them.

Should I take CBD with Xanax?

Xanax (generic name alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine medication used to treat panic disorders, anxiety, and depression. Common side effects of Xanax include drowsiness, lack of coordination, memory loss, and early-morning anxiety.

Xanax breaks down in the liver via an enzyme called CYP3A4, which is inhibited by CBD. Taking CBD could potentially increase the amount of time Xanax is in the system and prolong or increase the likelihood of unwanted side effects. CBD may one day be considered an alternative to Xanax as various research, including a 2011 study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, has documented the cannabinoid’s potential anti-anxiety properties.

No research has explicitly documented interactions between Xanax and CBD. Patients taking Xanax who are interested in CBD should speak to their healthcare providers for more information.

Should I take CBD with statins?

Statins are a classification of drugs designed to lower cholesterol and protect against heart attack and stroke. Common side effects of statins are muscle soreness, blood sugar increase, headaches, and nausea.

Statins are processed by CYP function in the liver, which CBD inhibits. While no research has specifically studied interactions between statins and CBD, the cannabinoid could potentially increase the strength and duration of statins in the system and the risk of unwanted side effects.

Patients taking statins should speak to their healthcare provider before using CBD.

Drugs that should not be taken with CBD

CBD’s documented effects on liver function and enzymes that metabolize several medications are relevant when considering whether or not to consume CBD with certain drugs. CBD acts on the same metabolites as grapefruit — therefore, many of the prescription drugs that carry grapefruit warning labels may have similar risks when taken with CBD.

CBD acts on the same metabolites as grapefruit — therefore, many of the prescription drugs that carry grapefruit warning labels may have similar risks when taken with CBD. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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These drug classifications include a large percentage of existing prescriptions, such as benzodiazepines, antihistamines, haloperidol, antiretrovirals, statins, cyclosporine, sildenafil, warfarin, and other drugs metabolized by CYP3A4 and CYP2D6.

Clobazam, used to treat epileptic seizures, is another type of drug that may not be advisable to take in conjunction with CBD. However, Epidiolex is an FDA-approved, CBD-based drug that physicians may prescribe to treat epilepsy. A significant amount of data, derived from clinical trials, exists on Epidiolex, although the drug can also cause adverse effects, according to a 2019 study conducted by researchers at Columbia University and published in the journal F1000Research.

No research conclusively warns patients against taking these drugs with CBD, though the previously cited 2013 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has shown that grapefruit and drug interactions can lead to severe effects, including irregular heartbeat and sudden death, kidney failure, and muscle damage. Every patient’s case is unique, and individuals should speak to their healthcare providers if they are considering taking CBD in combination with particular prescription medications.

Does CBD oil affect blood pressure?

A previously cited 2017 study titled, “A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study” published in the journal JCI Insight, supports CBD’s ability to lower blood pressure. Researchers also suggest that the anxiety- and stress-reducing properties of CBD may contribute to the overall ability to lower blood pressure. However, CBD taken with blood pressure medication or beta-blockers could potentially cause both drugs to double up on each other and lower blood pressure to unhealthy levels.

Does CBD oil thin the blood?

No research shows that CBD oil taken on its own can thin the blood. CBD oil does increase the effects of blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin, and could potentially push the presence of warfarin beyond therapeutic levels, as the previously cited 2017 study published in Epilepsy & Behavior Case Reports showed.

Does caffeine counteract CBD?

Caffeine and CBD are two substances gaining in popularity, particularly when they’re mixed. Caffeine can keep sleep-deprived individuals alert and clear-headed. Further, a 2007 study on rats published in the journal Pharmacology Reports showed that caffeine is metabolized by CYP enzymes, which CBD inhibits. This could extend the time caffeine stays in the body and has the potential to extend the stimulating effects of caffeine.

The information in this article is based on current research and should not be construed as medical advice. Please speak to your doctor or healthcare provider if you have questions regarding your medication and CBD use.

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