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Cannabis Consumption Along With Other Drugs May Prove Harmful, Reveals New Study

Researchers at the Washington State University have discovered that using cannabis while consuming other drugs increases the risk of harmful drug-drug interactions.

As part of their research, scientists studied cannabinoids, a group of substances found in the cannabis plant and their important metabolites found in the blood of cannabis users. They found that cannabinoids interfere with the two families of enzymes, which help metabolize different drugs prescribed for a variety of conditions. Following this, either the drugs' positive effects would decrease or their negative effects might rise with too much building up in the body, leading to unwanted side effects like toxicity or accidental overdose.

While more research needs to be done in this field, researchers believe that it is important to be careful while making use of cannabis with other prescription drugs.

Commenting on the findings, Philip Lazarus, senior author on the papers, said, "Physicians need to be aware of the possibility of toxicity or lack of response when patients are using cannabinoids. It's one thing if you're young and healthy and smoke cannabis once in a while, but for older people who are using medications, taking CBD or medicinal marijuana may negatively impact their treatment."

The findings were mentioned in studies published in the journal Drug Metabolism and Disposition. One study focused on a family of enzymes known as cytochrome P450s (CYPs), whereas the other looked at UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs), another enzyme family. Brought together, these two enzyme families help metabolize and eliminate more than 70 percent of the most commonly used drugs from the body.
While earlier there has been little research focused on potential drug interactions caused by cannabinoids, this new research provides the first known comprehensive look at the interaction between three of the most abundant cannabinoids -etrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) -- and their metabolites and all of the major CYP enzymes.

Researchers made use of manipulated human kidney cells, which allowed them to look at a single enzyme at a time and validated their results in human liver and kidney specimens in which many of these enzymes were present. They found that cannabinoids and the major THC metabolites strongly inhibited several CYP enzymes. One key discovery was that one of the most abundant THC metabolites, called THC-COO-Gluc, which had not been earlier studied in this context, had an important role in inhibiting several key enzymes in the liver.

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