Fraser Horton
Fraser Horton
Last Updated on August 19, 2021

The cannabis plant has been around for ages and people have been using it medicinally, recreationally, as well as in spiritual practices. And while people generally use it in order to experience the psychoactive effects of the main cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is gaining in popularity as well.

As the stigma around cannabis use is decreasing, people are starting to mix it with other prescription medication as well as other drugs which may produce a number of side effects. Previously we have talked about mixing weed with Adderall and the effects it has on users, and in this article, we are focussing on mixing CBD oil with Zoloft, so read on.

Why Do People Use Cannabidiol and Other CBD Products?

Our endocannabinoid system is programmed to regulate our physiological and cognitive processes like pregnancy, fertility, the immune system, appetite, memory, and others, but also to mediate the effects of cannabis. It consists of endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body which bind to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors and give appropriate signals to the body (for example, when the body’s experiencing inflammation, the immune system can kick in).

The cannabinoid receptors also process the main cannabinoids found in weed – THC and CBD – in order to provide pain relief, relaxing, and calming feelings. As CBD and CBD oil tinctures are becoming more popular, scientists dive into further research to find out if it can provide health benefits. Even though there aren’t pharmaceutical products that contain CBD yet, people have begun to use CBD products that are available online as well as in dispensaries around the world.

Medical Research on CBD

A 2018 study published in the Frontiers in Immunology Journal, proves that CBD has anti-anxiety, antiepileptic, and antipsychotic properties and can be used to treat anxiety and depression in patients.

A study done by the Department of Anesthesiology at the Women’s Hospital in Boston, as well as this one by the Oncology Department of Medicine at the University of California, provide information that CBD may help treat chronic pain. 

Although CBD doesn’t produce any serious side effects or withdrawal symptoms, combining CBD with other prescription medications may not be your best bet.

A study done in 2017 by the University of Alabama stated that combining blood thinners like coumadin and CBD oil can increase the amount of blood thinner in the blood.

But can CBD react badly when consumed with Zoloft?

What Are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Antidepressants (SSRIS)?

Serotonin, also called the feel-good hormone, is a vital hormone in the human body which is also a neurotransmitter, and when its levels aren’t normal people can start to experience bad moods and even depression.

Before the era of SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants were used in order to treat depression, but all of that changed at the beginning of the 1990s when Fluoxetine appeared on the market – the first SSRI. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Antidepressants or SSRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. 

In cases when the levels of serotonin decrease, antidepressant medication is prescribed in order to increase its levels. Generally, these drugs are used to improve the mental health of patients and they take anywhere between 2-4 weeks to start working, and users need to stop taking them between 6 months and a year. 

The most common SSRIs that are FDA-approved include:

  • Citalopram (Celexa);
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro);
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac);
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva);
  • Sertraline (Zoloft).

What Is Zoloft (Sertraline) and Why Do People Use It?

Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor which is a common prescription drug for depression. According to an article in Jama Internal Medicine journal, “about 1 in 6 adults in the United States reported taking psychiatric drugs at least once during 2013 in order to treat certain conditions”.

While these medications can aid people suffering from depression, their use also comes with some side effects. The most common ones, like headaches, gastrointestinal disturbance, insomnia, fatigue, gastrointestinal effects, and anxiety, can even come from using low doses of SSRIs. 

On the other hand, abruptly stopping the use of Zoloft may result in the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Restlessness;
  • Insomnia;
  • Sweating;
  • Stomach problems;
  • Feeling irritable, anxious, or confused.

Is Mixing Cannabis and Antidepressants a Good Idea?

People generally mix cannabis and antidepressants in an attempt to find an alternative for them, or in order to increase their effects. As some of the people that are on antidepressants experience symptoms worse than the symptoms that got them on antidepressants, they turn to CBD. So is the combination of Zoloft with CBD a good one?

While mixing Zoloft with grapefruit juice, or high doses of alcohol can result in a number of side effects like decreased blood pressure and enhanced sedation, there aren’t that many studies on how CBD and Zoloft interact. (Harvard Health Publishing, 2005, and Graham et al, 2007)

Databases about drug interaction note that the use of CBD oil and Zoloft can cause some of the same side effects like dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, and loss of concentration, so if you use them together, these side effects might increase. Also, taking CBD oil with Zoloft may reduce the efficacy of Zoloft and vice versa.

One of the few studies available found that “using CBD may block the optimal performance of the liver enzymes which help the body absorb antidepressants”. So one of the side effects of using Zoloft and CBD oil in combination may cause SSRIs to build up in the liver. (Yamaori et al, 2011)

What’s the Verdict on Mixing CBD Oil and Zoloft?

While interactions between CBD oil and antidepressants are rare, especially when it comes to SSRIs, there are certain side effects from consuming both. Potential interactions between CBD oil and Zoloft may include increased dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, and loss of concentration which can be worse than the side effects from consuming each drug on its own. Also, using CBD oil and Zoloft may block your liver’s enzymes that store antidepressants which could interfere with how the body absorbs these medications. 

Even though there may be no serious interactions between CBD and Zoloft, your best bet would be to seek medical advice. Your doctor might know how to ensure supplementation with CBD oil without risk and with little to no side effects if CBD is available where you live. 

Additional sources

Grapefruit and Medication: a Cautionary Note.” Harvard Men’s Health Watch, vol. 10, no. 4, 2005, pp. 7-8.

Graham, K., & Massak, A. (2007). Alcohol consumption and the use of antidepressants. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 176(5), 633–637. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.060446

Yamaori, S., Ebisawa, J., Okushima, Y., Yamamoto, I., & Watanabe, K. (2011). Potent inhibition of human cytochrome P450 3A isoforms by cannabidiol: role of phenolic hydroxyl groups in the resorcinol moiety. Life sciences, 88(15-16), 730–736. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2011.02.017

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