October 12, 2021 6 min read

CBD and Delta-9-THC have been in focus for quite some time, so we do have a good bit of research to help us understand the potential benefits, side effects, and drug interactions of both major cannabinoids. Now that Delta-8-THC is emerging into the spotlight, understanding the risk of Delta-8 drug interactions is crucial.

For now, we have to rely on what we know about traditional THC to understand Delta-8’s benefits and risks while research further explores the newly legal cannabinoid. Thankfully, the two cannabinoids are pretty similar, so we have an idea of how Delta-8 may interact with other substances. Here’s what we do and don’t know:

Table of Contents
Delta-9 vs Delta-8 and Metabolic Pathways
THC Drug Interactions
Can You Combine Delta-8 and Delta-9?
Can You Take Delta-8 With Alcohol?
Tips for Using Delta-8 When You Take Medications
Where to Buy Delta-8
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • We need more research to fully understand Delta-8 drug reactions, but experts believe it reacts similarly to THC.
  • Many cannabinoids, including THC, use the same metabolic pathways as many common classes of prescription drugs.
  • It still may be safe to take high-quality Delta-8 products if you take a prescription medication, but check with your doctor first.

Delta-9 vs Delta-8 and Metabolic Pathways

Before we can discuss Delta-8 drug interactions, we need to discuss what causes drug interactions to begin with.

There are, of course, many different reasons that substances can have either a negative or positive reaction when combined (hello high school chemistry!), but the primary reason that drugs interact inside the body is because they have conflicting metabolic needs. In other words, they may share the same metabolic pathway, which means they can impact each other's absorption.

For instance, many prescription medications use the CYP3A4 metabolic pathway. This is the reason that you may need to take certain medications a few hours apart or at different times during the day.

A prescription medication with a grapefruit warning, which also means it may interact with Delta-8

Some medications may even come with a “grapefruit warning” which further demonstrates the idea of conflicting metabolic pathways. Grapefruit is known to inhibit the CYP3A4 enzyme, which means that it can delay or prevent the absorption of drugs that rely on that enzyme. The grapefruit warning simply means that you shouldn't take that medication with grapefruit juice.

Research has found that both CBD and THC heavily rely on the CYP3A4 metabolic pathway for absorption and are known to inhibit the CYP3A4 enzyme. That means that they have the potential to react with any drug that uses that same metabolic pathway, which unfortunately is most prescription medications.

Still, some evidence suggests that the interaction may not be very significant. One study found that "Studies of THC, CBD, and CBN inhibition and induction of major human CYP-450 isoforms generally reflect a low risk of clinically significant drug interactions with most use," but also noted that human trials are lacking and more information is needed.

Still, all of the data available is about either CBD or Delta-9-THC, so where do Delta-8 drug interactions come into play? The answer is we aren't entirely sure, but many experts assume that it uses the same metabolic pathway and has the same drug interactions as traditional THC. Delta-8 and Delta-9 are incredibly similar in many ways, so it’s not a far fetched assumption. There is one primary difference between the two, however. Delta-8 is known to be far less potent, so it's thought to have an even lower potential for drug interactions.

Although we don't have any research that specifically addresses Delta-8 drug interactions, we do know a bit about THC drug interactions in general:

THC Drug Interactions

A spilled bottle of prescription medications

Although it's possible that the interaction is small, THC is still known to negatively interact with some prescription medications, including:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opioids
  • Antidepressants
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Blood Pressure Medications
  • Blood Sugar Medications

As we mentioned previously, all of these medications rely on the CYP3A4 enzyme that THC may suppress. This means that the drug may break down more slowly due to a lack of available enzymes.

In some cases, this means that the medication will be less effective. This can be particularly dangerous when taking a necessary life saving medication. In other cases, a drug may break down so slowly that it is not metabolized before your next dose. That means that high levels of the medication can accumulate in the body, which can definitely be dangerous.

THC may sometimes amplify the effect of certain medications. For instance, THC may increase the sedative-like effects of benzodiazepines since THC sometimes has a sedative effect of its own.

It's uncertain whether Delta-8-THC interacts with all of the same medications in the same manner as traditional THC, but the effects are thought to be very similar. That doesn't necessarily mean that you cannot take Delta-8 if you already take other medications, but you may need to take some extra steps to ensure your safety.

The most important step, of course, is discussing Delta-8 with your prescriber before you combine any substances or change your medication routine.

Can You Combine Delta-8 and Delta-9?

Many people wonder if there could be any adverse or potentially beneficial interactions between Delta-8 and Delta-9. In other words, is it safe to take Delta-8 and Delta-9 at the same time?

In short, there's no known adverse reaction caused by combining the two, but the benefits may be minimal. Delta-9’s potent intoxication may easily overshadow the effects of Delta-8. Of course, the actual effects depend on how much of each cannabinoid you take and your personal THC tolerance. You can learn more about this by reading “Can You Take Delta-8 and Delta-9 Together?

Can You Take Delta-8 With Alcohol?

While you may not experience any severe adverse reactions from occasionally mixing THC with alcohol (a method referred to as “cross fading”), it's not recommended to combine the two. Drinking alcohol before taking THC can increase THC absorption in the body, which can quickly lead to an unpleasant dosing experience. One older study even suggests that THC may slow down the absorption of alcohol, which may prevent feelings of drunkenness and lead to over consumption.

Research doesn't have much to say about Delta-8-THC specifically, especially in terms of combining it with alcohol, but it's better to play it safe and choose only one recreational substance at a time.

Tips for Delta-8 Dosing When You Take Prescription Medications

If you regularly take medications, don’t fret! You still may be able to enjoy the therapeutic or recreational benefits of Delta-8-THC. Before you add Delta-8 to your dosing routine, however, be sure to consider the following tips:

A bottle of Delta-8-THC oil that can be used alongside certain medications with a doctor's guidance.

Discuss Delta 8 with Your Doctor

First and foremost, you should always talk to your doctor when changing your medication routine, even when adding a natural supplement like hemp-derived cannabinoids. Be sure to ask your doctor about the potential of Delta-8 drug interactions, and make sure that he or she is up to date on current THC research.

Start Low and Slow

If you've gotten your doctor's approval, then you should start with using Delta-8 in very small doses. This is especially important if you don't have much experience with THC and aren't sure how you'll react.

Remember, some medications can potentiate the effects of Delta-8, which can mean that less is more. You can always take another dose later if needed, after you get an idea of how the smaller dose felt, how long it takes to kick in, and how long you can expect the effects to last.

Space Out Your Doses

You should definitely follow your doctor's recommendations first and foremost, but if he or she doesn't give you any specifics about when to take Delta-8, we recommend taking Delta-8 at a different time than when you take your prescription medications. Usually a few hours is enough to suffice, and will allow the body's CYP3A4 enzymes to regulate in between doses.

Track the Effects

When you first start taking Delta-8, keep track of small details, like how much Delta-8 you took, what time you took your prescription, what time you took your Delta-8 dose, how intense the effects were, or how long they lasted. This type of information will help you and your doctor adjust your dosing routine to better suit you.

Avoid Other Substances

It may go without saying, but you'll probably want to avoid layering on other substances when you combine Delta-8 with your medications. Only combine Delta-8 with other substances when you have your doctor’s go ahead, and avoid combining Delta-8 with other recreational substances or alcohol.

Looking for Delta-8 to Buy Online?

One of the greatest benefits to Delta-8-THC is that it is federally legal when made from legal hemp material, which means you can buy it online and have it shipped right to your door.

Check out our Elev8 Collection to find the best Delta-8 edibles, flower, and tinctures the market has to offer! All Vida Optima products are 100% Farm Bill compliant and made according to the industry’s highest quality standards.

 Vida Optima Elev8 Gummies

Resources

  1. “Get to Know an Enzyme: CYP3A4” https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/2008-09-8687
  2. “Medicinal Cannabis—Potential Drug Interactions” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473892/
  3. “Exogenous cannabinoids as substrates, inhibitors, and inducers of human drug metabolizing enzymes: a systematic review”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24160757/
  4. “Marihuana attenuates the rise in plasma ethanol levels in human subjects” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1326277/

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