CBD and Psychedelics

What happens when you combine CBD with psychedelics? Unlock the therapeutic benefits of CBD and psychedelics for mental health.
CBD and psychedelics
Author: Nicole LaMarco
By Nicole LaMarco
December 18, 2022(Updated: January 19, 2023)

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical found in cannabis, also known as marijuana. Individuals may use it to treat physical and psychological issues, as are psychedelics. As the use of psychedelics increases, some studies have begun to investigate the relationship between CBD and psychedelics. Especially the practice of using CBD to stop SSRI use, which you should wean before using a psychedelic. 

What is CBD?

CBD is the common name for cannabidiol, an oil found in cannabis and hemp. You can often find it in various forms, including as an oil, extract, vaporized liquid, or oil-based capsule. Additionally, CBD can be infused with everyday products like food or beauty items. 

It doesn’t cause the high that cannabis does because it lacks tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Though it isn’t impairing, different states impose various regulations on CBD oil. It is federally legal in all 50 states if it is hemp-derived and contains 0.3% or less THC.   

A proven use of the oil is as an anti-seizure medication. However, individuals may also seek it for the treatment of schizophrenia, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. Research into CBD’s effectiveness in treating these conditions is still needed. Many individuals may recreationally use CBD for pain and anxiety management. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has, to date, only approved prescription CBD oil by the name of Epidiolex. Other CBD products have not been FDA evaluated and, therefore, can have questionable dosages and purity standards. 

How much CBD you’re receiving is important because it can have side effects, such as diarrhea, drowsiness, reduced appetite, fatigue, irritability, and dry mouth. Furthermore, it can interact with certain medications like blood thinners and antidepressants. The latter is a problematic drug for those interested in using psychedelics. 

CBD to taper SSRI

Using CBD to Get Off SSRIs

Antidepressants, also known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are used to treat major depressive disorders, anxiety conditions, and other psychological disorders. They work by boosting levels of serotonin in your brain. As a chemical messenger, serotonin carries signals between neurons. An SSRI prevents the reuptake of serotonin, meaning the neuron does not reabsorb it, leaving more serotonin which can improve the relay of messages in your brain. 

Experts generally recommend that an individual wean off SSRIs before beginning psychedelic use because certain psychedelics, namely MDMA, have a similar effect on serotonin levels. MDMA is also a serotonin uptake inhibitor, and when used with another SSRI, the positive effects of MDMA are diminished and the outcome can be potentially detrimental. 

The adverse drug reaction between two serotonin-raising drugs taken simultaneously is called serotonin syndrome. During this event, high levels of serotonin accumulate in the body. The result is sweating, irritability, anxiety, confusion, tremors, rapid heart rate, loss of coordination, and fluctuations in blood pressure. It requires immediate medical care as complications can range from mild to life-threatening. The risk for serotonin syndrome is more prominent in hot contexts like festivals or night clubs. In clinical trials of MDMA, participants are required to stop taking SSRIs before they can take MDMA.

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CBD can, in some cases, be used to help a patient taper off SSRIs because of its similar anti-anxiety and anti-depression characteristics and CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system. This system entails receptors in the brain that have been shown to respond to cannabis, which regulates physiological response. You shouldn’t stop SSRIs suddenly, and even weaning off the medication can produce withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, some individuals may use CBD to combat the psychological and physical effects of tapering off their SSRIs. It is important to note that CBD is generally not used as a long-term replacement for SSRIs in these situations. 

When tapering off SSRIs with CBD, it is essential to seek the guidance of your doctor. They can gradually adjust your dosage and monitor you for signs of an adverse reaction or result. Researchers believe CBD inhibits certain liver enzymes, which help flush out specific medications from the body. CBD could reduce the metabolization of SSRIs, posing an unwanted drug interaction. 

“Although there have been animal studies that have shown promising results and patients reporting benefits, the research in humans is limited to only a few studies of patients suffering from depression and treated with SSRIs and were able to successfully transition,” says Carlos De La Hoz, MD.

CBD oil for mental health

CBD and Psychedelics

When you have stopped your SSRIs and are ready for psychedelic therapy, CBD use may still be beneficial. CBD’s calming effects could help reduce negative side effects of psychedelics, often referred to as a bad trip. It may help individuals feel more relaxed, calm, and sedated. Additionally, CBD may help to prevent nausea, which can be common with psychedelic use. 

The possibility that CBD can help negate the negative symptoms of psychedelics while possessing its own benefits is exciting for researchers. One study, in particular, is researching the combination use of psilocybin and CBD on individuals with PTSD and mild traumatic brain injuries. The thought is that CBD can help treat symptoms resulting from a brain injury, like memory and balance disorders. At the same time, psilocybin can potentially promote new neurological pathways that can rewire the brain and improve cognitive health.

It is essential to know that high THC strains of CBD produce the opposite effect when combined with psychedelics, increasing the intensity and duration of the “trip.” 

Can You Mix CBD with Psychedelics?

The decision of whether or not to mix CBD with psychedelics is personal. Cannabis, which includes the psychoactive compound THC, is an amplifier of psychedelics and warrants care if taken together. 

Those who previously used cannabis may be better candidates for combined use than those who have never used the drug before. Cannabis may make you feel differently with certain psychedelics other than psilocybin, such as LSD. But since CBD doesn’t make you feel high, taking it with a psychedelic would likely induce subtle effects, like calm or less anxiety. Little research has been done in this area. 

Interestingly, CBD and ketamine appear to work together in reducing depression. Adding CBD can reduce some of the side-effects of ketamine, making the combination a new therapeutic option.  

For medication questions, you’ll want to work with a medical professional specialized in this area. They may have you try the two drugs separately before combining them. Then, they can monitor you, suggesting when it is safe to administer the CBD with ketamine, or possibly taper off your SSRIs while watching for negative reactions. 

When using anything that changes your sensory perception or cognitive function, it is imperative to practice harm reduction techniques, such as avoiding operating a vehicle or machinery. Considering all the variables and seeking the recommendations of a professional can make combining cannabis with psychedelics safer and provide you with a better experience.

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The content provided is for educational and informational purposes only and should be a substitute for medical or other professional advice. Articles are based on personal opinions, research, and experiences of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Psychedelic Support.

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Author: Nicole LaMarco
Nicole LaMarco
Nicole Lamarco is a freelance health writer with 18 years of experience. Her work has been featured in Shape, Psych Central, Healthgrades, Eat This Not That, Verywell Fit, and other health-related media. Check out her website Nicole LaMarco.

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