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CBD & Ibuprofen: Can CBD Replace Ibuprofen?

Most of us have used Ibuprofen in one form or another in our lifetime. Whenever a person is in extreme pain, due to surgery, accident, or otherwise, doctors often prescribe Brufen, Advil, Addaprin, Motrin, EmuProfen, or Nurofen to reduce the pain and inflammation, as well as to combat severe headaches or high fever, which often accompany the former issues.

This nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug is also recommended to manage menstrual pains, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, and other chronic pain.

Why DID the Question of Replacement of Ibuprofen Arise?

While this pharmaceutical drug is very effective in combating pain, most patients, who have consumed Ibuprofen in some form, usually complain of several side effects during the course of its use.

They may include:

  • Bloating/gas
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Heartburn
  • Rashes
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
  • Blistering

Sometimes, when taken in higher doses, ibuprofen may also cause long-term or fatal damage to the body, like:

  • Stomach ulcers, accompanied by possible bleeding
  • High blood pressure
  • Hemorrhage
  • Anemia
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

While NSAIDs are often prescribed by doctors, who themselves admit to these side effects. They also warn patients about them and try to prepare them to handle these side effects effectively.

Nonetheless, everyone would prefer an alternative – one that is as effective an analgesic as ibuprofen but does not pose so many threats to one’s health and life.

This is exactly why, ever since hemp cultivation and hemp-based products became legal in the US, many in the scientific world have started wondering if CBD – a non-psychedelic chemical component of cannabis – can replace prescription drugs like ibuprofen.

After all, CBD has been known to be an effective analgesic, with fewer (and way milder) side effects that any NSAID.

How Ibuprofen differs from CBD?

Simply put, CBD seems to have the same effect, with much less adverse effects. However, it is important to understand why they interact with our body so differently.

Although both pharmaceutical drugs and cannabinoids depend on the same liver enzymes (cytochrome P450) to metabolize – the reactions and the pathways these two sets of chemicals take thereafter are totally different.

Once broken down to their molecular units, CBD binds with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, whereas ibuprofen blocks COX-2 (cyclooxygenases) from producing extra prostaglandins.

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Can CBD Actually Replace Ibuprofen?

There are ample studies that point to CBD’s efficiency in managing chronic pain, inflammationheadaches, nausea, menstrual cramps, muscle aches, and rheumatoid arthritis – all of which are generally treated with ibuprofen.

What makes CBD a better option over ibuprofen is the way it interacts with the body as well as the extra benefits it brings as a CBD product.

CBD products don’t simply contain CBD. It comes with a range of cannabis-based phytonutrients that provide the “entourage effect.” The synergistic effects of the usual components of full-spectrum CBD products include a range of cannabinoids, natural terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, and proteins – all of which together offer much more than CBD itself. In fact, they enhance the effects of CBD manifold, making it a much more potent and safe analgesic than NSAIDs.

Which is a better analgesic? Which is safer?

While both ibuprofen and CBD have been found to be more or less equally effective, both have a flipside that one needs to consider.

  • Ibuprofen has many more side effects than CBD
  • whereas CBD hasn’t quite cleared all hurdles to be accepted into the mainstream pharmaceutical industry, i.e. it’s pending clinical trials, despite positive pre-clinical evidence and overwhelmingly optimistic testimonials

While we already have discussed ibuprofen’s side effects, we must also cite CBD’s side effects to get a better understanding of the first above-mentioned point.

CBD’s Side Effects include:

  • Dryness of mouth
  • Slight Dizziness & Low Blood Pressure (contrary to Ibuprofen that increases blood pressure, making it worse)
  • Mild Cases of Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Interaction with pharmaceutical medications

Most of these side effects are mild and very rare and occurs only in some cases when an individual indulges in overdosing (you won’t die of an overdose, though).

As for the last adverse effect of CBD mentioned above, i.e. drug interaction, this is definitely a noteworthy issue. However, it is absolutely preventable.

Note: CBD drug interaction does not cause any serious damage to the body. It only renders the pharmaceutical drug incapable of doing its job effectively. It may delay or hinder the function of the other medication.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, a lot of pharmaceutical drugs as well as CBD utilizes the liver enzyme cytochrome P450 to metabolize and reach the bloodstream. This is particularly true if the CBD is taking the digestive system route, i.e. when administered as capsules, softgels, tablets, or edibles.

However, if you vape it, apply it topically, or use it sublingually, chances of CBD interacting with your pharmaceutical drugs are minimal.

That brings us to the question: Is using CBD alongside an ibuprofen medication safe? Will CBD interact/interfere with the effects of ibuprofen?

Can CBD & Ibuprofen be Taken Together?

People would often say that you should never mix antibiotics or painkillers with alcohol. Although CBD does not follow the same route, there is evidence to support the general idea that CBD DOES, in fact, interact with ibuprofen.

Generally speaking, CBD has been found to interact and interfere with certain pharmaceutical drugs that use the CYP450 system, which as per the Indiana University Department of Medicine, include:

  • Steroids
  • NSAIDs
  • HMG CoA reductase inhibitors
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Antihistamines
  • Prokinetics
  • HIV antivirals
  • Immune modulators
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antiarrhythmics
  • Antibiotics
  • Anesthetics
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-epileptics
  • Beta-blockers
  • PPIs
  • Angiotensin II blockers
  • Oral hypoglycemic agents
  • Sulfonylureas

That means that ibuprofen could most likely interact with CBD. In fact, a 2011 review, published in the Journal of Medicine and Life, titled Cannabinoid system and cyclooxygenase inhibitors, proved exactly that. The researchers in the study concluded, among other things, that:

“Some NSAIDs have additional influences on the cannabinoid system either by inhibiting FAAH (i.e. ibuprofen, indomethacin, flurbiprofen, ibu–am5) or by inhibiting a possible intracellular transporter of endocannabinoids (i.e. acetaminophen).”

So, we may take for granted that the chemical substance that is found in more abundance or higher potency in the body will influence the CYP450 system’s functioning.

Final Thoughts on CBD vs. Ibuprofen

If you think of the pros and cons of both these chemical compounds – cannabidiol and ibuprofen – we can safely say that using CBD is quite a bit safer than taking ibuprofen for pain.

While one can never be sure about how far, how well, or if at all cannabinoids will have adequate benefit for an individual user (it’s always trial and error with CBD), it is better to try something that has fewer side effects that something that is bound to have more severe effects on the body.

Additionally, for those who want to cover all grounds by combining CBD with an NSAID drug like ibuprofen, it may not bear well on your body.

It would be best to consult your doctor about trying out CBD, without taking ibuprofen, and look for an improvement. If it helps, that would be great. If it does not, then maybe, you should go back to using your regular NSAIDs – without combining it with CBD.

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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