As we progress through a time of recreational and medical legalization of cannabis in the United States, marijuana users often have questions about how it affects their physical, emotional, and mental health. For instance, it is not uncommon for one of our patients at Cannabis Doctor X to ask “Is weed a blood thinner?” This blog will explore the properties of medical marijuana, mostly concerning cannabis and blood thinning.
Weed as a Blood Thinner
Cannabis has emerged as a potential blood thinner, benefiting those with heart issues, particularly as numerous states in the United States are legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. The emergence is mainly due to THC displaying anticoagulant effects in extremely small lab tests.
A significant number of individuals in the United States rely on blood thinners to prevent blood clotting. Lately, various studies and trends have endorsed the idea of using marijuana as a possible alternative to traditional blood thinners.
The rationale for employing marijuana or cannabis as blood thinners stems from the numerous compounds found within it. Nevertheless, medical experts remain cautious about recommending it as a blood-thinning medication.
What is Blood Thinner Medication?
The phrase “blood thinner” doesn’t actually imply that these medications physically thin the blood. Instead, they exhibit either antiplatelet or anticoagulant capabilities, and in some cases, both.
Anticoagulant medications, such as heparin and warfarin, function by inhibiting the development of blood clots within the body. They achieve this by either hindering clot-forming processes or by breaking down existing clots to prevent them from enlarging.
On the other hand, antiplatelet medications like aspirin employ a distinct mechanism to prevent blood clotting. These medications work by stopping platelet aggregation, which is the process of platelets sticking together and ultimately leading to clot formation. Platelets are a type of cell responsible for forming clots.
Can Marijuana Thin Your Blood?
In most instances, cannabinoids do not appear to function as potent blood thinners. If you are wondering: “Is Weed a Blood Thinner?” Unfortunately, there are only a handful of case studies that document the effects of anticoagulants on marijuana users, and these typically involve the use of cannabis alongside anticoagulant medicines.
The general consensus is that phytocannabinoids (from the plant) are not consistent with anticoagulation. However, one study found that THC and even cannabidiol (CBD) could thin the blood of overweight rodents. Interpreting preclinical studies involving rodents can be difficult, as the results often don’t directly apply to human biology. The researchers in this study suggested that cannabinoids might be inhibiting a blood plasma enzyme called thrombin, which is used to promote clotting.
Furthermore, they observed that THC (and CBD) are known to interact with receptors called PPARy3. The authors of the study also mentioned that specific endocannabinoids like anandamide could promote clotting, but these tests were conducted in vitro (in a laboratory test tube) rather than in a living organism.
Smoking Weed While on Blood Thinners
The relationship between cannabis use and blood thinners is complex due to limited research. Generally, patients taking anticoagulants tend to have cardiovascular issues, which can be exacerbated by using cannabis, as THC is known to cause changes in heart rate and blood pressure. These effects are particularly pronounced when smoking or vaping THC products but can also occur with edibles. Therefore, it may be advisable for patients on blood thinners to avoid THC.
Patients prescribed anticoagulants often have compromised cardiovascular systems, making them particularly vulnerable to the effects of cannabis, especially THC. Those with heightened risks of strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular dysfunctions are commonly prescribed blood thinners. Given that THC can worsen cardiovascular issues in susceptible individuals, it is likely best for patients taking blood thinners to avoid it.
Regarding THC’s potential anticoagulant effects, there is very limited evidence suggesting that it may act as an anticoagulant by inhibiting thrombin. However, this evidence comes from a single study involving rodents. The primary concern about THC in this population is actually its impact on blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rhythm, as an older heart might be even more susceptible to these changes.
Can CBD Thin Your Blood?
CBD oil operates in a manner similar to cannabis, possessing properties that give it blood-thinning capabilities. Despite being derived from the hemp plant, CBD oil still exhibits some blood-thinning effects.
There have been reports of CBD products influencing the impact of certain blood thinners, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and warfarin, on the body. These medications are typically metabolized and broken down over time.
According to mentioned reports, CBD oil can alter the duration it takes for the body to metabolize these drugs, extending their influence on blood clotting. CBD achieves this by obstructing the metabolism of these medications in the liver, interfering with the cytochrome P450 enzyme system.
Consult Your Doctor
If you are considering using blood thinner medication and marijuana, we first recommend consulting your doctor. At Cannabis Doctor X, we are happy to answer any questions you may have. Give us a call today!