Cymbalta and Medical Marijuana
Posted by Glenn Beierle on 10/23/2017 in Medical Marijuana
Updated on January 29, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Cymbalta is a drug used for several purposes. The conditions it treats often appear on state lists of medical issues approved for medical marijuana use. So, patients who think about using both may have a lot of questions that need to be answered.
Like any other medicine, you must consider whether Cymbalta has any conflicts with medical marijuana. Combining drugs can impact the effectiveness of your medicine, and marijuana is no different. In addition, you might wonder if you can use medicinal cannabis as a total replacement for Cymbalta — many cannabis patients take medical marijuana as an alternative to prescription drugs.
What Is Cymbalta?
Cymbalta, also known as duloxetine, is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI). As the name implies, SSNRIs increase the serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Therefore, Cymbalta helps manage the chemicals in your brain that influence mood and pain levels.
It comes in the form of a capsule that you take with water or another drink. The standard capsule immediately releases the medicine, providing an immediate and strong benefit. On the other hand, the delayed release capsule slowly releases the medicine into your system, producing a milder effect that lasts longer.
Side effects of Cymbalta range from mild to severe. Common and minor side effects include aches, frequent urination, excessive sweating, sleep issues and weight loss. Rarer side effects include digestive issues and sexual problems.
In extreme cases, a patient can experience withdrawal symptoms you should immediately get emergency medical care for. Some have to do with muscle control, such as muscle spasms, tremors, coordination problems, overactive reflexes and loss of bladder control. Others relate to overstimulation, like agitation, restlessness, sleep issues and uncontrollable excitement.
If you use Cymbalta for depression, be aware it can worsen your depression symptoms, sometimes to the extent that you feel suicidal. If you deal with increased depression when you take it, contact your doctor right away.
Who Uses Cymbalta?
If you don’t take Cymbalta already, you might be curious about the kinds of patients who use it. Knowing who doctors prescribe it to can help us understand its purpose and whether your doctor could prescribe it in the future. You may also be the loved one of a patient taking Cymbalta and want to learn more.
The conditions that Cymbalta treats directly overlap with conditions approved for marijuana use.
Cymbalta can be used to treat health issues such as:
- Anxiety disorders
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Other chronic pain related to bones and muscles
- Pain from nerve damage
Keep in mind, Cymbalta doesn’t suit every population. We don’t have enough research to figure out if we can use it for children, the elderly, pregnant people and those who are breastfeeding.
Folks with certain health problems shouldn’t use Cymbalta, either. Most of them relate to the withdrawal symptoms and side effects that Cymbalta can cause. People who have health issues like diabetes, problems with urination, high blood pressure and liver disease shouldn’t use it, although you should do your research to know every single one.
Drug Interactions With Medical Marijuana
While marijuana and Cymbalta can be used for similar purposes, you should take caution if you use them together. Some of their side effects also overlap, making them even worse to handle.
The issues you experience when the two drugs interact tend to be related to cognitive and motor function. Cognitive side effects include concentration problems, confusion, impaired judgment and difficulty thinking. The motor side effects you can experience include reduced coordination and dizziness.
These side effects become even worse when you use alcohol. Alcohol already causes impairment related to thinking and movement. So, naturally, it combines with Cymbalta and marijuana to exacerbate your issues even more.
However, these interactions don’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use the two together at all. Rather, you should closely monitor your symptoms and keep in touch with your doctor. Detecting severe interactions earlier can help you feel better faster.
Drugs.com classifies the interaction between Cymbalta and marijuana as moderate. According to their guide, doctors should only recommend the combination in special circumstances. So, how dangerous the interactions will depend on your individual circumstances — your doctor will determine if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Cannabis as a Replacement for Cymbalta
We’ve discovered marijuana addresses a wide variety of conditions, including those that doctors prescribe Cymbalta for. In many cases, it can work better than Cymbalta with fewer and safer drawbacks.
Marijuana can relieve depression symptoms. Research indicates patients who use medical marijuana experience less depression than patients who don’t use it. Contrary to popular belief, cannabis doesn’t increase depression symptoms — instead, the health problems that make patients want to use medical marijuana can also cause depression.
As you may already guess, cannabis helps lessen anxiety, too. One of the major components of marijuana, cannabidiol, has reduced anxiety in clinical trial subjects. Since marijuana can also heighten anxiety, monitor your symptoms closely if you medicate with cannabis.
Medical marijuana has a long, documented history of treating chronic pain. The National Pain Report states that 62% of medical marijuana patients felt that cannabis relieved their pain very effectively. Conversely, only 10% of study participants thought Cymbalta was very effective.
If you worry about “chronic pain” including nerve pain like neuropathy and fibromyalgia, don’t sweat it. Not only does it reduce fibromyalgia pain, but it also addresses depression caused by the disorder. It helps pain related to nerve damage such as neuropathy.
Resources From Marijuana Doctors
Consider this blog post a primer on Cymbalta and marijuana. As always, medical professionals well-versed in cannabis medicine can answer the other questions you have. Start the search for a trained physician or medical dispensary near you.