Cymbalta and Medical Marijuana
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 05/17/2019 in Medical Marijuana
Updated on January 21, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Cymbalta is a drug used for several purposes, including anxiety, depression, and chronic pain—conditions that also appear on many state lists of approved uses for medical marijuana. Patients who have been prescribed Cymbalta may have questions that need to be answered, such as whether the drug can be taken alongside medical marijuana and whether medical cannabis can serve as a replacement for Cymbalta. This article will answer those questions.
Overview of 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—and Shouldn’t Use—Cymbalta?
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 that Cymbalta isn’t suited for every population. People who have certain health conditions, including diabetes, problems with urination, high blood pressure and liver disease, shouldn’t use it. And research hasn’t definitively concluded whether it can be safely taken by children, the elderly, pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding.
Drug Interactions With Medical Marijuana
While marijuana and Cymbalta can be used for similar purposes, you should use caution if you take them together. Some of their side effects are also similar, which means they could be magnified if the two substances are taken together.
The problems that can occur 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. Motor side effects include impaired coordination and dizziness. These side effects can become even worse when you use alcohol.
Drugs.com classifies the interaction between Cymbalta and marijuana as moderate. According to the site’s guide, doctors should recommend the combination only in special circumstances. If you and your doctor decide that the benefits outweigh the risks and you try taking both together, closely monitor your symptoms and stay in touch with your physician.
Cannabis as a Replacement for Cymbalta
Marijuana has been shown to provide relief from a wide variety of conditions, including those for which doctors prescribe Cymbalta.
Marijuana may relieve depression symptoms, for example. Research has shown that patients who use medical marijuana experience less depression than patients who don’t use it.
Cannabis can ease anxiety as well. One of the major components of marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), was found to reduce anxiety in clinical trial subjects. Since marijuana can also heighten anxiety, monitor your symptoms closely if you medicate with cannabis.
Chronic pain is one of the most common uses of medical marijuana. According to the National Pain Report, 62% of medical marijuana patients said that cannabis relieved their pain very effectively. Meanwhile, 10% of study participants thought Cymbalta was very effective.
Drugs.com classifies the interaction between Cymbalta and marijuana as moderate. According to the site’s guide, doctors should only recommend the combination in special circumstances.
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.