Cannabis has been making big news for its health benefits over the last few years. From its ability to lower blood pressure and defeat antibiotic-resistant bacteria to its powerful pain relief and cancer-blocking compounds — the once vilified plant has become almost mainstream.
However, despite all the medicinal interest in cannabis, there may be a catch… or two or three…
So before you give cannabis a whirl, be sure to keep these important issues in mind.
#1 – Fertility problems for men
Research from a team of scientists at Washington State University has found that cannabis may impact both sperm count and motility for not only men who use it, but also their sons.
In research involving adult male mice, the researchers found that short-term exposure to cannabis vapor three times a day at an amount that mimicked the intake of regular users lowered sperm counts and slowed sperm movement in two generations.
And cannabis-exposed male offspring also showed evidence of DNA damage and disruption related to sperm cell development.
In other words, using cannabis could damage your fertility and that of your children.
“This is a warning flag. You may take cannabis for some kind of momentary stress, but it could affect your offspring,” said Hayashi, researcher and associate professor in WSU’s School of Molecular Biosciences.
#2 – Drug interactions
If those fertility concerns weren’t enough, hold onto your hat because more research out of Washington State University has demonstrated the dangers of the plant if you take other prescription drugs.
The researchers looked at cannabinoids — a group of substances found in the cannabis plant — and their major metabolites found in cannabis users’ blood. And they discovered that both the cannabinoids themselves and those metabolites interfere with two families of enzymes that help metabolize a wide range of drugs prescribed for a variety of conditions.
Because of this, using cannabis while taking prescription medication could result in a decrease in the desired effect. In other words, your medication may not work as intended, and depending on the situation, that could be a serious problem.
Or even worse, the researchers say that cannabis might increase the negative effects of some drugs, resulting in too much building up in the body, causing unintended side effects such as toxicity or accidental overdose.
For example, the researchers point to anti-cancer drugs with the worry that cannabis could increase their toxic effects. And they specifically call out prescriptions for patients with kidney disease.
“If you have a kidney disease or you are taking one or more drugs that are metabolized primarily through the kidney and you’re also smoking marijuana, you could be inhibiting normal kidney function, and it may have long-term effects for you,” said Philip Lazarus, senior study author.
For more specifics, check out 5 things to know about drug interactions with cannabinoids
#3 – Dangerous heavy metals
Finally, researchers out of Penn State discovered that cannabis plants have an inherent ability to absorb heavy metals from the soil. These toxic metals can make the cannabis and products derived from it, including hemp products and CBD oil, risky.
“Heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium, are known to be carcinogenic,” said Louis Bengyella, assistant research professor of plant science, Penn State. “The heavy-metal content of cannabis is not regulated; therefore, consumers could unknowingly be exposed to these toxic metals.”
Research has found a connection between heavy metals and heart problems.
Safe support for your body’s endocannabinoid system
So while the cannabinoids found in cannabis may offer a number of benefits, you must also weigh the risks before making your decision.
If you’re not on prescription medications, have no desire to procreate and keep your cannabis use to a minimum to avoid heavy metals (which I hate to say are a concern from other sources), cannabis may be ok for you.
But, if you don’t want to risk the possible downsides, there are other options…
As my colleague, Joyce Hollman, points out, cannabimimetics, “superfoods” and other natural substances are capable of mimicking the activity of cannabinoids and can nourish and support your body’s endocannabinoid system to grab more benefits with fewer risks.
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Cannabis use could cause harmful drug interactions – ScienceDaily