Is Your Yeast Infection Treatment Getting You High?

Most women will experience a yeast infection at least once in their life. Almost half of women will experience it two or more times. Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida, causing such symptoms as itchiness and burning. If you’ve ever experienced a yeast infection, you’re likely familiar with the many over the counter and prescription products used to combat it. But if you’re also taking cannabis as part of your medical regimen, be aware that Fluconazole, a common type of antifungal medication typically used for treating yeast infections, can adversely affect the efficacy of the treatment.

We talked to Dr. Vahid Salimpour of the Apollo Cannabis Clinic to better understand this potential drug interaction with cannabis as well as to learn of other possible interactions.

How Does Fluconazole Interact with Cannabis?

Fluconazole is an antifungal medication commonly used to treat yeast infections. Also known by its brand name, Diflucan, Fluconazole is a potent inhibitor of the liver’s cytochrome P450 system. The CYP450 enzymes are responsible for the metabolism of many of the chemicals and drugs that enter our bodies. “Cytochrome P450 enzymes metabolize drugs to detoxify them and facilitate their excretion,” says Dr. Salimpour. This means that as an inhibitor, Fluconazole will slow down this metabolic process, leaving any other substances or drugs taken at the same time in the system longer.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive component of cannabis, is metabolized by the CYP450 system. “Using THC and Fluconazole at the same time, or any medication on that metabolic pathway for that matter, can cause higher levels of those compounds in the blood,” says Dr. Salimpour. “Put another way, the effects and the possible side effects of both the THC and the Fluconazole may be exacerbated.”

Which Other Medications Exacerbate Cannabis’s Effects?

While the data are limited regarding drug interactions associated with cannabis use, at least one study has shown that patients who were poor metabolizers of the enzyme CYP2C9, meaning that enzyme did not function properly in their bodies, had THC concentrations of three times the normal amount in their systems compared to those with normal CYP2C9 functioning. In addition, researchers have been able to predict how such interactions would work out based on current knowledge of the body’s cytochrome system.

Ketoconazole, another medication used to treat fungal infections, is known to inhibit the CYP3A4 enzyme. Commonly known as Nizoral or Xolegel, this drug has been reported to increase the peak concentration of THC. Clarithromycin, an antibiotic used to treat a variety of bacterial infections, also inhibits the CYP3A4 enzyme. The immunosuppressant drug Cyclosporine, known by such brand names as Neoral and Sandimmune, would likely also produce similar results.

Talk to Your Health Care Provider

Before you seek out a prescription for medical cannabis, it’s important to talk to your health care provider about any medications you may currently be taking. “When a physician is prescribing any sort of drug, including medical cannabis, they will need to understand the interactions between the medications to ensure safe and effective treatment and management of the patient’s conditions,” says Dr. Salimpour.

Understanding how your current medications might interact with cannabis is an important step in a successful medical cannabis treatment plan. However, the overwhelming majority of doctors in Canada are uncomfortable prescribing marijuana, and not necessarily up on the latest medical marijuana research. If that’s the case with your doctor, visit a cannabis clinic or cannabis-aware doctor to ensure you’re covered. Learn more about getting a legal prescription in Canada here.