Prednisone is a type of corticosteroid used to treat a variety of conditions, including certain types of cancers, allergies, severe asthma, and other autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. Like all corticosteroids, prednisone mimics cortisol, a hormone naturally produced in the adrenal glands, which works to suppress the body’s immune response in order to reduce inflammation.

Many patients find that using medical marijuana alongside prednisone can be highly therapeutic. Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler is here to answer your questions about the steroid prednisone and how it may conflict with cannabis use in patients. Below, the InhaleMD team will discuss surrounding prednisone and cannabis, as well as some risks associated with the extended use of prednisone and other corticosteroids.

Are There Risks Associated With Prednisone?

It’s important to understand that steroids play a vital role in our body regulation, and for many with illnesses like those mentioned above, steroids are a life or death medication. (Steroids, or more properly corticosteroids, are not the same as anabolic steroids that should be avoided). However, steroids come with significant risks and are never used carelessly.

Those who take corticosteroids may experience an array of physical and mental side effects, including weight gain, insomnia, anxiety and mood swings. Extended use of corticosteroids may also result in osteoporosis, also known as bone loss. The risk for developing osteoporosis in those who take corticosteroids is higher for those who alos have a poor diet, don’t exercise, or smoke.

Corticosteroids like prednisone turn down the immune system, and those who take prednisone are more susceptible to certain types of infections. Brief courses of Prednisone usually cause few problems, but extended courses or regular use can be more of an issue.

Long-term users of prednisone may need to avoid being around others who are known to be sick, and avoid entering crowded areas or sharing drinks or food with others.

Additionally, those who take certain medications, like warfarin or furosemide, should confirm with their doctor that it is safe to take these medications alongside prednisone. If you are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding, you should also talk to your doctor immediately, as prednisone has been associated with low birth weight and birth defects. It is important to take prednisone exactly as directed by your doctor ​—​ abruptly stopping corticosteroids can be dangerous and even result in adrenal failure or even death.

Can Medical Marijuana Be Used with Prednisone?

There is currently no known interaction between prednisone and cannabis, and patients are often prescribed medical marijuana to treat illnesses that is to be used with their normal dose of prednisone.

Since smoking can contribute to the loss of bone density, especially in those who use corticosteroids like prednisone, patients who need inhalation therapy are encouraged to avoid smoke altogether by using an approved cannabis flower vaporizer.

Cannabis and prednisone can absolutely be used effectively together, although it is important that patients choose safe methods of cannabis consumption and have proper medical guidance throughout their treatment.

Can You Use Medical Cannabis Instead of Prednisone to Treat Pain?

There is a lot of talk presently about cannabis and specific cannabinoids, like CBD, CBG, and THC-A, as “anti-inflammatory”. Does this mean you could use one or more of them as a “safer” replacement for Prednisone? In short, no. Corticosteroids, like Prednisone, are very powerful agents and are very effective. They have been used for nearly a century and are well understood, both scientifically and in patients. It is true that some cannabinoids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, but only in cell culture (test-tubes) or mice. So far this effect appears to be pretty weak, and it’s not clear how useful they would really be in humans. Dr. Jordan Tishler has had very good clinical success using THC-A as an anti-inflammatory and immune treatment in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, but always as an adjunct to their conventional treatment, never instead.

For Exceptional Care, Contact a Massachusetts-Based Medical Cannabis Specialist

If you are considering using cannabis alongside conventional medicines like prednisone, you should consult with a physician who has experience helping patients utilize the health benefits of medical marijuana. As a trained medical cannabis specialist in Boston, Dr. Jordan Tishler has spent years assisting patients with all types of conditions safely and effectively use cannabis as medicine. Not only will Dr. Tishler and the Inhale MD team determine if you may benefit from medical marijuana, but we will also help you understand how to use cannabis in a way that appropriately suits your needs. For more information, or to set up a consultation with the team at InhaleMD, call us at (617) 861-8519 today.