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What You Should Know About Cannabis and Surgery

What You Should Know About Cannabis and Surgery

Posted by C.Owens Kanavia on Aug 19, 2021

A group of surgeons wearing green surgical caps, gloves, and gowns.

Surgery can be a big ordeal — no matter how small or how large. For many people, cannabidiol or CBD might appear to be a helpful aid for the discomfort, anxiety, and inflammation that they experience with surgery. However, as medical professionals, we often need to remind people that CBD interacts with other drugs and needs to be used and monitored appropriately. Here’s what you need to know before combining cannabis and surgery.

1. CBD May Thin the Blood

One of the risks in any surgery is the risk of hemorrhage and the wound not clotting as it should. To prevent this situation, it’s extremely important to talk with your doctor about cannabis and surgery ahead of time.

Prescription blood thinners (or “anticoagulants”) like Aspirin and Warfarin are two medications that are used as blood thinners. However, there are several natural substances that also have anticoagulant effects:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Cinnamon
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Vitamin E
  • Cannabis

Because substances like cannabis have anticoagulant properties, anesthesiologist Dr. Olson recommends avoiding it for 48 hours before surgery. Dr. Olson, however, also comments that you can take medications again as soon as you’re released from the hospital.

2. CBD May Affect Your Dose of Anesthesia

While CBD oil and surgery haven’t been formally studied, previous work on cannabis and surgery shows that this plant can change your tolerance to anesthetics. In general, this work relates to THC and whole cannabis. However, we can’t rule out the possibility that CBD could affect your tolerance to anesthesia as well.

According to an article from Harvard Health, people who use cannabis on a daily to weekly basis typically need three times as much propofol to be adequately sedated for an endoscopy. If you don’t tell your doctor about your use of CBD oil, you could be administered less anesthesia than you actually need and experience wakefulness and/or pain during the procedure.

3. CBD Could Offer Postoperative Benefits

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news for cannabis and surgery. In fact, after the procedure is over, CBD could do a world of good! Proponents of CBD oil and surgery suggest using cannabidiol during recovery for any of the following reasons:

  • To reduce inflammation
  • To soothe discomfort
  • To promote a sense of calm
  • To promote quality sleep

After surgery, some people might even plan to use CBD in place of traditional opioid painkillers or at least reduce their opioid dose. If this is you, we urge you to discuss your plan with your healthcare practitioner and/or surgeon to see whether they would be willing to monitor your dosage. They can also tell you about any drug-drug interactions that might affect your plan.

Kanavia’s Recommendations for Cannabis and Surgery

As a team of healthcare professionals, we take medical decisions very seriously and always want the best for your health. If you may be undergoing surgery in the near future, these are our sincere recommendations about mixing cannabis and surgery:

  • If you use CBD, be sure to use a THC-free product to reduce the risk of building up a tolerance to anesthetic medications.
  • Mention your current CBD use to your doctor before surgery, including the dosage you take and frequency of use.
  • Cease using CBD at least 48 hours before the operation.
  • Discuss CBD and pain-relief options with your doctor to plan for a safe and effective recovery.

If you would like to discuss CBD oil and surgery further, we invite you to consult with a Kanavia healthcare provider. We will keep all of your personal details confidential and only recommend a product if medically advised.