Can You Take CBD and Xanax Together?
This is generally the follow-up question for someone trying to wean off of Xanax.
We have good news on that front!
In fact, we have an entire article on how to use CBD to wean off benzos including Xanax.
There are considerations in the transition from one to another that are very important and we'll look at those below.
Xanax (along with Ativan) is one of the toughest benzos to come off of due to how it's designed.
This speaks to why it's the most prescribed benzo with a street value (and many names) of its own.
We'll explain how CBD and other tools can ease this transition based on real research on the shared pathways involved.
These are the topics we'll cover:
- A quick look at how CBD works versus Xanax
- Does CBD feel like Xanax
- Can you take CBD and Xanax together
- How long after taking Xanax can you take CBD
- Using CBD to wean off Xanax
- What time of CBD to get off of Xanax
Let's jump into it.
A quick look at how CBD works versus Xanax
First, a quick intro to your GABA pathway.
GABA is the brain's "brake" pedal and Xanax directly drives its activity.
With increasing doses, you have the following effects:
- Dead (the overdose factor - generally with opioids or other meds that slow things down)
Benzos are the most prescribed medication for anxiety and secondarily for sleep.
Both are governed (partially) by the GABA function. Check out our whole review on CBD and GABA to learn more.
The key is that Xanax pushes GABA in one direction and very strongly. Straight up!
As a result, the body panics and over time will reduce natural GABA receptor numbers and sensitivity.
This is the basis for tolerance.
At some point, you are not taking Xanax to feel calm but to just not feel horrible.
It happens very quickly and in fact, there's an FDA black box warning with Xanax. It's not intended beyond 2 weeks of use.
On top of this, it spikes dopamine (see CBD and dopamine) which drives actual addiction.
Dopamine is our "do that again" neurotransmitter which drives learning.
Yes, addiction is a form of learning. Just learning something bad which tricks this system.
Why is Xanax so popular and abused?
In our CBD versus benzos, we walk through the various benzos and Xanax has a distinct function almost designed to be abused:
- Xanax comes on much faster and harder than the other benzos
- Xanax lasts a shorter time
- Xanax drops off hard
This makes it feel really strong and effective, for a short time, and then...gone!
Again, we go through the stats versus the other benzos but this is why Xanax has a street value and Prozac doesn't.
This makes the tolerance and addiction effect very powerful as well.
It feels awful coming off the backend!
What about CBD?
CBD works as a feedback mechanism on GABA (and its cousin glycine).
Technically, it's called an allosteric positive modulator.
Basically, it will support GABA function when low but not high.
You can see this method of operation in its side effect profile.
- CBD does not build tolerance (its biggest strength)
- CBD does not spike dopamine (in fact, it can help with addiction - see CBD and addiction)
- CBD promotes sleep but isn't sedative (see Can you take CBD in the middle of the day)
- CBD reduces anxiety but doesn't affect motor skills, cognitive function (see CBD and public speaking as a great example)
Basically, it's a safety net under GABA function when it's exhausted by stress, histamine, glutamate (the gas pedal), and pain.
Yes, pain...both physical and psychological will exhaust GABA.
We'll leave the detailed research on how CBD works to all the reviews listed above but on to aligned questions.
Does CBD feel like Xanax?
Up to a point.
If you're in a state of anxiety, research shows that CBD can calm that state.
There's clear research on CBD and sleep promotion as well.
The difference is that you don't get the "high" from the dopamine kick and you also don't get the rebound when it drops off.
That's the tolerance effect.
We've looked at the safety of CBD long-term here.
Again, it doesn't have the sedative, groggy feel that Xanax has. The reason that Xanax is a street drug though is more due to the dopamine spike.
The basis for this reward system spiking:
Here we show that benzodiazepines increase the firing of dopamine neurons of the ventral tegmental area through the positive modulation of GABAA receptors in nearby interneurons.
This is the pathway tied to ALL addictions from opioids to cocaine to alcohol.
CBD has actually been shown to balance dopamine in situations where it's very out of balance (see CBD and schizophrenia).
So...CBD will not hit with the hammer that Xanax does but it also doesn't drop you on the back end.
What about the transition period for people looking to get off of Xanax?
Can you take CBD and Xanax together?
Many people are trying to get off of Xanax and want to know how to use CBD to do this.
When we weaned off of Xanax (prescribed due to brutal perimenopause - that story is here), we used a pill cutter to slowly slice off larger and larger sections over a 30-day window.
If you've used a benzo like Xanax for a long time, it's very important not to drop cold turkey.
Dropping Xanax cold turkey after longer-term use can cause not only brutal withdrawals but even seizures.
Our GABA function now is totally suppressed and glutamate (the opposite gas pedal) is ramped up.
Again, this is the process of tolerance.
It's also the setting for seizures!
At best, extreme agitation and irritability.
Research shows that it can take about 30 days for the DNA to be turned back on that makes the 5 proteins of our GABA receptor following Xanax abstinence.
The slow process of weaning Xanax while substituting CBD to ease this transition is very important.
We'll look at how much CBD and the schedule below, but first, daily timing.
How long after taking Xanax can you take CBD?
Here's the important piece.
Both CBD and Xanax use the same pathway in the liver for metabolism.
For this reason, we want to take them at least 4 hours apart from each other.
- Peak CBD is about 4-6 hours after taking it.
- Peak Xanax is around 1-2 hours after taking it (see how fast that hits??)
So...we don't want the peaks to intersect.
Otherwise, if the liver is busy metabolizing CBD, Xanax may stay in the system for a longer period of time since it's unable to break down.
You can hold CBD under your tongue for up to 60 seconds to speed and boost the availability of CBD in the system.
Doses can be broken into smaller amounts during the day but take at least 4 hours away from Xanax.
Let's walk through our schedule based on research for weaning off of Xanax.
Using CBD to wean off Xanax
It's really broken into 2-time frames:
- First 10 days - heavy withdrawal
- Day 11-30 - neurogenesis and GABA function repair/reboot
- Day 31 on - general GABA and stress support
For the first 10 days when withdrawals are the highest, studies on opioid withdrawal point to 600 mg daily of CBD isolate.
This can be broken up into multiple doses as needed. Our 6000 mg bottle is 200mg per dropper which fits this schedule and the 4-6 hour peak levels. Before bed is key for sleep.
Once the initial heavy withdrawal period stabilizes, research points to 300 mg daily as the peak level for neurogenesis.
Neurogenesis is the process of rewiring and repairing the brain.
Remember that addiction to Xanax is learned (with repeated dopamine reinforcement) which means these pathways are now ingrained in the brain.
That's why addiction is so difficult.
New pathways have to be wired in and old ones left to wither and even be re-wired.
That's neurogenesis! See CBD and brain repair for addiction to learn more.
300 mg of CBD isolate is the sweet spot according to research for this process.
Mindful meditation, yoga, exercise all boost neurogenesis as well. Psilocybin has interesting research on this process and addiction as well.
This 300 mg for the day 11+ should help with the GABA receptor up-regulation as Xanax drops off.
Many people report hitting a wall at the very end when they're trying to stop the final piece.
The 600 mg can be used as needed at these roadblocks.
Again, take at least 4 hours away from Xanax, especially at the beginning of the process.
One note for women. Progesterone directly drives GABA function (see CBD and progesterone) and estrogen supports serotonin so hormones are a critical piece of this.
In fact, the first line of advice from doctors for women entering perimenopause (mid to late '40s) is benzos like Xanax! Followed by SSRIs like Lexapro (see CBD versus SSRIs).
That's how we got on the brutal Xanax train!
Hormones have to be addressed to get to the root of why you were prescribed Xanax, to begin with.
Also, look at the following:
- NAC - 1800-2000 mg daily during the transition - powerful effects on addiction and withdrawal; acts like a sink for excess glutamate
- Magnesium glycinate - keep glutamate at bay during the transition - great for sleep and calm
- Vitamin D - get your levels checked, D manages brain excitability (GABA/Glutamate balance)
These are safe and effective ways to address the key pathways tied to anxiety and sleep as well as addiction!
What type of CBD to get off Xanax
There are basic requirements for the CBD:
- From organically grown CBD in the US at FDA registered farms
- CO2 processed
- 3rd party tested
- Zero THC - THC builds tolerance as well and makes other drugs more pleasing
- No pesticides
- No heavy metals
- No solvents
- No bacteria
- No mold
Our third-party tested is available at the top of any page.
Then, there's the question of CBD isolate versus full spectrum.
All the research is on CBD isolate (CBD by itself) but there's a bigger issue.
40-60% of the population has histamine issues and this number goes up as we get older and for women.
It's the main reason people have side effects with CBD full spectrum which go away with CBD isolate.
Histamine actually eats up GABA in the brain (they govern the sleep/wake cycle) so we don't need more of it from the plant material in full-spectrum CBD.
Then there's the cost aspect.
The key is the cost per mg of CBD. We price our 6000 mg bottles at 2-3 cents per mg (lowest on the market) before discounts up to 50%.
Use our code first50 for a 50% discount on the first order.
We do this because we've been there.
Doctors threw our founder on Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin in succession with Lexapro to follow.
It almost killed her (that story is here).
If we can help people navigate getting out of this nightmare, then it's all worth it.
Be well. Take care of each other. Take care of yourself.
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.