Good To Know

Coffee and Cannabis Interaction


According to a new study, your morning coffee causes a drop in the levels of certain substances that are linked to the body’s system for responding to marijuana.

The levels of these substances — metabolites found in what’s known as the endocannabinoid system — decrease in people who drink between four and eight cups of a day, according to the study, published today (March 15) in the Journal of Internal Medicine. Endocannabinoids are molecules that bind to cannabinoid receptors, which are found all over the nervous system, as well as in immune and endocrine tissue. The body makes its own endocannabinoids, but it also responds to foreign cannabinoids, like the ones found in the leaves of plants of the Cannabis genus.

Excerpt from original article By Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor

Coffee suppresses the endocannabinoid chemicals that smoking marijuana boosts, said Marilyn Cornelis, an assistant professor of preventative medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, who led the new research.

That would suggest that coffee might generate the opposite effects as cannabis on the endocannabinoid system, Cornelis told Live Science.

The research didn’t look at the sensations or behaviors that coffee produces compared to cannabis, only at the rise and fall of chemicals in the blood after  consumption. Endocannabinoids were just one set of the chemicals — or metabolites — that changed, the researchers found. All told, coffee altered 115 different metabolites in the blood. Thirty-four of those metabolites don’t even have names or known roles in the body. The other 82 known metabolites play roles in 33 different biological processes.

Cornelis and her team focused on five of these specific biological processes where numerous metabolites seemed to cluster. Two of the processes were expected: One was xanthine metabolism — a set of processes that includes caffeine metabolism, which made sense, because the body naturally has to metabolize the caffeine in coffee once it is consumed. The other pathway, benzoate metabolism, in involved in breaking down other compounds in coffee called polyphenols. The compounds are broken down by microbes that live in the gut, Cornelis said. The gut microbiome is under increased scrutiny for its role in health, so the finding is intriguing, she said.

But the real surprises were three other metabolic processes never before linked with coffee. Endocannabinoids were clustered in one of those processes.

“What we’re seeing here is that the systems that are impacted by coffee and cannabis overlap,” Cornelis said. That could mean that drinking coffee with marijuana in your system could create interacting effects, she said, though the nature of those interactions isn’t yet clear. Typically, she said, the same endocannabinoids that declined with coffee also decrease when the body is under stress.

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