If you’ve been to a bar recently, you may have noticed that CBD has become a staple on cocktail menus. Breweries have also started adding CBD to their beer, claiming it enhances relaxation or negates some of alcohol’s negative effects.
What really happens when you mix CBD and alcohol? And is it safe?
Unfortunately, research is very limited. We know some of their effects, but we’re far from understanding all of the ways they interact together in the body.
The little we do know is complicated by the fact that everyone processes CBD a little differently, so the effect it has on alcohol consumption is not predictable.
However, there have been no instances of serious adverse effects from mixing the two (apart from the well-known risks of excessive alcohol consumption). And, some studies claim that taking CBD with alcohol may be beneficial.
In this article, we’ll explain the benefits and risks of taking alcohol and CBD together. We’ll also look at CBD as a potential hangover cure.
Table of Contents
- How do CBD and Alcohol Interact in the Body?
- The Benefits of CBD Oil and Alcohol
- The Risks of CBD and Alcohol
- Does CBD Help with Hangovers
- Is it Safe to Mix Alcohol and CBD?
How do CBD and Alcohol Interact in the Body?
Taking CBD oil and alcohol together initiates hundreds of chemical reactions in the body. Due to limited research, we know very little about these reactions, and when it comes to CBD, many are still a mystery.
Here’s what we know so far.
Alcohol inhibits your central nervous system, making you less sensitive to pain and other unpleasant sensations, but this also leads to poor motor skills.
Alcohol increases the happiness hormone dopamine, and it is a GABA agonist. When binding with GABA receptors, your stress levels plummet and your confidence rises.
As the body processes alcohol, it can significantly damage the liver, kidneys, and brain. Uncomfortable side effects are felt the day after excessive drinking in the form of a hangover.
CBD affects the body in some of the same ways as alcohol.
For example, CBD also binds with GABA receptors, causing a sedated, relaxed sensation. CBD boosts levels of hormones like dopamine and serotonin, both mood boosters. This has led some to believe that CBD and alcohol may amplify each other’s effects.
However, CBD may also negate some of the negative effects of alcohol. It could protect your cells from the stress caused by alcohol processing and prevent inflammation caused by excess alcohol consumption.
CBD is not known to have any serious side effects or cause damage to the body. It does not lead to dependency, even when taken in large doses.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits and risks of mixing alcohol and CBD.
The Benefits of CBD Oil and Alcohol
- CBD may prevent brain cell damage by alcohol: Animal studies have found that taking CBD before drinking caused a 49% reduction in brain cell damage.
- CBD may protect the liver and prevent fatty liver disease: Research on mice concluded that CBD may protect against fatty liver disease by increasing autophagy (the liver’s ability to create new tissue).
- CBD may reduce blood alcohol content (BAC): A small study of 10 people found that those who took 200mg of CBD before drinking had a significantly lower BAC compared to the control.
- CBD may reduce alcohol-related inflammation in the liver: CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may protect the liver from alcohol-induced inflammation. This may protect against liver disease.
- CBD may help ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms: Studies have suggested that CBD may reduce alcohol-seeking behaviors and withdrawal symptoms such as convulsions in alcohol-dependent humans and animals.
The Risks of CBD and Alcohol
- CBD and alcohol may cause extreme fatigue and drowsiness: Some claim to feel extremely drowsy after mixing CBD and alcohol, which may be caused by high GABA modulation along with increased serotonin and dopamine levels.
- CBD and alcohol may cause dangerous levels of intoxication: If CBD amplifies the effects of alcohol, it could cause higher-than-anticipated intoxication levels, especially for those who are not regular users of either substance.
- Mixing CBD and alcohol is unpredictable: There are at least seven mutations of the CB2 receptor (CBD binds to this receptor in the endocannabinoid system), which means people may experience the combination of CBD and alcohol in very different ways.
- Mixing CBD and alcohol is not well understood: Due to the lack of research on mixing CBD and alcohol, it is inherently risky to take them together.
Does CBD Help with Hangovers?
There is no evidence that CBD can “cure” or prevent a hangover. But there is evidence that CBD can reduce the negative symptoms of a hangover.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may help to relieve discomfort from headaches and muscle aches caused by alcohol.
CBD has been found to effectively reduce nausea and vomiting, which could prevent stomach aches the morning after.
Alcohol’s effects on GABA can cause an excess of glutamate in the brain the next day. This imbalance can cause anxiety, nervousness, and jitters. CBD can boost levels of GABA back to normal, decreasing anxiety and moodiness.
Is it Safe to Mix Alcohol and CBD?
At the moment, it’s not possible to say whether CBD and alcohol are safe to mix. There isn’t enough reliable research to draw a conclusion.
There have been no serious complications or side effects reported from mixing CBD and alcohol. We theorize that it is likely safe to take them together if both are consumed in low doses because of this anecdotal evidence.
However, in this case, it may not be worth taking them together. In the above studies, many of the benefits of taking CBD with alcohol were only apparent when CBD was administered in high doses.
Low doses of CBD may not do anything but increase the price of your drink.
Due to a lack of research, we cannot recommend mixing high doses of either substance.
Though, if you drink a bit too much, we recommend taking CBD the morning after to help with hangover symptoms such as headache, nausea, and anxiety.