Everything You Need to Know About CBD and Alcohol
As far as health fads go, there has been nothing quite like cannabidiol. This thing that looks to be a miracle substance has had such a meteoric rise in the health and wellness world by virtue of two things—its purported benefits and its source.
Because of that, we now have every kind of CBD product under the sun, from oil and creams, lip balms and bath soaks, to protein bars and vapes, and more. With this growing ubiquity of CBD in retail, it will become more integrated into people’s lives.
That leads to the other substance that has been long integral to people’s lives, which is alcohol. There are manufacturers now who have gone as far as make liquors, beers, and other alcoholic beverages with added CBD. It seems to make sense to put two social lubricants together.
But there are concerns about the safety of taking CBD and alcohol together. Let’s take a look into their interaction and how it can affect your body.
Can you mix CBD oil and alcohol?
CBD can help promote relaxation and relieve stress. Alcohol can help you unwind, especially when you’re drinking with friends. Therefore, it seems natural to bring them together in one concoction, right? You may want to hold your horses there and ask the important question of whether you can mix the two in the first place.
First of all, let’s look at each of these substances separately. After that, we’ll then look at how they interact.
Alcohol, or ethanol, is mostly created from anaerobic fermentation of sugars by yeasts. It’s a sedative and a depressant that interacts with the central nervous system. In higher doses, it can affect mood, impair coordination, and slur speech.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has a much more subtle effect. It gets processed by the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a vast regulatory network throughout the body that cannabinoids can interact with. CBD can also interact with lots of other molecular targets outside the ECS.
CBD can calm the nerves, relieve anxiety, decrease stress, and enhance mood. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, making it great for pain management and recovery.
When you first look at that, you may think that CBD can balance out the effects of alcohol. Maybe you can have it as a chaser or hangover cure. However, the truth is that science still has to look into how CBD and alcohol interact and affect the body. But there are hypotheses.
They may amplify each other’s effects
We know alcohol can reduce one’s inhibitions and promote feelings of relaxation in moderate doses. After all, a lot of people take nightcaps to help them go to sleep.
CBD has similar effects as well, but has a more subtle impact compared to alcohol. For instance, there’s research showing that 25-75mg of CBD every day for a month has definite results in reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality.
With that said, taking alcohol and CBD together may actually amplify these effects, which may result in way more sleepiness and sedation than desired. There’s anecdotal evidence from users that suggest how mixing CBD and alcohol can yield these amplified effects, to the point that changes in mood and behavior can be observed.
There’s a small study conducted by giving participants 200mg of CBD and 1g of alcohol for every kilogram of body weight. It was observed that the combination caused significant impairment of motor skills and alterations in the perception of time. When they took CBD alone, they didn’t experience such effects.
However, it must be said that these studies made use of doses that were much higher than what most people tend to consume. Therefore, the jury is still out when it comes to how taking CBD with alcohol can affect one’s health in the long term. More research still needs to be done.
CBD can protect against side effects of alcohol
While there’s still not much known about the effects of using CBD with alcohol, there’s some research that shows CBD having protective properties against some of the negative side effects of alcohol.
Protection against cell damage
For instance, CBD may prevent cell damage and disease caused by alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption can damage cells, increase inflammation, and cause diseases such as pancreatitis, liver disease, and some types of cancer.
There are several animal studies that yielded results showing CBD’s ability to protect against alcohol-induced cell damage. There’s one conducted on rats that showed topical CBD gel application actually helped decrease alcohol-induced brain cell damage by as much as 49%.
Another study observed CBD injected in mice yielded better tissue regeneration in the liver, thus protecting against alcohol-induced fatty liver disease.
However, there’s another study that showed how CBD-rich cannabis extracts caused increased liver toxicity in mice, although they were actually force-fed with extremely large amounts.
More human studies are still needed to be done in order to know for sure the effects of CBD on the liver and whether it can help prevent alcohol-induced cell damage.
May reduce blood alcohol levels
There’s a small study conducted on 10 people who took 200mg of CBD with alcohol. They showed significantly lower blood alcohol levels compared to those in a control group who consumed alcohol with a placebo.
Mind you, it was conducted in the 1970s and used a dose of CBD that’s 5-10 times higher than what’s recommended. Other studies have conflicting findings, some reporting no reduction in blood alcohol concentration while others showed minor reductions.
May curb alcohol addiction
Some animal studies yielded results of CBD helping reduce several symptoms of alcohol addiction and withdrawal. There’s one recent study conducted on rats that saw how CBD helps reduce alcohol intake and prevent relapse.
A related study conducted on 24 smokers saw the use of CBD inhalers for one week reducing cigarette use by up to 40%. This suggests that CBD doesn’t only reduce alcohol addiction, but also addiction in general.
In short, taking CBD and alcohol together may significantly amplify each other’s effects. If both are taken together in high doses, you can expect heightened sedative effects that may result in a lot of sleepiness, loss of motor control, and inability to speak properly.
But from what we can gather so far, perhaps we can at least take CBD a few hours after consuming alcohol to reduce the lingering effects. It may help with protecting your organs from alcohol-induced cell damage, better manage blood alcohol levels, and even help you wean off alcohol more easily if you happen to have a drinking problem.