Based on a survey of 2,000 U.S. adults, 64% of respondents think CBD is safer than alcohol. And in regard to long-term effects, this notion is widely considered to be true.
- It is not recommended to use CBD while drinking any type of alcoholic beverage
- When taken together, they may amplify one another's adverse effects including sleepiness, sedation, and impaired cognitive function
- That being said, CBD is currently being researched for its potential to treat individuals suffering from alcohol use disorder
- CBD may effectively reduce withdrawal and craving symptoms although more studies are needed to support this hypothesis
But what happens when you combine the two substances? Research is limited on the interactions between CBD and alcohol, but plenty of healthcare professionals have weighed in on the subject.
Below, we'll go through everything you need to know about how these substances interact with one another. And we'll even go over some new innovative research that may be promising for those suffering from alcohol use disorder!
See Related: Why Is July National Hemp Month?
What Is CBD's Effect On The Body?
CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant and has been studied for its potential to alleviate anxiety, relieve pain, improve sleep, and more. Unlike THC, CBD contains no psychoactive effects.
That being said, hemp-derived CBD products will range in their CBD-to-THC ratios, so if you're looking for no psychoactive properties whatsoever, you'll want to invest in CBD products that contain pure CBD.
When ingested, CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, a cell-regulating system in charge of maintaining the body's optimal balance.
From gummies to tinctures, and CBD oils to topical rubs, the variety of CBD products out there makes it easy for anyone to enjoy this unique compound. But still, the question remains of whether combining alcohol with CBD is actually beneficial or deterimental to the body or not.
Before we look at what happens when you mix CBD and alcohol, let's break down how alcohol interacts with the human body on its own.
What Is Alcohol's Effect On The Body?
When drinking alcohol, the substance enters directly into your bloodstream, causing more immediate sedating symptoms than CBD oil. Alcohol also affects cognitive function, altering both mood and behavior.
Of course, these effects will vary based on your alcohol intake. But excessive alcohol consumption can ultimately affect your speech, memory, and judgment.
So far, it doesn't seem like CBD oil and alcohol have too much in common. But many are surprised to learn that like CBD oil, alcohol can have an effect on the endocannabinoid system.
In fact, recent animal studies discovered that when mice were given alcohol, their endocannabinoid level was altered, disrupting the normal balance of functions they typically perform.
Furthermore, another study found that chronic alcohol consumption could effectively lower the levels of CB1 receptors in the body. So when it comes to mixing CBD and alcohol, there are definitely some interactions that can pose potential risks.
What Happens When You Mix CBD Oil And Alcohol?
Combining CBD oil and alcohol is actually more common than you might think. In fact, products like CBD-infused beer remain prevalent within both the CBD and alcohol markets.
But consuming alcohol with CBD oil may not produce the effects you truly want. So, let's look at what happens in the body when you mix CBD and alcohol.
#1. CBD And Alcohol May Amplify One Another's Adverse Effects
Alcohol consumption is typically accompanied by reduced inhibitions and general feelings of relaxation. And CBD oil can actually have a similar effect on your body.
But taking CBD oil and alcohol together could amplify these effects, potentially causing you to feel sleepy or overly sedated. Additionally, some users have claimed that taking CBD oil with alcohol can actually result in a change of mood and/or behavior.
One study noted that combining CBD oil with alcoholic beverages caused significant motor impairments in participants while altering their overall perception of time. Interestingly, participants did not experience these symptoms when consuming CBD oil alone.
#2. CBD And Alcohol May Lower Blood Pressure
While any medical professional will advise you of the risks that accompany high blood pressure, low blood pressure is nothing to strive for either.
Both CBD oil and alcohol act as vasodilators. This means that they each relax and open your blood vessels. But when you mix CBD oil with alcohol, this extremely low blood pressure ultimately forces your heart to work harder.
In severe cases, this strain on your heart could cause you to pass out. While there remains limited research on what happens to the body when you combine CBD and alcohol together, these findings alone are enough to urge users to proceed with caution.
#3. Mixing CBD And Alcohol May Pose Potential Risks
With very little research into the interactions between CBD and alcohol, many consider these substances to be harmless when used together. But healthcare professional Eloise Theisen has shared her thoughts on why individuals should refrain from combining CBD with alcohol.
"I strongly advise my patients against consuming alcohol and cannabis together, whether it's CBD or THC, since you can feel a stronger effect from both when using alcohol," says Theisen.
However, she goes on to say, "If someone took CBD in the morning to help with their anxiety and wanted to have a drink or two in the evening, that [combination] hasn't been shown to be problematic."
CBD's Potential Benefits For Alcohol Use Disorder
While the combination of CBD oil and alcohol may not be advised by healthcare professionals, there has been some stunning research into the therapeutic potential CBD may offer those looking to treat alcohol use disorder.
May Prevent Liver Damage and Other Alcohol-Induced Damage
Excessive alcohol use is known to cause damage to cells, namely increasing the risk of developing inflammatory, chronic diseases such as pancreatitis, liver disease, and even certain types of cancer.
But studies have observed the ways in which CBD may actually protect against cell damage caused by alcohol addiction. In one study, rats had CBD gel applied to their skin. This application ended up decreasing brain cell damage due to alcohol abuse by up to 49%.
Of course, more research is needed to learn whether these results would similarly reflect in human studies. But so far, all signs point towards CBD as a potential preventative agent against alcohol-induced cell damage.
May Reduce Blood Alcohol Levels
High blood alcohol concentration (BAC) typically correlates with a greater loss of motor control and brain function. But one study found that when participants took CBD with alcohol, they actually had significantly lower blood alcohol levels in their system.
That being said, some other studies involving animals did not find the same results. Suffice it to say that more research is needed to determine how CBD may affect blood alcohol levels in humans.
May Be Therapeutic For Those Dealing With Alcohol Addiction
Many researchers have been interested in how CBD could be used to treat alcohol addiction. In one animal study centered around alcohol-addicted rats, researchers found that CBD could effectively reduce alcohol intake, prevent relapses, and decrease the motivation to consume alcohol.
Plus, anecdotal evidence from humans found that 24 smokers who used a CBD inhaler for one week actually experienced a reduction in cigarette use by 40%. This has prompted researchers to believe that CBD could curb addictive behaviors, although more high-quality studies are needed to determine that conclusively.
May Reduce Alcohol Cravings
While CBD has not been approved by the FDA as a treatment for any substance use disorder, including alcohol addiction, researchers are continually investigating how CBD may reduce alcohol cravings and its associated symptoms.
Alcohol cravings can cause a variety of other symptoms including, but not limited to:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
- Inability to think clearly
But one rodent study found that CBD could reduce cravings while relaxing the central nervous system from experiencing these other symptoms in severe form. Again, more research is needed to support this hypothesis, but current findings have researchers optimistic about the prospect.
May Reduce Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Perhaps the most extreme withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol detoxing involve tremors, anxiety, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Luckily, CBD products have been shown to relieve some of those symptoms on their own, whether related to alcohol withdrawal or not.
Interestingly, a 2021 study reported that CBD may reduce anxiety and nausea in patients experiencing opioid withdrawal. That being said, CBD was also found to cause its own side effects which is why conversations around alcohol and CBD tend to center on the idea of harm reduction.
All of this is to say that alcohol and CBD continue to be investigated both separately and together. But the hope is that enough human studies may provide evidence sufficient enough to claim that CBD can be an effective treatment for alcohol use disorder.
FAQs About Mixing Alcohol And CBD
How Long After Taking CBD Can You Drink Alcohol?
As we learned earlier from Elise Theisen, you may take a CBD product in the morning and enjoy an alcoholic beverage at night. But as for an exact timeframe, it's been recommended that individuals wait at least four hours after taking a CBD product before they consume alcohol.
This 4-hour window will give your body enough time to flush out any CBD left over in your system. And, in turn, this could reduce the chances of you experiencing any adverse effects from the combination of CBD and alcohol.
Are CBD Oil And Alcohol Safe?
On their own, yes. Although, moderation is key.
The World Health Organization reported that CBD is generally well tolerated by most, noting that there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with CBD products.
That being said, when mixed with alcohol, the two substances can amplify one another's effects.
Can I Take CBD While Drinking?
While there is little research into the interactions between CBD and alcohol, it is typically advised that individuals not mix the two substances. That being said, users can feel free to take CBD after drinking alcohol once the alcoholic effects have left their system.
But for the most part, taking CBD while drinking is not recommended.
Is CBD Addictive?
Despite the fact that THC remains a controlled substance, CBD itself is not addictive. The 2018 Farm Bill made CBD legal so long as the product contained less than 0.3% THC.
With such little THC, there is only a small likelihood that users would experience that typical high.
Can CBD Help To Prevent Hangovers?
While some claim that CBD may be used as an anti-hangover remedy, this notion is largely untrue. Studies may have revealed that CBD could lower blood alcohol levels, but that is not to say that CBD should be used as a preventative resource for dealing with hangovers or their associated symptoms.
Can CBD Provide Hangover Relief?
Some also claim that CBD can "cure" hangovers which, again, is not true. CBD may help combat any anxiety you feel after a night of drinking, but it won't actively relieve you of any hangover symptoms.
It's important also to remember that hangover headaches are namely a consequence of dehydration. So if you're really wanting to experience some relief, it's best to keep yourself hydrated while allowing time for the hangover to pass.
Ultimately, mixing CBD with any type of alcoholic beverage is not recommended. But it still stands that CBD may act as a potential treatment for those with addictive behaviors.
Keep Reading: Why Does The Human Body Have Cannabinoid Receptors?
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