How Do CBD and Alcohol Interact?
Posted on August 17 2021
As the world takes notice of the many potential benefits of cannabinoid (CBD), it seems as though it is being added to everything—oils, gummies, creams, lotions; you name it. You can also find a plethora of recipes online for CBD infused cocktails. Alcohol manufacturers have even jumped into the game, providing consumers with CBD infused beer, shots, and other beverages. You’ll even hear anecdotal evidence touting CBD oil as a cure-all for hangovers. But, before you decide to combine CBD and your favorite alcoholic drink, it’s important to understand how the two interact.
5 Interactions That Can Happen When Mixing CBD and Alcohol
- Sedative Effects Intensified
- Lowered Inhibitions
- Impaired Motor Functions
- Mood Alterations
- Decreased CBD Efficiency
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a powerful chemical compound found within the cannabis sativa plant. CBD oil can be extracted from the cannabis plant and then mixed with a carrier oil, such as palm oil, hempseed oil, olive oil or coconut oil. And unlike its close cousin THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD does not produce psychoactive effects—meaning when you use a CBD product, you won’t get the feeling of being high that’s typically associated with the marijuana plant. Since changes to federal law in 2018, making industrial hemp plant production legal across the United States, CBD oil has gained attention for its many health benefits.
Currently, there isn’t much research into the effects of using alcohol and cannabis together. Additionally, most of the available research explores the effects of drinking high amounts of alcohol with CBD, rather than those associated with the more commonly seen moderate or occasional alcohol consumption with CBD. And when you combine this lack of research with the fact that CBD’s effects are highly personalized, most experts agree that using CBD and drinking alcohol together isn’t the greatest idea, at least until we know more about how they affect each other.
Though some early research with animal subjects point to the fact that CBD oil might help mitigate some of alcohol’s negative effects, until more is known about how to safely use the two together, we recommend steering clear of consuming cannabis and alcohol together.
5 Interactions That Can Happen When Mixing CBD and Alcohol
Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways alcohol and CBD can potentially interact when taken together.
1. Sedative Effects Intensified
Alcohol is widely known for the feelings of relaxation and calm it encourages, and CBD has been shown to produce a similar effect, with a documented ability to calm stress and relax mood. When the two are taken together, the sedative effect is greatly intensified, which can lead to feelings of grogginess and sedation. Heightened sedative effects also can slow response times, which leads to increased danger when operating any kind of motor vehicle. Some patients also report that they experience dramatic shifts in mood and behavior when mixing alcohol and CBD.
But what does the research say? Unfortunately not much. In one small, documented study, researchers explored the effects of giving participants 200 milligrams of CBD alongside one gram of alcohol for every one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.
Results showed that combining the alcohol with CBD caused dramatic impairments in motor performance and substantial alterations in the perception of time. However, these effects were limited to the combination of alcohol and CBD—study participants did not experience these effects when they took CBD on its own.
It’s worth noting that this particular study used a much higher dosage of CBD than most people typically use. More research into how cannabis and alcohol interact within the body is certainly in order.
2. Lowered Inhibitions
Since both CBD oil and alcoholic beverages act as depressants, your symptoms might be amplified if you mix the two. In other words, you might feel extra uninhibited and relaxed, which always brings the risk of making poor choices. It’s wise to avoid this type of potential interaction.
3. Impaired Motor Functions
Research has shown that, when alcohol and CBD edibles, oil, etc. are combined, the duo can lead to significant motor and psychomotor performance impairments. While using a CBD product alone does not seem to produce these effects on cognitive function, when CBD is mixed with a glass of wine, a beer or cocktail, it can. Which may put you at greater risk of injury if you are feeling extra sleepy after mixing alcohol and cannabis.
4. Mood Alterations
When you consider the depressant effects of both alcohol and CBD, it should come as no surprise that mixing the two may lead to dramatic and unexpected mood alterations. It’s fairly well documented that some people automatically experience mood or personality changes when they drink alcohol—it may give them extra courage, reduce shyness or social anxiety, fill them with rage or bring a sense of overwhelming sadness.
When drinking is combined with CBD, these mood alterations may be intensified or they may change altogether. Everyone’s reaction to both alcohol and CBD is different, so it’s impossible to predict how the combination of the two might affect you.
5. Decreased CBD Efficiency
CBD’s major claim to fame is its interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which generally catalyzes a sluggish ECS to produce more of the body’s own natural endocannabinoids while also slowing their breakdown. This allows the ECS to more effectively regulate everything from mood to body temperature, memory, pain perception, immune function, reproduction, neuroprotection, appetite and more. Mixing CBD with alcohol may mute this catalyzing effect, negating the whole reason for using a CBD oil tincture in the first place. In addition, there’s some evidence that mixing alcohol and cannabis may diminish CBD’s health benefits by causing deterioration to the ECS.
Does CBD Oil Help with Hangovers?
CBD oil may not be a magic cure for a hangover, but it may ease some of the most common hangover symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, perhaps related to the antioxidants and neuroprotective properties inherent in CBD. In addition, sleep is one of the best remedies for a hangover, and many patients report improved sleep when taking a CBD product. CBD for headaches are also a fairly well documented therapy.
While there isn’t a lot of current available research about how CBD oil can help mitigate the negative effects of drinking alcohol, there are some early reasons to be optimistic. For example, blood alcohol level articulates the amount of alcohol in your blood; generally, the higher the blood alcohol level, leads to the loss of motor control and cognitive function while increasing likelihood of a hangover. One small study from the 1970s found that when subjects took 200 milligrams of CBD in combination with drinking alcohol, they showed dramatically lower blood alcohol levels than when they consumed alcohol with a placebo—which may lead to a decrease in the number and severity of hangover symptoms.
But don’t get too excited yet! It’s important to note that this study is fairly dated, and it delivered an extremely large dose of CBD. In fact, nearly five or 10 times higher than the recommended dosage for most people. It’s unclear whether a more realistic dose of CBD would have this effect, so more research is needed.
There may even be cause for optimism around CBD’s potential to alleviate long-term negative effects of drinking alcohol. For example, CBD oil may help mitigate the long-term cellular damage and disease sometimes associated with excessive and/or long-term use of alcohol. Many health issues can be tied to inflammation and excessive use of alcohol, including pancreatitis, some types of cancer, and liver disease. Some early evidence shows that CBD may help protect the body against this type of inflammation and cell damage.
Most studies in this area have focused solely on animal subjects, though they have produced optimistic results. For example, one animal study using rats as research participants revealed that applying CBD gel directly to the skin decreased damage to brain cells caused by drinking alcohol in excessive amounts—by up to 49 percent.
Another animal study has shown that injecting mice with CBD helped protect against alcohol-induced fatty liver disease by catalyzing the process of new cell turnover and tissue regeneration (known as autophagy).
Of course, more research is needed to determine whether these same effects would manifest in human subjects, but early results with animal subjects are cause for optimism.
Can CBD Help Alcoholism?
Results are still early and inconclusive, but some researchers believe that CBD has the potential to treat alcohol abuse and other addictive behavior. Some studies with animal subjects have shown that CBD can reduce some of the symptoms associated with substance addiction and withdrawal, including alcohol. In fact, one recent study explored effects of CBD consumption in alcohol-addicted laboratory rats. Researchers found that use of CBD helped reduce overall alcohol intake, prevented relapse, and seemed to decrease subjects’ alcohol cravings.
And while research with human subjects remains limited, one study of smokers showed that using a CBD inhaler for one week reduced cigarette use by 40 percent, suggesting that CBD could help curb addictive behavior.
One of the chief challenges of alcohol dependence is dealing with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and CBD oil may be able to help. Because CBD is known to help ease the symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, for example, it may be able to help recovering alcoholics through alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that CBD should not be the only treatment used for alcohol addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, you should certainly reach out for professional medical support. Alcohol withdrawal effects can be serious and life-threatening, and you should ensure that the process is overseen by qualified medical professionals who can advise as to whether CBD makes sense as part of your treatment regimen.
CBD Can Relieve Alcohol-Related Symptoms, But Avoid Mixing Them at the Same Time
Currently the research data around mixing CBD and alcohol is minimal, and offers conflicting results about whether alcohol and CBD are a healthy mix. While the short-term side effects of both may be amplified by mixing, there is some reason to be optimistic about how CBD may help alleviate chronic, long-term effects of excessive alcohol consumption, along with alcohol dependence. Until further research can continue to clarify the relationship between CBD and alcohol, it’s wise to avoid using them together.
And if you are considering mixing CBD and alcohol, it’s crucial to confer with your doctor or a Farmer & Chemist pharmacist, especially if you currently take any type of prescription medication on a regular basis. You should make sure you’re fully aware of the potential interactions specific to your situation. And if you decide to go ahead and mix the two, make sure you’re using the lowest possible amount of each so that you minimize the chances of adverse effects.