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What Actually Happens When You Mix CBD & Alcohol

The Good, The Bad, and The Unknown of CBD and Alcohol Interaction

To many of us, CBD (cannabidiol) is something that is only used at home in your wellness cabinet, gym bag, or nightstand. Maybe you use a topical, tincture, or gummies. But now you can find CBD even at your local bar. CBD-infused cocktails, beers, waters, and more have become increasingly popular and available.

This may come as a surprise to those of us who found out the hard way that sometimes marijuana and alcohol do not mix so pleasantly. There is still a long way to go in terms of conducting conclusive studies about the effects of CBD and alcohol interaction, but this article is going to cover what we do know so far.

All About CBD

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CBD (cannabidiol) is one of over 113 cannabinoids that, alongside terpenes and other plant material, make up the cannabis plant. The plant species, Cannabis, includes both marijuana and hemp. Mairjauna and Hemp both contain CBD and other cannabinoids, but the levels of each cannabinoid is different. Hemp must legally contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC.

Marijuana may contain upwards of 25% Delta-9 THC and this is the cannabinoid thought to be responsible for the feeling of being “high”. Hemp also contains higher levels of CBD (upwards of 20%) relative to marijauan (no more than 1-2%). All CBD products on the market not bought from a dispensary must be made from hemp-derived CBD, not marijauna. 

More and more studies about the benefits CBD may be able to provide are published every year. CBD interacts with your body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to promote a balanced level of operation amongst all your bodily functions. This is called homeostasis. CBD use may help you with pain management, inflammation, anxiety, stress, sleeplessness, digestive issues, focus, weight loss, and more.

CBD and Alcohol Interaction

CBD and Alcohol Interaction May Boost Each Other’s Effects (sometimes not in a good way)

When CBD is taken concurrently with alcohol, the effects of each may be amplified. CBD and alcohol interaction is known to produce relaxing effects that can lighten your mood. Taken together, the amplified feelings of calm and relaxation can quickly turn to sleepiness and sedation.

In study conducted in which participants were either given placebo, CBD, alcohol, or a combination of both CBD and alcohol, the group of participants who took alcohol and the group who took alcohol and CBD were found to have “significant impairments of motor and psychomotor performances, overestimations of time production and subjective responses indicating an accurate self-perception of their intoxication and deficits” (Belgrave, et al).

It should be noted that the amount of CBD given to participants (200mg) is generally a significantly higher dose of CBD than many CBD users take. This could skew the results of the study and the need for further studies is apparent. 

CBD May Protect You From Alcohol’s Negative Side Effects

CBD May Lower Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

You heard us right, when consuming alcohol, CBD may lower your blood alcohol content (BAC) relative to not using CBD.* This was found in a study that compared the effects of people who took either alcohol or a combination of CBD and alcohol. The BAC of the group with CBD and alcohol with “significantly lower” than the BAC of the alcohol-only group. Despite the lower BAC levels, this did not change the physical effects of the alcohol (users were still the same amount of drunk).

A pair of additional studies with rodents found results that contrasted the aforementioned study.*,* This highlights the need for more studies about the effects CBD and alcohol have when used concurrently. 

CBD May Protect Against Cell Damage From Alcohol Use

Alcohol has damaging effects on the cells in our liver brain, but CBD may be able to help reduce the negative impact. CBD has been shown to have antioxidant properties and it is these properties that can help protect the liver from damage done by alcohol use. Additionally, CBD may be able to help promote tissue regeneration and new cell production.* 

In another study on mice, topical CBD Gel reduced damage to the brain (neurodegeneration).* If these results hold true for humans is still unclear. As with most aspects of how CBD and alcohol mix, there is a great need for further studies.

CBD May Be A Useful Therapy Tool For Alcohol Addiction

With the prevalence of alcohol in many aspects of American culture from movies, to dining out, to college, to business, and more, it should be no surprise that nearly 15 million people struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).* Studies with rodents found that CBD can reduce the urge to consume alcohol.*,* Other studies have found that CBD can help to prevent relapse.* Although more studies are necessary to confirm findings, this is a promising start.

CBD May Help With Hangover Symptoms

While CBD can’t make you less drunk if you already consumed alcohol, it may be able to help you recover after a night of too much alcohol. Hangovers are often accompanied by nausea and headaches. CBD has been shown to reduce nausea as well as the inflammation that causes headaches.*,*

Conclusion

When used together, CBD and alcohol interaction may amplify each other’s effects. This can lead to sleepiness and sedation. To be safe, it is best to consume less alcohol than you normally would if you are drinking as well as using CBD. Some studies have shown that CBD may be able to help protect against the damage alcohol can cause your liver and brain. The symptoms of a hangover such as nausea and headaches may be relieved with CBD use. Bottom line, there is still a lot to be learned about CBD and Alcohol interaction.

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