Much has been said about the health benefits of CBD, but as CBD oil and other products gain popularity across the world, people start to wonder whether they can mix it with substances like alcohol for recreational use. And if yes, what happens when CBD and alcohol are in your bloodstream at the same time. CBD is virtually everywhere. You can find it online as well as in your local cannabis dispensary, vape store, head shop, or pharmacy. Entrepreneurial people in the hemp industry can get creative when it comes to using CBD. You can find it in CBD oils, capsules, gummies, concentrates, topicals, vape juice, and even products for pets. Alcohol manufacturers are trying to jump on the bandwagon too by introducing CBD-infused wine, beer, shots, and other alcoholic beverages. However, these two substances are on the opposite side of the spectrum. CBD is a potent antioxidant and neuroprotectant while alcohol is a known neurotoxin whose “safe doses” have been debunked by the largest study on this subject to date. Therefore, many people started to question the safety of mixing CBD and alcohol. This article reviews the effects of taking alcohol and CBD together.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. It’s one of the two major cannabinoids next to THC. But unlike THC, the active ingredient in marijuana plants, CBD is not intoxicating, meaning it can’t cause the high that’s often linked to marijuana use. CBD oil can be extracted from both hemp and marijuana, although the vast majority of the global CBD market revolves around hemp products due to its legality. Studies suggest that CBD may offer a wide range of health benefits, including better regeneration, effective muscle relief, and improved skin health to name a few. It’s impossible to fatally overdose on CBD. This compound is safe and well-tolerated in humans and animals, even in extremely high doses.
What is Alcohol?
Also known as ethanol, alcohol is the main psychoactive ingredient in beverages. In other words, it’s the substance that makes you drunk. Alcohol is produced by yeast that consumes and processes the sugar in certain carb-rich foods such as grains, grapes, and potatoes. Alcohol is also one of the most popular intoxicants in the world. It can have a powerful mind-altering effect and compromise your motor skills and cognitive functions. People often act without inhibition under the influence of alcohol; drinking reduces shyness and impairs judgment, sometimes promoting behavior people may regret the day after having one drink too many. Some people drink moderately, while others tend to abuse alcohol. Excessive drinking can devastate your health.
Short-term Side Effects of Alcohol:
- Slurred speech
- Breathing difficulties
- Impaired judgment
- Weak coordination and decreased perception
- Upset stomach
- Distorted vision and hearing
Long-term Side Effects of Alcohol
- Alcohol poisoning
- Liver disease
- Nerve damage
- Vitamin B1 deficiency
- Permanent brain damage
- Sexual problems
CBD and Alcohol: Do They Mix?
Theoretically, yes, they do mix. But that doesn’t mean you should take CBD together with alcohol. Although this subject is under-researched, data from several small studies indicate that CBD can amplify some of alcohol’s effects due to how these two interact with each other. CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS controls vital biological functions, keeping the body in the state of equilibrium, or homeostasis. CBD signals several receptor pathways in the body, including CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. For example, when the CB2 receptor is activated, whether by endocannabinoids or plant-based cannabinoids, it may regulate inflammation, immune response, and other functions. The effects of CBD may vary between individuals because every human body is different. There are at least a few genetic mutations of the CB2 receptor, which may produce different responses to CBD. As a result, how one person responds to a mix of CBD and alcohol may vary fundamentally. Let’s see what studies say about mixing CBD and alcohol.
What Happens When You Take CBD with Alcohol?
Alcohol is known for its sedative properties. People often drink it to reduce social fears and promote feelings of relaxation. CBD can have similar effects on its users. Studies have shown that it can calm your nerves and reduce anxiety upon exposure to daily stressors. For example, a study conducted on 75 people to test the efficacy of CBD in treating anxiety showed that a dose of 25–75 mg of CBD daily taken for a month dampened anxiety and improved the sleep quality of the subjects. Mixing CBD and alcohol could amplify these effects, potentially causing a person to feel drowsy and sedated. Some people also claim that taking CBD together with alcohol can intensify each other’s effects, leading to intense mood alteration. One small study that analyzed the effects of a CBD-alcohol mixture — 200 mg of CBD alongside 1 gram of alcohol for every 2.2 pounds (1kg) of total weight. The researchers observed that mixing CBD and alcohol resulted in significant motor performance and changes in the perception of time. Participants didn’t report these effects when they took CBD alone. Still, this isn’t the best study to conclude from, as it was conducted on a small sample and used a much higher dose of CBD than most people use in their routine. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough research to determine how exactly CBD works when taken alongside alcohol. There are, however, studies, proving that CBD may protect against the side effects of alcohol abuse.
How CBD Can Counter the Negative Effects of Alcohol
By looking at the benefits of CBD, it seems that this compound could help with at least several side effects of alcohol. Where exactly does CBD shine?
CBD Oil for Alcohol Hangovers
CBD oil has taken the wellness industry by the storm. Its rapidly growing presence in dispensaries, major pharmacies, and health food stores has made people wonder how it may improve their daily lives. While CBD oil is unlikely to help with immediate alcohol intoxication or compromised motor skills, it can be a viable tool for managing the symptoms of a hangover, including headaches, increased blood pressure, and nausea. CBD’s antioxidant and neuroprotective properties may also make it a decent option for nursing hangovers. While everyone’s body is different and will respond differently to both CBD and alcohol, it’s possible for CBD products to ease some of the peskiest hangover-related issues. If you want to enjoy the relaxing experience without alcohol-induced intoxication, you can mix CBD with cocktail recipes, skipping the liquor, and having a healthy drink in a social setting.
CBD May Protect Cells Against Damage and Disease
Binge drinking can result in damaged cells, increasing the risk of inflammation and chronic conditions such as liver disease, pancreatitis, and certain types of cancer. Several studies performed on animal models have observed that CBD may act as a neuroprotectant and reduce the damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption. For example, a study on rats showed that administering CBD topicals to the skin lowered the brain-cell damage caused by alcohol abuse by up to 49%. In another study, mice treated with CBD were better protected against alcohol-induced fatty liver disease by stimulating autophagy, a process that supports cell regeneration. One study has linked CBD-rich cannabis extract to an increased risk of liver toxicity in mice, although some of the mice in that study have been force-fed with ridiculously high amounts of the whole-plant cannabis extract. We don’t know whether CBD produces similar effects in humans. More research is needed to know whether CBD can prevent alcohol-induced damage and cell disease in human models.
CBD May Reduce Blood Alcohol Levels
The amount of alcohol in your blood is measured with blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A higher BAC typically means a greater impairment in motor skills and cognitive performance. The research on CBD’s effects on blood alcohol levels is very limited. However, one study conducted on 10 people correlated a dose of 200 mg CBD to significantly lower blood alcohol levels than when the alcohol was consumed with a placebo. Please note that the study was not only conducted very long ago (in the 1970s), but it also used a very high dose of CBD — up to 10 times higher than most people take daily. It’s unclear whether regular doses of CBD would have the same effect. Moreover, several studies have noted conflicting results, reporting that CBD hasn’t reduced blood alcohol concentration when it was mixed with alcohol.
CBD for Alcohol Addiction and Withdrawals: A New Hope
Earlier in the article, we’ve mentioned the potential benefits of CBD in alleviating the hangover symptoms, but could it also help manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal? Again, we don’t have much research on this subject, but CBD may be able to help reduce the risk of alcohol withdrawals by promoting internal balance and helping with some of their symptoms. In a 2014 study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, the researchers asserted that CBD can reduce liver toxicity associated with alcohol in mice. The study found that CBD protected the livers of the subjects from steatosis (fatty liver disease) caused by binge drinking. A 2016 review from the journal Neurotoxicity Research found little evidence to support the use of CBD in treating alcohol withdrawal, but it did highlight CBD’s interaction with CB2 receptors as potentially effective in treating alcohol dependence. Furthermore, Dr. Melanie Bone, a medical marijuana specialist who works in Florida claims that CBD can contribute to harm reduction when it comes to problematic drinking. By having a positive influence on the body’s defenses and reducing alcohol cravings, CBD may help people minimize the side-effects of alcoholism. These are promising findings considering that alcohol withdrawals can be very serious, sometimes leading to death if not handled properly. We always recommend that you seek medical supervision before kicking the habit, even when trying to ease your symptoms with CBD.
Should You Mix CBD and Alcohol?
Current research on the effects of mixing CBD on alcohol is limited to small-sample studies and analyses based on animal models. Several studies have found that CBD may lower blood alcohol levels and mitigate the adverse health effects of binge drinking. Others, however, have found conflicting results. The effects of CBD vary from person to person, so it’s difficult to determine whether talking CBD alongside alcohol would have a similar effect on all people. Most importantly, the majority of the current research has analyzed the effects of taking very high doses of alcohol with CBD, rather than testing the effects of moderate amounts spiced up here and there with CBD oil. We don’t know much about the effects of moderate or occasional consumption, so we can’t recommend taking CBD and alcohol together, especially if you’re not sure about your response to both substances.
Why Mixing CBD and Alcohol Is Counter-Productive
CBD is a health supplement that has remarkable anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties. It can enhance your general well-being and alleviate a variety of health problems without causing any dangerous side effects. In short, CBD is a versatile tool that can significantly improve your daily life safely and naturally. Alcohol, on the other hand, is anything but safe and healthy. Regular drinking, even in small amounts, can lead to addiction and bring nasty consequences on your health. Most importantly, you can’t lethally overdose on CBD. Alcohol is known for quite the opposite, so why counter the benefits of a natural neuroprotectant and antioxidant with the toxic effects coming from ethanol?
Key Takeaways on Mixing CBD and Alcohol
CBD and alcohol may intensify each other’s effects when taken together in high doses, causing sedation and drowsiness. However, some human and animal studies show that CBD can protect cells against alcohol-induced damage and reduce blood alcohol concentration on top of controlling addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Until more research is available, it’s unclear whether consuming CBD and alcohol — even in small to moderate amounts — can be safe.