5 Things You Should Know About CBD and Alcohol
CBD is a remarkable cannabinoid given its powerful profile of purported therapeutic effects over a broad range of disorders. Its non-intoxicating properties make it an easy addition to many people’s lives.
Although CBD on its own is non-intoxicating, you may be wondering how it interacts with other substances that have intoxicating effects, such as alcohol.
Having CBD and alcohol together
While only a few studies over the last several decades examined the effects of CBD and alcohol when taken together, there are enough data to know that CBD and alcohol interact with each other.
CBD has been shown to affect not only the way that intoxication feels after consuming alcohol but also on the way that alcohol affects our liver and brain. These studies have led scientists to consider CBD as both a treatment option for alcohol use disorder and as a protectant against alcohol’s damaging effects.
CBD could reduce alcohol intake
It seems that CBD might be helpful in reducing overall alcohol intake, both for a single session of drinking and for long-term, chronic use.
Animal studies have shown that co-administration of CBD and alcohol reduced alcohol intake, motivation for alcohol, relapse, and measures of anxiety and impulsivity in different rodent models of alcohol use disorder.¹⁻² These preclinical studies in rodents have produced encouraging results for scientists and clinicians looking for new therapies to treat addiction and other overuse disorders.
A series of clinical studies in the 70s looked specifically at the effects of CBD and alcohol when taken together. It turned out that when CBD was consumed with alcohol, participants in the study overestimated how much they’d had to drink over a certain period of time. Participants guessed that they were more intoxicated than they were.³
But even more interestingly, taking CBD at the same time as alcohol actually lowered blood alcohol levels in participants, suggesting that not only does CBD cause people to think they’re drinking more than they have, but it also may reduce the actual levels of intoxicants in the blood.⁴
For social drinkers, this suggests that taking CBD with your favorite glass of wine or a pint of beer means you might be able to enjoy a heightened sense of inebriation while maintaining a lower relative blood alcohol level. Other studies on humans have shown that CBD generally does not interact with the subjective effects of alcohol, so it’s clear that scientists still need to look at how the timing and dosage of CBD administration might change the effects of alcohol.
CBD could protect your liver against alcohol-related damage and stress
The liver works hard to metabolize alcohol, and can generally handle the challenge, but over time, alcohol can cause serious injury. Alcohol induces liver inflammation and promotes inflammation throughout the body in general.
Given CBD’s demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, scientists are intrigued by CBD’s potential role as a protectant against alcohol-induced liver damage. Studies have shown that CBD reduces alcohol-related stress on the liver by boosting the liver’s functionality, moderating inflammation, and reducing harmful compounds in the liver that can accumulate when it’s overworked.
CBD could protect your brain against alcohol-related damage and stress
Alcohol consumption has an immediate effect on the brain—that’s where the feeling of intoxication comes from. But over time, alcohol can reduce the size of certain parts of the brain that are critical for memory, executive functioning, and emotion recognition.⁵
In both animal and cell culture models, cannabidiol was shown to be neuroprotective against alcohol’s damaging effects on the hippocampus. CBD’s ability to prevent and reduce alcohol-related brain damage is an exciting discovery, though scientists haven’t yet figured out how it achieves this neuroprotective effect.⁶
CBD could help get rid of your hangover
Believe it or not, scientists have been fighting over the exact definition of the “hangover” for decades. There is even an official research group founded in 2010 dedicated to the study of the hangover.
The symptoms of a hangover are rough and can be different across individuals, but the causes seem to be some combination of dehydration, alterations in hormones, and an increase in both inflammation and oxidative stress in the body as it works to digest alcohol and its metabolites.
CBD’s antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and pain-soothing properties make it a solid potential option to suppress the unwanted consequences of a hangover.⁷ By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, CBD tackles the underlying issues of a hangover, while the soothing properties could help mitigate unpleasant symptoms like muscle pain or headache.
While CBD hasn’t been explicitly targeted as a hangover treatment yet, its profile of therapeutic benefits situates it perfectly as a potential therapy for the morning after a night of imbibing.
The Bottom Line: CBD and Alcohol
The studies so far suggest that having CBD and alcohol together is perfectly safe and might even be a better option than alcohol alone. The CBD may keep you from drinking more and may reduce the amount of damage that alcohol actually does to your brain and liver. If you end up with a hangover the next day, CBD can also swoop in and may potentially help you get over your hangover more quickly.
Alcohol doesn’t destroy or denature CBD, so the next time you’re mixing a martini or a cuba libre, drop in some CBD tincture for good measure.
¹Viudez-Martínez, A., García-Gutiérrez, M. S., Navarrón, C. M., Morales-Calero, M. I., Navarrete, F., Torres-Suárez, A. I., & Manzanares, J. (2018). Cannabidiol reduces ethanol consumption, motivation and relapse in mice. Addiction biology, 23(1), 154–164. https://doi.org/10.1111/adb.12495
²Gonzalez-Cuevas, G., Martin-Fardon, R., Kerr, T. M., Stouffer, D. G., Parsons, L. H., Hammell, D. C., Banks, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Weiss, F. (2018). Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 43(10), 2036–2045. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-018-0050-8
³Robinson, T. E., & Berridge, K. C. (1993). The neural basis of drug craving: an incentive-sensitization theory of addiction. Brain research. Brain research reviews, 18(3), 247–291. https://doi.org/10.1016/0165-0173(93)90013-p
⁴Consroe, P., Carlini, E. A., Zwicker, A. P., & Lacerda, L. A. (1979). Interaction of cannabidiol and alcohol in humans. Psychopharmacology, 66(1), 45–50. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00431988
⁵De Ternay, J., Naassila, M., Nourredine, M., Louvet, A., Bailly, F., Sescousse, G., Maurage, P., Cottencin, O., Carrieri, P. M., & Rolland, B. (2019). Therapeutic Prospects of Cannabidiol for Alcohol Use Disorder and Alcohol-Related Damages on the Liver and the Brain. Frontiers in pharmacology, 10, 627. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2019.00627
⁶Turna, J., Syan, S. K., Frey, B. N., Rush, B., Costello, M. J., Weiss, M., & MacKillop, J. (2019). Cannabidiol as a Novel Candidate Alcohol Use Disorder Pharmacotherapy: A Systematic Review. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research, 43(4), 550–563. https://doi.org/10.1111/acer.13964
⁷Wang, F., Li, Y., Zhang, Y. J., Zhou, Y., Li, S., & Li, H. B. (2016). Natural Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Hangover and Alcohol Use Disorder. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 21(1), 64. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules21010064