CBD For Hangovers: Myth or Fact?

CBD 101
CBD For Hangovers: Myth or Fact?

The brown bottle flu is a doozy. We’ve all been there a time or two, waking up after a night out hugging the toilet, sweating, and swearing up and down, “I’ll never drink again!” 

Hangovers experienced after drinking too much are the worst—and there’s nothing you want more than for it to stop, which is probably why you’re here. If that’s the case—good luck and Godspeed. We hope you feel better soon!

First and foremost, CBD isn’t a hangover cure—but it may be able to help with some of the nastier effects of a hangover. Below we unpack some of the science around CBD products, including how they may be handy for hangovers.

What Causes a Hangover in the First Place?

To feel hungover, you’ve gotta drink alcohol—which is something people have been doing (and regretting) for thousands of years. Alcohol consumption can be a pretty common occurrence, let alone in the summer, during casual nights inside, or during weekend celebrations. Yet scientists are still trying to pinpoint the mystery behind what happens within the body to make you drunk—as well as what causes the hangover effect that follows.

While there are countless studies on the long-term effects of alcohol consumption, the science behind getting intoxicated and then feeling hungover has become more popular in the last few years. Basically, research seems to indicate that hangovers may be caused by our immune systems panicking about processing the alcohol—triggering inflammation.¹

Those with a hangover typically will have elevated levels of cytokines—chemical messengers that are released by the immune system to tell the body how to protect itself. (Cytokines also screw up your short-term memory and are often partially to blame for the inability to recall things after being blackout drunk.)

When these cytokines get frenzied, the immune system gets fired up. It turns up the heat in the form of inflammation, which is directly responsible for many other issues linked to hangovers— like headaches, fatigue, upset stomach, chills, and nausea.

Another contributor to hangovers might be toxins produced in your liver from processing alcohol. When your body breaks down ethanol, it releases acetaldehyde—which is highly toxic. But your body changes it quickly into acetate to protect you from poisoning yourself. While science is on the fence about it being the direct culprit, acetate levels could certainly worsen your hangover. 

Lastly, alcohol inhibits vitamin absorption and your body’s ability to use them.² You may feel sick after a night of drinking as the body uses up vital nutrients like thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B12, folic acid, and zinc. It also disrupts the water balance in muscle cells, possibly contributing to the fatigue that accompanies hangovers.

CBD, Alcohol & The Endocannabinoid System

As discussed, alcohol can affect the body in a lot of different ways—but typically for the worst. It interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), a cell-signaling system found throughout our body and central nervous system.³

The ECS regulates many of the background functions within the body—sleep, mood, memory, appetite, pain responses, immune system function, and more. Its primary job is to keep the body balanced (or homeostatic).

It sends messages back and forth using chemicals called endocannabinoids, which bind to the receptors found throughout the ECS. While alcohol doesn’t bind to endocannabinoid receptors, studies have shown that long-term alcohol use can throw your ECS off kilter.⁴

For example, one study found that short-term alcohol exposure might reduce endocannabinoid levels in the brain—which prevents your ECS from doing its job to its highest potential.⁵ Another study found levels of similar chemicals decrease with alcohol use.⁶ Take N-acylethanolamines, for example—these relate to mood, and when levels drop, the ECS can become imbalanced again. 

This brings us to CBD, something that naturally may be able to help the ECS recalibrate after drinking alcohol. Hemp CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found within the hemp plant that won’t get you stoned. It does have the ability to bind to receptors in your ECS, though—possibly to help bring it back into balance after too much drinking.

How Does CBD for Hangover Headaches Work?

CBD binds to receptors in the ECS, which may help trigger bodily functions that keep the body in balance. Studies have shown that CBD could play a very versatile role within the body thanks to its relationship with our ECS.⁷

CBD's most significant potential benefit is its chance of helping with managing inflammation.⁸ By working with the ECS to modulate pain and inflammation responses, it can potentially help overcome alcohol’s inflammatory properties. Inflammation can be credited for many of the nasty hangover symptoms we all dread— nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, chills, and headaches.⁹ A study found that the more you drink, the higher you test for inflammation. Reducing inflammation may help prevent hangovers. 

Curious about CBD and inflammation? Learn more about how CBD may help other types of inflammation.

Can CBD cause loss of appetite? Other studies have explored CBD for nausea and a lack of appetite. When you drink, it can put tremendous stress on the body and possibly lead to decreased bioavailability of the nutrients you’re ingesting. Nausea is one common hangover symptom that can prevent you from eating a healthy meal to replenish the nutrients that will put you on the road to recovery. 

Another study found that CBD may help the ECS to curb feelings of nausea or slow down vomiting.¹⁰ These are promising findings since being able to keep down food and water is essential for getting back on your feet.

CBD’s interactions with the ECS may make it possible to reduce the inflammation that leads to headaches, chills, and fatigue after a night of drinking. These interactions may also assist with nausea, upset stomachs, and the lack of appetite you need to overcome to feel better.

On the topic of appetite—can CBD boost metabolism? While CBD may not be the cure for a slower metabolism, it does work closely with the endocannabinoid system.

Is CBD Good for Hangovers?

Even though hemp CBD can affect many bodily processes linked to hangovers, it isn’t a cure, per se. Instead, it’s more like a supplement that could help your ECS stay level. That said, it isn’t going to help you when you’re actively dealing with the symptoms of a hangover. 

It’s also important to consider that even with the positive potential benefits of CBD, it may cause side effects for some—like nausea or fatigue. If you’re already dealing with a lot of nausea when you are hungover, you may want to stick to the Pepto Bismol and ibuprofen instead of CBD—as there’s always the chance it could make you feel worse. 

Using CBD For A Hangover

If you drink and want to try CBD for a pre-emptive strike against hangovers, it would be best to take CBD daily, as any vitamin or supplement. It isn’t necessarily a hangover cure, but if you have it built up in your system, it can help make it easier for your ECS to snap your body back into shape after a night out.

Just be sure not to take it as you’re drinking. Alcohol reduces your inhibitions and makes you feel more relaxed—and some studies suggest CBD has similar anxiety-reducing and calming effects.¹¹ One study found that using both alcohol and CBD together may amplify the effects, reducing your motor skills or even causing you to fall asleep.¹² Taking it in the morning and after you’re done drinking for the night may make it easier for you to experience some of its benefit potential (without putting yourself in danger).

At the end of the day, the best remedy for a hangover is a healthy meal with plenty of vitamins and minerals, lots of water, and good rest. A CBD product isn’t a bad addition to your hangover rescue kit and may help manage some of the most common unpleasant feelings—like lacking an appetite, headaches, nausea, and fatigue. If you want to integrate CBD into your daily routine, you are in good hands with Lazarus Naturals.¹³ Our effective, full spectrum, lab-tested CBD is the perfect addition to any wellness routine! Fortunately, we have various CBD products that aren’t just for hangover relief, such as CBD oil capsules and CBD edibles.