Back to All Posts

Mixing CBD And Alcohol: Is It Safe?

Share this post

Those who've experienced the effects of mixing marijuana and alcohol may have had a less than graceful outcome.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is THC's counterpart from the cannabis plant that's non-psychotropic. CBD products made from hemp plants have been taking over the health and wellness space as a relatively safe and gentle compound to support various health goals.

Unlike THC, CBD doesn't get most people high, so its interaction with alcoholic drinks is much more subtle—and it may have some benefits for when you've had a night of excess alcohol consumption.

In this article, we'll discuss everything you need to know about taking CBD and alcohol— Is it safe to mix? What are the possible consequences? Does taking CBD help for alcohol hangovers? And does CBD have health benefits for alcohol withdrawals? 

Alcohol And CBD Interaction

Human beings have been crafting boozy beverages as early as 7000–6600 BCE. The residues of fermented juice were recovered from pottery artifacts from the Jiahu, a Neolithic village in the Yellow River Valley, China [1].

Two of the main reasons people drink alcohol are coping with stress and releasing inhibitions, especially in social situations [2]. These generalizations come from studies that sample the general adult population and college students rather than alcoholics or problem drinkers.

Similarly, people turn to CBD products for relaxation and avoid additional intoxicating effects that would normally come with marijuana (due to THC).

To answer the question about the safety of mixing CBD and alcohol, it's helpful first to understand how each substance interacts with the body to exert its effects.

Blood Alcohol Levels & Effects On The Body

Alcohol is a compound that's absorbed into the bloodstream via the digestive system. It's then broken down by the liver and eliminated from the body. As the blood alcohol concentration rises, the more intoxicated one feels.

With a slight increase in blood alcohol levels, one can feel temporarily excited and relaxed. The effects of intoxication from alcohol can vary from one person to the next.

You may have heard that alcohol is a depressant. The common factor in alcohol use is that it slows down central nervous system function, meaning that it inhibits some of our major functions, including slowing the heart rate, breathing, and significant impairments in cognitive function, and movements [3].

Increased alcohol intake can also lower serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain, which helps to regulate mood. With lower levels of these neurotransmitters, one can feel depressed and may even worsen anxiety leading to more adverse health effects.

When you drastically exceed the liver's rate of metabolizing alcohol in the system, you put yourself at risk for a dangerously low heart rate, breathing, and liver toxicity. Additionally, the inhibition and lack of motor control can place intoxicated people at higher risk of injury and death.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder is a term used for when someone has an alcohol problem. This may affect their work performance, interpersonal relationships, and physical health—putting them more at risk for chronic disease. There are many different stages of this disease so it's important to seek the appropriate help to address excessive alcohol consumption.

Alcohol abuse is common in those who have family members who are addicted to alcohol and depressed individuals. When drinking becomes a habit, it can put you at risk for alcohol addiction, diabetes, mood disorders, liver toxicity, and cardiovascular disease [4].

Problematic drinking can be caused by environmental factors, genetics, personality traits, drug abuse, and mental health problems that are not due to substance abuse. Treatment for binge drinking includes psychotherapy with trained professionals who specialize in addiction treatment (therapists) and support groups for people with the same condition as you do like Alcoholics Anonymous (Al-Anon). 

How Does CBD Interact With The Body?

When it comes to relaxation, many people are turning to naturally-derived CBD products. In this way, CBD oil and alcohol have positive effects towards promoting a feeling of calmness.

CBD's interaction in the body has to do with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is the largest neural network that relays messages to moderate vital systems that control our stress response, sleep-wake cycle, mood, and metabolism.

CBD or cannabidiol is a plant-based cannabinoid. But our body also naturally produces cannabinoids called "endocannabinoids." These are the messengers that interact with receptors in the ECS to regulate our vital systems.

CBD has been found to increase the levels of natural endocannabinoids by inhibiting the breakdown of our endocannabinoids. With more endocannabinoids in our system, ECS works efficiently to maintain homeostasis (balance). When the body is in balance, it can perform its functions optimally. Conversely, when we're out of balance, we're more prone to disease.

On top of its effects on the ECS, CBD has been observed to interact with receptors outside the ECS. For example, CBD has a unique interaction with GABA receptors in the brain. You can think of GABA as the brake pedal to the body's stress response, as it slows down hyperactivity [5].

CBD has also been shown to interact with specific pain-receptor sites to inhibit pain signals to relax tense muscles and increase comfort [6].

Unlike THC, CBD doesn't produce intoxicating effects that alter one's audio and visual perceptions. CBD effects are much more subtle as they feel relaxing and can even make you feel sleepy. However, the effects of CBD oil can vary drastically from person to person, depending on their genetics and physical state. 

What Are The Effects Of Mixing CBD And Alcohol?

The endocannabinoid system is a complex system that we're only beginning to scratch the surface of. Because of this, the full effects of CBD oil on the body are still unknown.

However, based on our current understanding of CBD use, it's been observed that mixing CBD and alcohol may amplify some effects of intoxication. At the same time, CBD may also mitigate some of the harmful effects of alcohol when used moderately.

In one study, alcohol mixed with CBD produced "significant impairment of motor and psychomotor performances, overestimations of time production, and subjective responses indicating an accurate self-perception of their intoxication and deficits" [7]. The same effects were not observed with CBD use on its own.

One explanation that may account for this is likely due to CBD's relaxing effects on the body, which may lower your inhibitions and increase the depressive effects of alcohol, making you feel clumsy and tired.

In the same study, it was observed that combining alcohol consumption with CBD significantly reduced blood alcohol levels compared to alcohol on its own [7].

It's also important to point out this study was conducted in 1979 and involved high doses of CBD oil out of the normally recommended doses of CBD from off-the-shelf products. Existing research on this remains quite polarizing. More research needs to be carried out to understand the effects of CBD and blood alcohol levels further. 

Is it Safe To Mix CBD And Alcohol?

Suppose you're a regular CBD user looking to answer, "can you drink alcohol on CBD?"

The short answer is "yes"—for most people.

However, it's safest to do so in low doses of both alcohol and CBD oil—and to do so in moderation. An increase in blood alcohol concentration can put you at risk of injury and serious hangovers the next morning. Overall, you don't have to worry about enjoying your alcoholic drink while using CBD to support your physical and mental health.

Still, it's important to remember that one's CBD experience can vary from one person to the next, so if you're new to using CBD, we don't recommend mixing it with other compounds. This way, you can better understand how your body responds to CBD oil and can find the right dose to feel its potential health benefits.

Taking CBD and Alcohol-Related Damage

CBD is found to reduce the effects of chronic drinking and neurodegeneration in animal studies [12].

The CBD was found to prevent alcohol-induced liver steatosis in mice and rats from excessive binge drinking. CBD's liver-protective benefits are due in part to CBD ability to inhibit oxidative stress and increase autophagy and risk for chronic diseases.

Autophagy is the body's mechanism that clears damaged proteins or organelles while eliminating unnecessary factors so that tissue and cell regeneration can be achieved quickly. CBD inhibited the reduction of neural cells in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. 

One study found that CBD may help reduce some of the damage caused by alcohol cravings [13]. CBD has been shown to help people drink less frequently which could lessen some of its related side-effects like fatty liver disease or nausea after binge drinking.

CBD Cocktails

More CBD companies are experimenting with CBD-infused drinks.

CBD drinks are non-alcoholic beverages mixed with unflavored CBD oil for alternatives to traditional alcoholic drinks. On top of this, CBD beverages can mask the naturally grassy taste of CBD, which isn't everyone's cup of tea.

The new FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval of CBD cocktails and CBD-infused beer is bringing more controversy to Washington. The FDA reminds the public that scientific evidence supporting or disproving CBD's efficacy in treating these medical conditions is limited.

What about CBD mixed with alcoholic beverages? As far as we know, pre-mixed CBD and alcoholic beverages aren't permitted for sale, as the effects of mixing these two substances aren't well understood.

Mixing alcohol with CBD can prove to be dangerous for some, especially if they're prone to alcohol abuse. While CBD and alcohol are generally considered safe for most people, you should still be cautious in consuming alcohol with CBD. The CDC says this study suggests a lack of definitive data on how cannabinoids in adults affect brain development in many ways.

CBD For Alcohol Hangover

So, you've had a night out and enjoyed one too many drinks. Now you're experiencing the dreaded hangover—your head is pounding, every movement makes you nauseous, and your body aches.

We've heard our fair share of bizarre hangover cures, from blue cheese and beer to downing a glass of pickle juice.

You might not have to go through such absurd lengths to recover your day. More and more people swear by CBD oil to support some of the discomfort brought on by hangovers. 

Why Do We Experience Hangovers In The First Place?

You may have heard that alcohol hangovers are a mild form of withdrawal, and this is somewhat true, but there's a lot more going on in the body.

Alcohol is essentially toxic to our bodies. The liver works tirelessly to process the alcohol, so while it's in our system, it wreaks havoc on our body's ability to maintain homeostasis.

Let's look at some of the effects of alcohol intoxication that may be responsible for the dreaded hangover symptoms.

1. Alcohol Causes Dehydration

We need water to carry out virtually all cell functions in the body. When we're dehydrated, we're prone to headaches, lethargy, and poor digestion.

Alcohol is a diuretic compound, which essentially means it makes us urinate more frequently. On top of this, it disrupts the hormone vasopressin that tells the kidneys to retain fluid, meaning we're more prone to dehydration [8].

Get some water and electrolytes back in your system when you wake up, or better yet, keep hydrated as you're drinking.

As for your headaches or hangover migraines, CBD may provide you with comfort thanks to its interaction with the vanilloid receptors (TRPV1 receptor) that regulate the sensation of pain [9].

2. Alcohol Disrupts Quality Sleep

We've briefly discussed alcohol as a depressant that causes our central nervous system to slow down, which may cause sleepiness. However, excess alcohol intake is linked to poor sleep quality, which is why you'll often wake up exhausted after drinking too much.

Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but it doesn't allow you to fall asleep deeply to get into REM sleep, the vital part of the sleep cycle where most of our recovery occurs.

The best thing you can do in this case is try to get back to sleep. If that's not possible, take it easy throughout the day and make sure you get a full eight hours of sleep the next night. CBD oil may help you get to sleep easier when taking it an hour before bed.

3. Alcohol Irritates The Stomach

Nausea is a common side effect of too much drinking. It happens because alcohol irritates the stomach lining, and nausea is a protective reaction to prevent us from taking something that may harm us, like poison.

The urge to vomit and nausea is our body's way of eliminating toxic substances from our digestive system.

One of the many reasons people reach for CBD is to support nausea symptoms. The ECS regulates nausea and vomiting responses. Because THC is generally better known to support nausea symptoms, thanks to its interaction with CB1 receptors, full spectrum CBD is ideal for supporting healthy nausea and vomiting responses after a night out [10].

What CBD Products Work Best For Alcohol Hangovers

The CBD product you choose for your hangover will come down to preference. There is no shortage of the different types of CBD methods on the market.

The only product category that won't help you out with hangover symptoms is topical products, as they don't ever enter the bloodstream.

For the fastest-acting effects, smoking or vaping CBD is the answer. The cannabinoids can enter the bloodstream nearly instantaneously via the oxygen exchange in the lungs.

In the cases that smoking CBD isn't accessible to you, capsules, gummies, or oils are excellent options, but it may take up to 45 minutes to feel its effects.

Another factor to consider is the extract type of your product.

Full spectrum CBD extract is regarded as the gold star for CBD to support a wide range of lifestyle needs because the range of cannabinoids and terpenes work together to increase CBD effects. If you need an option that is 100% THC-free, then broad spectrum extracts are the next best option.

That being said, THC, in small amounts, may help support some of the effects of drinking too much alcohol like nausea and vomiting—but it can be difficult to find the right balance between and it's not always suitable for many people. 

CBD, Alcohol Addiction, & Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms (AWS) occur in people who have developed a dependency on alcohol from chronic alcohol abuse and then suddenly stop drinking.

Alcohol dependence may bring on a combination of physical and emotional symptoms from depression, nausea, and fatigue to more severe symptoms, including hallucinations and seizures. It's extremely dangerous for people with a severe dependency to stop drinking alcohol cold-turkey—It can be life-threatening.

Please seek advice from your licensed health care professional to support you if you believe you have an alcohol addiction. Treating alcohol addiction should be conducted under the care of a professional, and you shouldn't self-prescribe even safe substances like CBD to address alcohol dependence.

There are anecdotal cases you can find on the web of people using CBD to support their alcohol withdrawals. While it may be okay for some people to use, we strongly advise you to speak with a professional to consult on your case, as there isn't enough scientific literature to support its use for alcohol withdrawals [11]. 

The Takeaway: Mixing CBD And Alcohol

For most people, mixing alcohol and CBD shouldn't be an issue—as long as the drinking and CBD doses are moderately low.

CBD and alcohol can induce relaxation and lower inhibitions, which is why many people gravitate towards these substances.

In some cases of mixing CBD with alcohol, you may experience amplifying effects, especially relaxation. However, some interesting research also suggests that CBD may reduce blood alcohol levels and diminish some of the oxidative damage and inflammation caused by drinking.

More clinical data is needed as far as science can tell us about the effects of mixing CBD and alcohol.

While many people swear by CBD's health benefits and effectiveness as a perfect hangover cure, most of the evidence to support it for alcohol withdrawal is anecdotal.

If you're suffering from alcohol abuse, we strongly recommend seeking advice from your doctor to support you in coming off of alcohol safely. Alcohol abuse is a serious disease and some of the consequences of alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be life-threatening.

For more articles like this regarding how you can safely use CBD to support a healthy lifestyle, be sure to check out our blog.

Resources:

  1. Lee, M., Regu, M., & Seleshe, S. (2015). Uniqueness of Ethiopian traditional alcoholic beverage of plant origin, tella. Journal of Ethnic Foods, 2(3), 110-114.
  2. Abbey, A., Smith, M. J., & Scott, R. O. (1993). The relationship between reasons for drinking alcohol and alcohol consumption: An interactional approach. Addictive behaviors, 18(6), 659-670.
  3. Dasgupta, A. (2011). The science of drinking: how alcohol affects your body and mind. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  4. Doll, R., Peto, R., Hall, E., Wheatley, K., & Gray, R. (1994). Mortality in relation to consumption of alcohol: 13 years' observations on male British doctors. Bmj, 309(6959), 911-918.
  5. Rey, A. A., Purrio, M., Viveros, M. P., & Lutz, B. (2012). Biphasic effects of cannabinoids in anxiety responses: CB1 and GABA B receptors in the balance of GABAergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37(12), 2624-2634.
  6. Russo, E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245.
  7. Consroe, P., Carlini, E. A., Zwicker, A. P., & Lacerda, L. A. (1979). Interaction of cannabidiol and alcohol in humans. Psychopharmacology, 66(1), 45-50.
  8. Harper, K. M., Knapp, D. J., Criswell, H. E., & Breese, G. R. (2018). Vasopressin and alcohol: a multifaceted relationship. Psychopharmacology, 235(12), 3363-3379.
  9. Meents, J. E., Hoffmann, J., Chaplan, S. R., Neeb, L., Schuh-Hofer, S., Wickenden, A., & Reuter, U. (2015). Two TRPV1 receptor antagonists are effective in two different experimental models of migraine. The journal of headache and pain, 16(1), 1-10.
  10. Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1411-1422.
  11. De Ternay, J., Naassila, M., Nourredine, M., Louvet, A., Bailly, F., Sescousse, G., ... & 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.
  12. Liput, D. J., Hammell, D. C., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Nixon, K. (2013). Transdermal delivery of cannabidiol attenuates binge alcohol-induced neurodegeneration in a rodent model of an alcohol use disorder. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 111, 120-127.
  13. De Ternay, J., Naassila, M., Nourredine, M., Louvet, A., Bailly, F., Sescousse, G., ... & 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.

Interested in Learning More?

Get in Touch with a Product Specialist

Contact us