By now you’ve probably heard of CBD. In fact, we’d be shocked if you haven’t – it’s been absolutely everywhere! People take CBD for all sorts of reasons: to feel more relaxed, get relief from chronic pain, or even help protect against cancer.
But, can you mix CBD and alcohol?
The truth is there hasn’t been much research done in this area. However, there is some evidence that CBD and alcohol are generally safe when taken together, though there are some caveats.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the possible effects of combining CBD and alcohol.
Obviously, CBD and alcohol both help you relax. Alcohol is classified as a nervous system depressant – this means it slows down brain activity, which is why you feel all free and loose after a glass or two.
When paired with CBD, however, this effect might be even stronger.
One of the few studies looking at how alcohol and CBD interact in the human body dates all the way back to 1979. Published in the journal Psychopharmacology, this study gave participants one 200 mg CBD capsule and 1 g of alcohol per kilogram of body weight.1
It found that those who had taken the CBD plus alcohol showed motor impairment and warped time perception – basically, they became drunk.
The fact that CBD and alcohol work together to make you feel more uninhibited could be viewed as a good or a bad thing. Release from stress and tension is great, but you’ll also be more inebriated and therefore more likely to make poor decisions.
So, if you do decide to try combining CBD and alcohol, make sure you’re safe at home. You should also use lower amounts of each than you would if you were taking them independently – caution is important here.
The 1979 study also found that those who drank alcohol and took CBD had lower blood alcohol levels than those who had only drunk alcohol. This suggests that CBD may reduce a person’s blood alcohol content.
What’s the significance of blood alcohol content? Well, the higher a person’s blood alcohol content, the more “drunk” they are.
So, CBD may help you retain cognitive abilities as you become drunk. You would be drunk, but less “under the influence.”
However, this finding should be taken with a grain of salt. That’s because more recent studies (for example, one performed in 2018 with animals) have shown that CBD does not have a noticeable effect on blood alcohol content.2
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It also seems to contradict the idea (from the same study) that CBD combined with alcohol makes a person drunker than a person who’s drinking alcohol on its own.
Basically, the jury’s still out on this one. Still, you should probably exercise caution when taking two different substances that both depress the CNS.
It goes without saying that too much alcohol consumption comes with many negative effects: liver disease, death of brain cells, heart problems, etc.
But what if CBD could actually reduce these effects?
Studies seem to suggest it can.
One study performed in 2013 looked at rats who had neurological issues related to alcohol intake. The researchers applied CBD gel to the skin of these rats and found that their cellular brain damage was reduced by an amazing 49%.3
If the same applies to humans (and there’s little reason to think it wouldn’t) this information is huge. As opposed to the idea that CBD lowers blood alcohol content, the assertion that it protects against the negative effects of alcohol is more firmly grounded and something to get excited about.
However, it’s still not solid. Even if it becomes solid, it doesn’t mean you can drink as much as you want without any health consequences (it would be nice but it’s just not realistic), so don’t take it that way!
Another area where CBD may make alcohol more “palatable” is by reducing the likelihood of a person becoming addicted to alcohol, or even helping those who already are addicted.
A 2018 study showed that rats addicted to alcohol had less motivation to drink alcohol after they had been treated with CBD.5
The fact may be that CBD helps with addiction in general. Another study from 2013 showed that participants who took CBD smoke 40 % fewer cigarettes than those who hadn’t taken CBD.6
It seems clear that CBD can be useful as an adjunct to alcohol withdrawal, such as that experienced by people hoping to quit. One study showed alcohol withdrawal symptoms were more tolerable for people also taking CBD.7
The answer is it seems to be safe, but we just don’t know for sure. If all the above is true, you basically get the good of alcohol without the bad – CBD may even help with hangovers (especially headaches)!
The indications that CBD could protect the liver, as well as be used as a treatment for alcoholism, are very promising indeed
However, more research needs to be performed before we can with 100 % certainty that the interactions between CBD and alcohol are only positive.
For now, enjoy that CBD martini at your own risk. You’ll probably be ok but, obviously, make sure you’re not driving!
1Consroe, 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
2Viudez-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
3Liput, 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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2013.08.013
4Yang, L., Rozenfeld, R., Wu, D., Devi, L. A., Zhang, Z., & Cederbaum, A. (2014). Cannabidiol protects liver from binge alcohol-induced steatosis by mechanisms including inhibition of oxidative stress and increase in autophagy. Free radical biology & medicine, 68, 260–267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2013.12.026
5Gonzalez-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
6Morgan, C. J., Das, R. K., Joye, A., Curran, H. V., & Kamboj, S. K. (2013). Cannabidiol reduces cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers: preliminary findings. Addictive behaviors, 38(9), 2433–2436. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.03.011
7Turna, 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
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