Does CBD Interact With Alcohol?
- A study in the journal Psychopharmacology stated that taking CBD with alcohol resulted in significant impairments of the test subjects’ psychomotor and motor performances(1).
- The researchers also discovered that the effects of mixing CBD with alcohol include lower blood alcohol levels.
- A 2018 study has revealed, however, that while CBD reduced alcohol-induced hypothermia, it did not affect the rodents’ blood alcohol levels(2).
- The United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) warns that individuals who mix CBD with alcohol may experience drowsiness and sedation, which may lead to injuries(3).
- Due to the conflicting and inconclusive reports, it is not recommended to mix CBD products with alcohol.
Can CBD Be Taken With Alcohol?
Research published in the journal Psychopharmacology studied the interaction of cannabidiol (CBD) and alcohol in humans(4).
The authors administered an oral placebo (orange juice and glucose capsule), alcohol in orange juice and glucose capsule, orange juice and CBD capsules (200mg), and alcohol and CBD capsules to the human test subjects.
The study found that the intake of alcohol and alcohol mixed with CBD resulted in significant impairments of the test subjects’ motor and psychomotor performances.
The authors also observed the participants’ overestimation of time production and accurate responses showing their self-perception of their intoxication. These effects were not seen when the participants took CBD alone.
The researchers noted that CBD combined with alcohol resulted in lower blood alcohol levels compared with alcohol administered alone.
Blood alcohol concentration levels refer to the percentage of alcohol in the bloodstream(5).
Meanwhile, animal studies evaluating CBD’s effects on blood alcohol concentration showed a different result.
A 2018 study published in Addiction Biology found that CBD reduced alcohol-induced hypothermia. However, it did not affect blood alcohol concentration in the rodent test subjects(6).
Another study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology was conducted to assess CBD’s effects on rats with a history of alcohol dependence(7).
When the researchers measured the rats’ blood alcohol levels on the final day of alcohol intoxication, they reported that the blood alcohol levels of CBD-treated and alcohol vehicle-treated rats were identical.
According to the US FDA, the use of CBD with alcohol and other substances that slow brain activity may increase the risk of drowsiness and sedation(8).
The agency warns that the sedative effects of CBD and alcohol, when used together, may lead to injuries.
A study found in the journal Behavioral Neurobiology of Alcohol Addiction reported that alcohol produces sedative and stimulant effects in humans.
The researchers concluded that alcohol’s stimulatory effects might be linked with its dopamine-inducing ability(9).
Dopamine is a brain chemical that helps reinforce rewarding behaviors(10).
Meanwhile, the authors were unable to determine the causes of alcohol’s sedative effects. They suggested that individuals with a reduced sedative response to alcoholic drinks might have a higher risk of developing alcohol use disorders.
Similar to alcoholic beverages, CBD may have sedative effects.
According to 2019 findings from The Permanente Journal, high doses of CBD might increase mental sedation(11).
However, the studies on alcohol’s effects on CBD are limited, and further research is warranted.
Can Another Depressant Be a Substitute for Alcohol so That CBD Oil Can Be Taken?
Some depressants, like alprazolam and other benzodiazepines, are metabolized by enzymes from the CYP450 family(12). These enzymes, CYP3A4 in particular, are involved in breaking down several medications that enter the body.
A study published in Life Sciences reported that CBD inhibited the catalytic activity of the CYP3A enzymes(13).
CBD’s inhibition of the enzymes that metabolize benzodiazepines may result in unwanted side effects and even overdosing(14). Hence, using benzodiazepines with CBD is not recommended.
Can CBD Replace Alcohol?
Some individuals may drink alcohol because of its relaxing effects. When blood alcohol levels reach 0.04 to 0.06, alcohol may produce feelings of relaxation and sensations of warmth(15).
However, excessive alcohol consumption may be linked to anxiety disorders.
While some individuals begin drinking alcohol to cope with anxiety, this may lead to alcohol abuse(16).
CBD may be useful for individuals who experience anxiety.
In a study, seventy-two adults were administered CBD for their anxiety and sleep problems(17). Results showed that CBD might have a calming effect in the central nervous system.
The authors observed that CBD reduced the test subjects’ anxiety and improved their sleep.
Another study published in the journal Neurotherapeutics concluded that CBD might have health benefits and anxiety-reducing properties that could be useful in treating several anxiety disorders(18).
Alcohol has short-term effects, like lowered inhibitions, trouble concentrating, and loss of coordination(19).
Long-term effects of alcohol use may lead to steatosis (fatty liver disease), trouble learning, loss of attention span, and heart problems, such as stroke(20).
Compared with alcohol, CBD has a more favorable safety profile(21). Its side effects include tiredness, changes in weight or appetite, and diarrhea.
Therefore, CBD may be a safer alternative for individuals who use alcohol to cope with their anxiety.
CBD and Alcohol-Related Damages
A study published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior reported that CBD reduced binge drinking-induced neurodegeneration in rodent test subjects(22).
The authors administered CBD gel to the rats and concluded that CBD had neuroprotective effects on the mice.
Another study found in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine reported that CBD protected the liver of the mice test subjects from alcohol-induced steatosis. The authors observed that these liver-protective effects were caused by CBD’s ability to inhibit oxidative stress and increase autophagy(23).
Autophagy is the body’s mechanism that clears damaged proteins and organelles and removes unnecessary components to allow the rejuvenation of new tissues and cells(24).
A 2017 study suggested that CBD might be promising in treating liver diseases related to alcohol use(25). The researchers reported that CBD significantly reduced liver inflammation, oxidative stress, and fatty liver symptoms in mice subjected to chronic and binge alcohol feeding.
A study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics outlined CBD’s neuroprotective and antioxidant properties in mice models(26). The authors found that CBD reduced the loss of neurons (brain cells) in the brain’s hippocampus and entorhinal cortex.
CBD and Hangovers
CBD may help treat some symptoms associated with hangovers.
Hangovers occur when blood alcohol content in an individual’s system drops significantly(27).
Hangover symptoms include:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Excessive thirst
- Dry mouth
- Body aches (headaches and muscles)
- Vomiting or stomach pain
- Poor sleep quality
- Sensitivity to lights and sounds
- Excessive dizziness
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood disturbances (anxiety, irritability, and depression)
- Rapid heartbeat
Another study stated that CBD suppressed nausea and vomiting in rat test subjects(29). The researchers also outlined how targeting the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) may produce these antiemetic (nausea-reducing) effects.
The ECS is responsible for several essential functions, such as pain perception, mood, appetite, and memory(30).
Another study has found that CBD had antidepressant and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects on animal models(31).
CBD may also offer relief for body aches.
A study revealed that CBD mixed with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) offered relief from chronic pain(32).
THC is the psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant. CBD is also extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant. However, it does not have mind-altering effects, unlike THC.
CBD and Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal occurs when an individual who has prolonged alcohol use, such as those with alcohol substance abuse disorders, suddenly stops drinking(33).
Initial symptoms include tremors, vomiting, irritability, an increase in blood pressure, and insomnia. Alcohol hallucinations, withdrawal seizures, and, in more severe cases, delirium tremens may occur(34).
Delirium tremens is characterized by dangerous changes in breathing, blood circulation, and temperature control.
CBD may help with the initial symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
A 2017 study found in JCI Insight stated that a single dose of CBD reduced the blood pressure of healthy volunteers(35).
A systematic review in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology suggested that a dosage of 160mg of CBD daily increased the total amount of sleep time and decreased the number of awakenings of participants who had insomnia(36).
Beyond CBD tinctures (drops) and the conventional CBD oil format, manufacturers combine CBD with supplements, cosmetics, and food.
Recently, more CBD companies are experimenting with CBD-infused cocktails and alcoholic beverages, like CBD-infused beer.
The US congress has expressed concern about the proliferation of CBD products. Congress has called on the FDA to provide marketing guidelines on CBD food, drinks, and dietary supplements(37).
The FDA also reminds the public that scientific evidence supporting or disproving CBD’s efficacy in treating these medical conditions is limited.
Due to the inconclusive evidence of how alcohol interacts with CBD, CBD-infused alcoholic beverages should be consumed cautiously.
CBD alcohol alternatives may include non-alcoholic beverages mixed with unflavored CBD oil. This CBD preparation may also help mask the naturally grassy taste of CBD.
Marijuana and Alcohol Use
A study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence evaluated the effects of taking alcohol and marijuana together. Male participants were given different doses of alcohol (placebo, 0.35g of alcohol per kilogram of the test subjects’ body weight, or 0.70g of alcohol per kilogram of the participant’s weight)(38).
These alcohol doses were combined with three marijuana dosages (placebo, low, or moderate doses).
Plasma THC levels and mood changes were observed after 90 minutes of smoking. The researchers found that when the subjects consumed alcohol and marijuana together, THC took effect more quickly.
The participants who took the drug combination of THC and alcohol also exhibited increased episodes of euphoria and had higher plasma THC levels compared to when they consumed placebo alcohol.
The authors suggested that alcohol may increase THC absorption, increasing the positive effects of smoked marijuana on the participant’s mood.
They also concluded that increased euphoria resulting from THC and alcohol might be a significant factor in the popularity of their combined effects.
A 2015 survey evaluated the simultaneous and concurrent (separate) use of alcohol and cannabis in adults 18 years and older(39).
The research found that the simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis was almost twice as high as concurrent use.
The authors also discovered that the simultaneous use of these substances was detrimental to individuals. It can result in doubled odds of drunk driving, social consequences, and self-harm incidences.
Another study in 2019 reported that users who took alcohol and marijuana simultaneously had higher sensation-seeking behaviors than users who took alcohol alone. They are also heavier and more frequent alcohol users compared with alcohol-only drinkers(40).
Marijuana use as a medication is only legal in select states in the US(41).
There is a growing public interest in the interaction between CBD and alcohol, with people becoming curious how long after taking CBD oil can they drink alcohol.
However, there is a lack of evidence on CBD’s effects on alcohol. Some studies have even presented conflicting reports.
There are several research materials on CBD’s purported benefits on the side effects of alcohol. These alcohol-related conditions include damages to the brain and the liver.
Evidence has shown that CBD may help with hepatic function and prevention of neurodegeneration. Research suggests that CBD may help with hangovers and alcohol withdrawal because of its promising health benefits, including its suggested antiemetic properties.
There has also been a proliferation of CBD-infused products. CBD beer and CBD cocktails are gaining popularity.
Still, the FDA warns that mixing CBD with alcohol may result in sedation and drowsiness.
Potential CBD alcohol substitutes may involve mixing CBD with non-alcoholic beverages, such as “mocktails” (fruit juices or soft drinks that try to mimic cocktails).
Individuals may use unflavored CBD oil or tinctures and mix these with any drink of their choice.
However, before using any CBD product, individuals should seek professional medical advice.
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