CBD and alcohol

Wondering if you should mix cannabidiol (CBD) and alcohol? After all, there now is a trend among some craft breweries to infuse their beer with CBD.  Since CBD is already popular in gummies and a number of other edibles, including it in beer provides yet another way to consume it.

However, CBD in beer raises the question about whether CBD and alcohol should be used in combination. (This question is in addition to the issues that the sale of CBD-infused food and drink still is dependent on federal and laws and must be approved by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Trade Bureau (TTB). [1])

Understand How CBD Affects Your Body

To understand what happens when you mix alcohol and CBD, you first need to understand what is CBD and how it affects your body. CBD is one of the over 60 cannabinoids or naturally - occurring chemicals found in industrial hemp and marijuana. Cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is made up of endocannabinoids or neurotransmitters that send chemical messages between neurons, the cells that transmit nerve impulses.  

 The ECS stimulates and controls many of the body’s functions, such as sleep, memory, appetite and immune response. ECS acts to restore homeostasis or balance whenever something happens with those body functions. The ECS has CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.  When CBD interacts with these receptors, it can help the body achieve homeostasis.

CBD and Alcohol May Amplify Effects of Each Other

As it currently stands, there has only been limited research to determine the health effects of combining CBD and alcohol.[2] However, CBD and alcohol may amplify each other’s effects – positively and negatively - in the following ways:

Relaxation

Alcohol can promote feelings of relaxation. Research also has shown that similarly CBD can reduce anxiety and calm nerves. [3]

Sleepiness

Sleep is another area where alcohol and CBD may amplify the effects of each other.  Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant causing brain activity to slow down, and this, in turn, can induce not only feeling of relaxation but sleepiness. However, the consumption of alcohol – especially in excess – has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration. [4] Some research on CBD and sleep indicates that CBD may interact with specific receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to affect the sleep/wake cycle.  So, you may feel excessive sleepiness after taking CBD and alcohol. Therefore, while CBD and alcohol may be a way to induce sleep; the combination also may cause fatigue and drowsiness when you don’t want it.

Reduce Blood Pressure

Both CBD and alcohol are considered vasodilators. This means they cause the blood vessels to relax and widen. Therefore, when you combine the two, the effects compound, which causes an even greater reduction in blood pressure levels. If the effect is too strong, your pressure can drop, making it more difficult for your heart to push enough blood and oxygen to your brain. You can become dizzy or lightheaded and even faint if your pressure is too low. [5]

CBD May Protect Against Alcohol’s Side Effects

While there is no evidence that CBD can cure or prevent a hangover, it may be able to reduce some of its side effects. CBD’s pain-relieving properties may be able to help the headaches and muscle aches caused by alcohol. And CBD has been shown in research with animal models to reduce nausea and vomiting.[6]

We also know that excessive alcohol consumption can cause cell damage, increasing the risk of inflammation and chronic diseases such as liver disease, pancreatitis and certain cancers. Some animal studies have observed that CBD may protect against cell damaged caused by alcohol consumption. [7] One study found that applying CBD gel to the skin of animal models decreased brain-cell damage by nearly 49 percent. [8]

Overall, it seems the effects of mixing alcohol and CBD are mixed and dependent on the individual. You may experience more drowsiness from mixing the two. But at the same time, you may not experience the headaches that follow drinking too much alcohol by taking CBD.  Without sufficient research, you cannot draw a definitive conclusion. Because of this, expert sources generally advise against mixing the two until there is more research.  If you decide to mix the two, it is advised to take low amounts to minimize any negative side effects.[9] Also, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider if you have concerns.

 

[1] “Hemp and Hops: The Rising Popularity of CBD Beer,” CBD School, Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.cbdschool.com/what-is-cbd-beer/
[2] “What Happens If You Mix CBD and Alcohol?” Healthline, Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-and-alcohol
[3] IBID
[4] Avhinav Singh, Dr., “Alcohol and Sleep,” Sleep Foundation, “September 4, 2020. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/alcohol-and-sleep
[5] Cooke, Justin, “This is What Happens When You Mix CBD and Alcohol,” DailyCBD, November 19, 2020. https://dailycbd.com/en/alcohol-interactions/
[6] Parker LA, Rock EM, Limebeer CL. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163(7):1411-1422. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165951/
[7] “What Happens If You Mix CBD and Alcohol?” Healthline
[8] Liput DJ, Hammell DC, Stinchcomb AL, Nixon K. Transdermal delivery of cannabidiol attenuates binge alcohol-induced neurodegeneration in a rodent model of an alcohol use disorder. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2013 Oct;111:120-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2013.08.013. Epub 2013 Sep 5. Erratum in: Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2014 Nov;126:187-8. PMID: 24012796; PMCID: PMC4096899. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24012796/
[9] What Happens If You Mix CBD and Alcohol?” Healthline