This Is What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and CBD
With CBD rising in popularity, it seems people are mixing it with everything, alcohol included. Los Angeles’ bar scene is spilling over with CBD cocktail offerings, and breweries are selling CBD-infused beer. But is mixing CBD and alcohol actually a good idea?
For those who don’t know, cannabidiol [CBD] is a compound in weed with relaxant effects, but it’s not psychoactive in the way that THC is, so it won’t get you high. It’s sold as oil, in edibles, capsules, vape juice, and, apparently, alcohol.
Even if you’re not slapping the two together in a drink, CBD and alcohol can interact if you take them within four to eight hours of each other, says James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center. This means that if you have a drink with dinner then take CBD dab before bed, the CBD could have a stronger effect than it would without the alcohol.
Since alcohol and CBD both relax you and lower your inhibitions, these effects could be especially strong and long-lasting when you mix the two substances. “On CBD, you’re very chill, very lighthearted, mellow. The alcohol will make that more intense,” Giordano says. “For some people, it makes them very, very sedated.” For this reason, he doesn’t recommend the combination.
“Like anything else, as doses increase of either or both, you get yourself more into a problem,” he explains. “The more you drink, the more CBD you’re taking, you get a potentiated effect that’s greater than the effect of either alone. The level of intoxication is going to be greater: greater loss of control, inhibition, motor coordination, and that becomes problematic.”
The effect this combination will have on you depends on what kind of drunk you are, though. “If you’re a happy drunk, then CBD could make you a happier drunk,” Giordano says. “If you’re an angry or violent drunk, the CBD may certainly disinhibit some of that.”
But there could actually be benefits to taking CBD with alcohol, suggests Soyona Rafatja, a New York-based functional and integrative family medicine physician. One study in the journal Psychopharmacology found that people who had alcohol and a CBD capsule had lower blood alcohol levels than those who had alcohol alone, though they experienced the same impairments in cognition and motor coordination. Another study in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior found that rodents experienced less alcohol-induced neurodegeneration if they received CBD through a topical gel while the alcohol was administered.
More research from Free Radical Biology & Medicine showed that rodents that ingested CBD 30 minutes before ingesting alcohol were less likely to experience alcohol-induced oxidative damage in the liver than those that didn’t have the CBD. While they’re just animal studies, experts think they’re quite telling. “Alcohol decreases autophagy [degradation of damaged cells] in the liver, causing fat to accumulate in the liver and therefore cause fatty liver, inflammation, and hepatitis,” Rafatjah explains. CBD does the opposite, spurring damaged cells to degenerate, which can counteract alcohol’s effects.
Jordan Tishler, president of the medical cannabis practice InhaleMD and the Association of Cannabis Specialists, on the other hand, says there isn’t enough research to prove any interaction between alcohol and CBD. He’s more concerned about people mixing alcohol with THC—this, he says, increases THC levels in the blood eightfold.
So, the jury’s still out on the effects of combining alcohol and CBD, and experts can’t even seem to agree. If you’re going to take CBD and alcohol together, Giordano recommends at least keeping the doses low and trying both on their own first so you know how you react to them. “People who don’t drink or do CBD regularly, if they drink and do CBD together, good luck—that’s really going to be unpredictable,” he says. “If there’s any prediction at all, that prediction is, that person’s going to be pretty stoned.”
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What Happens If You Mix CBD and Alcohol?
Cannabidiol (CBD) has recently taken the health and wellness world by storm, popping up among the legions of products sold at supplement shops and natural health stores.
You can find CBD-infused oils, body creams, lip balms, bath soaks, protein bars, and more.
Alcohol manufacturers have even jumped on the bandwagon by producing CBD-infused shots, beers, and other alcoholic beverages.
However, many people have questioned the safety of combining alcohol and CBD.
This article reviews the effects of mixing CBD and alcohol.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant.
Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive properties or cause the high that’s often associated with marijuana use ( 1 ).
CBD oil is extracted from the cannabis plant and then mixed with a carrier oil, such as coconut, palm, olive, or hemp seed oil.
In recent years, CBD has gained widespread popularity and is now available in a variety of different forms, including sprays, capsules, food products, tinctures, and shots.
Promising research suggests that CBD may offer a variety of health benefits, including aiding pain management, reducing anxiety, and improving skin health ( 2 , 3 , 4 ).
CBD is a compound extracted from the cannabis plant. It’s used to produce supplements in a variety of different forms. Research suggests CBD may reduce pain, decrease anxiety, and promote skin health.
Alcohol is known for its ability to reduce inhibitions and promote feelings of relaxation ( 5 , 6 ).
CBD can have similar effects on your body. Research has shown it can reduce anxiety and calm your nerves ( 3 , 7 ).
For example, one study in 72 people showed that taking 25–75 mg of CBD daily for just one month reduced anxiety and improved sleep quality ( 8 ).
Taking alcohol and CBD together could amplify these effects, potentially causing symptoms like increased sleepiness and sedation.
Some also claim that mixing CBD and alcohol can intensify each other’s effects, resulting in changes in mood and behavior.
In fact, one small study looked at the effects of giving participants 200 mg of CBD alongside 1 gram of alcohol for every 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight.
It observed that combining alcohol with CBD caused significant impairments in motor performance and alterations in the perception of time. Participants did not experience these effects when they took CBD on its own ( 9 ).
Nonetheless, this study is outdated and used a much higher amount of CBD than most people typically use.
Unfortunately, there is very little research on the health effects of taking CBD with alcohol.
CBD and alcohol both promote feelings of calmness and relaxation. Taking them together may amplify these effects. Yet, more research is needed to determine how the two can affect your mood and behavior.
Not much is known about the effects of mixing CBD and alcohol.
However, promising research shows that CBD may protect against some of alcohol’s negative effects.
Here are a few ways CBD may impact the effects of alcohol.
May prevent cell damage and disease
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause damage to cells, increasing the risk of inflammation and chronic diseases such as pancreatitis, liver disease, and certain types of cancer ( 10 ).
Several animal studies have observed that CBD may protect against cell damage caused by alcohol consumption.
For example, one study in rats showed that applying CBD gel to the skin decreased brain-cell damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption by up to 49% ( 11 ).
Another study concluded that injecting mice with CBD helped protect against alcohol-induced fatty liver disease by increasing autophagy, a process that promotes the turnover of new cells and leads to tissue regeneration ( 12 ).
One study has shown that CBD-rich cannabis extracts can cause liver toxicity in mice. However, some of the mice in that study had been gavaged, or force-fed, with extremely large amounts of the cannabis extract (13).
It’s unclear whether CBD has any of these same effects in humans. More studies are needed to know whether CBD can prevent alcohol-induced cell damage in humans.
May reduce blood alcohol levels
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your blood. A higher BAC generally correlates with a greater loss of motor control and cognitive function ( 14 ).
There is little research on CBD’s effects on blood alcohol levels.
However, one study in 10 people found that when participants took 200 mg of CBD with alcohol, they had significantly lower blood alcohol levels than when they consumed alcohol with a placebo ( 9 ).
Keep in mind that this study was conducted in the 1970s and used a very large dose of CBD — nearly 5–10 times higher than what is recommended for most people. It’s unclear whether normal doses of CBD would have this effect.
Additionally, other studies have noted conflicting findings. Several animal studies have reported that CBD did not reduce blood alcohol concentration when it was given to animals alongside alcohol ( 15 , 16 ).
Therefore, more research is needed to determine how CBD may affect blood alcohol levels in humans.
May be therapeutic for alcohol addiction
Some researchers believe that CBD could help treat alcohol use disorder.
This is because some animal studies have shown that CBD can help reduce several symptoms of addiction and withdrawal ( 17 , 18 ).
In fact, one recent study looked at the effects of CBD in alcohol-addicted rats. It found that CBD helped reduce alcohol intake, prevented relapse, and decreased motivation to consume alcohol ( 15 ).
Research in humans is limited. Nevertheless, one study in 24 smokers found that using a CBD inhaler for one week reduced cigarette use by 40%. These results suggest CBD could help curb addictive behaviors ( 19 ).
More high-quality studies are needed to determine whether CBD may help with alcohol addiction in humans.
Animal studies show that CBD may reduce liver and brain-cell damage caused by alcohol. It may also help decrease blood alcohol levels and even help treat alcohol use disorder, though more research is needed.
There is currently not enough research to determine the effects of mixing CBD and alcohol.
Several studies in both humans and animals have found that CBD may reduce some of alcohol’s side effects.
However, there’s limited research on whether taking CBD and alcohol together causes adverse health effects.
What’s more, the effects of CBD vary by individual, so it’s difficult to determine whether mixing CBD and alcohol would affect all people in a similar way.
Additionally, most of the current research focuses on the effects of consuming very high amounts of alcohol with CBD, rather than the effects of consuming a few drinks here and there with CBD.
Thus, not as much is known about the effects of moderate or occasional consumption. For this reason, it’s not advisable to take CBD and alcohol together, especially if you’re unsure how either will affect you.
If you decide to mix CBD and alcohol, stick to low amounts of both to minimize the risk of adverse side effects. Make sure to consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
Because research on the safety of CBD and alcohol is limited, it’s not advisable to take the two together. If you decide to mix CBD and alcohol, stick to low amounts of both to minimize your risk.
CBD and alcohol may amplify each other’s effects, and taking both together in high doses may cause sleepiness and sedation.
However, many human and animal studies show that CBD protects against alcohol-induced cell damage and reduces blood alcohol concentration and addiction and withdrawal symptoms.
One study on mice showed that CBD can increase the risk of liver toxicity. However, some the mice had received high amounts of CBD.
Unfortunately, most of the existing research focuses on animals receiving high amounts of both CBD and alcohol. Not enough research examines the effects of moderate doses in humans.
Until more research is available, it remains unclear whether CBD and alcohol can be combined safely.
Is CBD Legal?Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
CBD-infused alcoholic beverages have recently appeared on the market, causing some to question the safety of combining CBD and alcohol. This article reviews the effects of mixing CBD and alcohol.