The humble pub is a mainstay of British culture and many find drinking alcohol a sociable way to relax. Whilst having a tipple with friends can help you to unwind, what if you also enjoy taking CBD? How does CBD react with alcohol (if at all) and what is the guidance for the mixing of alcohol and CBD? Here we explore the guidance on using CBD and alcohol at the same time to deepen our commitment to your health and wellbeing, which is at the forefront of everything we do here at EthicaCBD.
The Effects of CBD and Alcohol
First it’s important to look at the effects of both CBD and alcohol on the human body to see how each compares individually.
Alcohol is a substance regularly used by millions of people from all walks of life all around the world. Many drink alcohol to boost their confidence, aid relaxation and to be more sociable. As many of us have experienced the effects of alcohol at some point in our lives, we will no doubt be familiar with the woozy, foggy-head that can occur after consuming too much! It has a profound, almost instant effect on the brain which leads to the tell-tale signs of alcohol intoxication including impulsive behaviour, slurred speech, poor memory, and slowed reflexes.
There are countless variables at play to consider when drinking, such as the type/strength/amount of the alcohol consumed, the size/weight/tolerance of the person, and whether food has been consumed first etc. The list goes on! Alcohol affects nearly every part of the body and can be damaging if consumed excessively or over a long period of time (which can be common due to its addictive nature). Alcohol also affects the immune system and a weak immune system can lead to a variety of illnesses. Depression is a factor to consider with alcohol too and many drinkers experience low mood and anxiety as a result of alcohol consumption.
CBD is a powerful botanical and one of the many cannabinoids found naturally in the hemp plant. It interacts with the receptors inside the body that make up the endocannabinoid system, helping your body to maintain homeostasis and develop positive health and wellbeing. Our clients tell us that relaxation is one of the main reasons they take our CBD products, and reports show that CBD can ease anxiety, aid sleep and enhance your overall well being.
A study in 2018 showed that users of CBD found very few adverse effects in using CBD – in fact the only ones experienced were as a result of misinformation with regards to the concentration of CBD and any other ingredients. The study states “independent research has confirmed that the CBD content in almost 70% of CBD-labelled products available online may be mislabelled”. CBD is generally well-tolerated by most who use it, but it can sometimes affect how the body breaks down some medicines (such as blood thinners) so care should be exercised by those taking some prescribed medications.
Possible Effects of CBD and Alcohol Compared
Alcohol | Short-Term Effects
The effects of alcohol kick in after 30mins and can last around 3 hours (depending on amount consumed and other influencing factors such as body weight and type of alcohol etc). Short term effects include:
- Slurred speech and lack of coordination
- Impulsivity/increased risk taking
- Emotional volatility (sadness, aggressiveness, etc.)
- Blackouts and memory loss
Alcohol | Long-Term Effects
The long term effects of alcohol misuse can be damaging for almost every part of the body. Along with addiction and dependency issues, there are a variety of long-term effects of alcohol to be aware of:
- Liver damage
- Bone thinning
- Stomach distress
- Birth defects
- Sexual dysfunction
CBD | Short-Term Effects
Whilst generally well-tolerated in the majority of users, CBD can have some side effects in users such as:
- Dry mouth
- Decreasing appetite
CBD | Long-Term Effects
Initial research is promising but there is still much to learn about CBD and long-term effects. It may help with some conditions like long-term pain and sleep. One side effect to be aware of is that it can sometimes interact with other medicines such as blood thinners so if you already take medication you should check with your GP before use. This study showed that “CBD did not demonstrate any degree of acute or life-long toxicity or related liabilities at physiological concentrations”
Effects of Taking Alcohol and CBD at the Same Time
Due to variations in dosage, body weights and types of alcohol/CBD product used, reliable studies looking at the effects of mixing alcohol and CBD are limited. Some users claim that mixing alcohol with CBD can amplify the symptoms experienced, with sleepiness and changes in mood stated most commonly as effects felt when mixing alcohol with CBD.
One study concluded that injecting mice with CBD helped protect against alcohol-induced fatty liver disease by promoting the turnover of new cells which leads to the regeneration of tissue. Early research suggests that using CBD alongside alcohol can be beneficial and actually counteract the negative effects of alcohol misuse on the body. Whilst this is a positive indication, it is still unclear whether CBD has any of these same effects in humans and more studies are needed.
Alcohol upsets the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain and has a particular effect on the levels of both serotonin and dopamine (the ‘happy hormones’). This is what gives alcohol its unique way of making you start out feeling positive and uplifted but later becoming more sedative. CBD seems to inhibit the CP450 enzymes responsible for breaking down the alcohol which could allow alcohol to stay in the bloodstream for longer (therefore making you feel happier for longer, too). You should always be mindful of how much alcohol you are consuming, but if using CBD at the same time then you should be extra aware that the effects of each drink may last longer and so you’ll want to pace yourself that much more.
James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center states that CBD and alcohol can interact if you take them within 4-8 hours of each other. With this in mind you must be aware that having a drink with dinner might mean that the effects are amplified if you then take your CBD dropper at bedtime.
CBD use can be very personal to the individual and the effects vary from person to person, and likewise with alcohol. Because of this it is very difficult to determine if using CBD alongside alcohol would affect all people in the same way and so it’s impossible to draw a definitive conclusion.
Can You Mix CBD in a Drink?
CBD is now as commonly acknowledged in the wellness space as any other plant-based nutritional supplement used for health and wellbeing. Using CBD in our food and enjoying CBD-infused drinks enables us to replace elements missing from our diet in a simple and delicious way. Mixologists all over the UK are discovering exciting new ways of incorporating CBD into cocktails and brewers are incorporating CBD into craft beers, as producers explore unique ways of offering people their daily CBD fix.
Whilst it is becoming more popular to try CBD mixed in drinks (according to this market intelligence report the CBD-infused beverages market is expected to reach $1,018.3 million by 2025!), we advise that you observe the usual caution exercised when drinking alcohol, and always ensure that you know the amounts and ratios you are ingesting of both alcohol and CBD. Using cocktail recipes for CBD can be a great way to experiment safely.
Professor David Heal
Scientific Advisor for EthicaCBD
Find out more
Is CBD Healthier than Alcohol?
Examining the health benefits of CBD and alcohol is a tempting comparison, but each substance is so unique (and the effects so dissimilar) that it is a bit like comparing chia seeds with cigarettes!
CBD is a pure plant extract, a food supplement, a herbal health booster that is more effective than anything we’ve experienced from nature before. Reports of the positive effects on both body and mind have made this natural plant extract one of the most celebrated health supplements of recent times. Using a natural supplement like CBD oil can promote well-being when incorporating it into a healthy lifestyle. As we further understand the power of natural remedies to defend and balance our systems, CBD oil steps into the mainstream and becomes a firm fixture in the regimes of wellbeing advocates the world over.
Alcohol is one of the most popular psychoactive substances in the world. It can have powerful effects on your mood and mental state. Some studies have shown that moderate amounts of alcohol can improve health by lowering stress. However once you indulge too much, alcohol can prove to have quite the opposite effect! Despite its legal status, alcohol is highly toxic and its prolonged use can lead to liver disease, alcoholism, depression, weight gain, memory loss, and other serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
CBD and Alcohol: The Verdict
CBD is a safe and non-toxic herbal supplement and reports show that incorporating CBD into your daily routine has the power to reset/correct our feelings of wellbeing. Both CBD and alcohol can produce varying effects that vary wildly from one person to the next. Because of this, it is very difficult to determine if using CBD alongside alcohol would affect all people in the same way. Whilst this makes it impossible to draw a definitive conclusion about using CBD and alcohol together, as with anything, we advise that you carry out your own independent research before trying anything new.
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