With CBD rising in popularity, it seems people are mixing it with everything, alcohol included. But is mixing CBD and alcohol actually a good idea?
For those who don’t know, cannabidiol [CBD] is a compound in cannabis 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.
Here are some interesting tidbits about alcohol and CBD:
The CB1 receptor is a significant player in the reinforcing and motivating attributes of alcohol. [S]
Combining alcohol and CBD results in significantly lower blood levels of alcohol. [S]
CBD reduces the reinforcement, motivation and relapse for alcohol. [S]
CBD protects the liver from damage done by binge-drinking alcohol. [S]
CBD prevents against alcohol-induced neurodegeneration. [S]
CBD attenuates alcohol-induced liver steatosis, metabolic dysregulation, inflammation and neutrophil-mediated injury. [S]
Cannabinoids have an effect on nearly all enzymes responsible for metabolizing alcohol. [S]
CB1 receptor agonists (THC) encourage alcohol consumption, while CB1 receptor antagonists (CBD) decrease it. [S]
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.
What we can conclude from this research through articles, is that CBD is still on the fence when it comes to interactions with our favorite drink of choice. CBD is showing signs of being helpful before and after our night out. So to our friends who are enjoying an occasional social drink, drink slowly. Our night out partiers, please choose wisely, the combination can have you leaving the party early for an early bedtime.