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What is CBD (Cannabinoid)?

CBD stands for cannabidiol.1 It is a popular cannabinoid found in cannabis plants (both the hemp plant and the marijuana plant), along with more than 80 other active chemical compounds like delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH).

Unlike TCH, however, CBD does not cause the same euphoric effects or the “high” that is associated with “smoking weed.” Instead, CBD has a number of calming and relaxing effects. It mellows you out without producing a high.2

Here are some quick facts that you should know about CBD:

  • CBD is not marijuana. CBD is a single compound found in hemp and marijuana plants (which are cannabis plants part of the Cannabaceae family). Marijuana is a cannabis plant that is made up of a whole bunch of naturally occurring compounds, including CBD.2
  • In humans, there is no evidence that CBD has the potential to become addictive. There is no evidence of any public health-related concerns associated with pure CBD use.2
  • The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one CBD product. It approved a prescription drug that treats seizures linked to Lennox Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome (DS), or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) for people one year of age and up.2
  • All 50 states have laws that legalize CBD. However, restrictions vary.2
  • It is illegal to market CBD as a dietary supplement. It’s also illegal to market it by adding it to food. That said, the government does not always enforce these laws. CBD is readily available across most of the country. It often comes in the form of oil. But it is also infused in baked goods and gummies, drinks like tea and coffee, and more.2

Benefits of CBD Oil

There are a whole host of benefits of CBD oil tinctures. Here are some of the many advantages to using CBD oil:

  • CBD oil is often used to treat the symptoms of anxiety.8
  • CBD oil is used as a treatment for chronic pain in some patients. For example, studies suggest that CBD can prevent and treat inflammatory and neuropathic pain.8
  • Some studies suggest that CBD oil can help treat insomnia.8
  • Some studies show that CBD is effective in treating childhood epilepsy syndromes, including Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).8
  • Research suggests that CBD oil can help to relieve arthritis symptoms.

CBD oil may also help treat many other health conditions. Because it is a relatively new type of treatment, scientists are still studying the ways in which it can help.

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Potential Side Effects of CBD

As with anything, there are some potential side effects of CBD.8 These include the following:

  • May cause nausea with or without vomiting
  • Because it can help relax you, fatigue can occur
  • May cause irritability
  • May increase your level of the blood thinner coumadin
  • May raise levels of some other medications in your blood
  • May affect how other drugs and medications affect you
  • May cause liver damage
  • May cause gastrointestinal distress (i.e., diarrhea)
  • May affect male fertility
  • May contain other unknown ingredients that can affect you

What Happens if You Mix CBD and Alcohol?

Some researchers believe that CBD can actually be helpful for people struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD).9 In some animal studies, CBD has shown to reduce symptoms associated with addiction and withdrawal. Some research suggests that CBD helps people reduce their alcohol intake, prevents them from relapsing, and keeps them on a healthy track.4

But you have to be careful about taking CBD if you drink alcohol at the same time. Using CBD and drinking alcohol may amplify the effects of both the CBD and the alcohol. Since both CBD and alcoholic beverages are depressants, their symptoms might be extreme if you mix them. You might feel extra relaxed and release your inhibitions.

Research shows that, when you pair alcoholic drinks and CBD, it can lead to significant impairments of motor and psychomotor performances. It can also cause you to overestimate time production. While CBD alone does not produce these effects on your cognitive function, when you mix it with a beer or cocktail, it can.

Is The Mixture Dangerous?

Mixing CBD and alcohol might be dangerous since they can both enhance each other’s symptoms. For example, you put yourself at a greater risk of injury due to impairment if you are feeling extra fatigued from mixing CBD and alcohol. You may also feel less alert, which increases your risk of injury.

That said, there is not enough research on the effects of mixing alcohol and CBD to objectively say whether or not it is dangerous.

Side Effects of Mixing CBD and Alcohol

Again, there is not enough research done on humans to tell the side effects and interactions of mixing CBD and alcohol. All scientists know now is that CBD may be helpful in treating alcohol addiction and withdrawal. But it also shares some similar side effects of alcohol consumption, so you run the risk of amplifying them by mixing the two.

What About CBD Cocktails?

While there are a whole bunch of CBD cocktail recipes cropping up on food and drink blogs, mixing CBD into cocktails is not recommended. There is not enough research to confidently say that it is safe to mix CBD into cocktails.

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Are There Any Benefits of Mixing CBD and Alcohol?

Yes, there are some health benefits of mixing CBD and alcohol. Some studies show that CBD can have positive effects on people who struggle with alcohol abuse.10 CBD has been shown to help people drink less and avoid relapsing after recovery.4

CBD has also been shown to help reduce alcohol-induced hypothermia. There is also some science that suggests CBD may be helpful in lowering one’s blood alcohol level.

CBD and Hangovers 

CBD may be helpful in treating a hangover. Because CBD is known to help treat the symptoms of anxiety, which may come with a hangover, it may be beneficial.

CBD and Alcohol Withdrawal 

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can take a toll on recovering alcoholics. CBD oil may be able to help some of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Because CBD is known to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, for example, it might be able to help.

Some scientific studies suggest that CBD has helped people who are suffering from alcohol withdrawal.

CBD and Alcohol-Induced Cell Damage 

Excessive alcohol misuse can damage cells. This can lead to an increased risk of inflammation and chronic diseases like liver disease, pancreatitis, certain kinds of cancer, and more. But CBD may help protect against cell damage.3

For example, one study on mice found that CBD could help against alcohol-induced fatty liver disease through increasing autophagy.12 Autophagy is the process that promotes the turnover of new cells and allows tissues to regenerate.

Another study on rats found that applying CBD gel to the skin brought alcohol-induced brain-cell damage down by upwards of 49 percent.5

CBD and Reduced Blood Alcohol Concentration 

A study of 10 people found that, when they drank 200 mg of CBD with alcohol, they had significantly lower blood alcohol levels than when they had the alcohol with a placebo.6 While there is not enough data to prove that CBD reduces blood alcohol concentration, some researchers believe that it does.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Addiction

CBD may be helpful for people with alcohol addiction. In fact, CBD has been shown to help treat all different kinds of addictions. It’s even been studied in regards to cigarette addictions.7

Animal studies show that the use of CBD can decrease interest in alcohol, relieve symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and, ultimately, lessen the risk of a relapse.11

While CBD should not be the only treatment used for alcohol addiction, it can help. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse, contact medical help. Alcohol withdrawal effects can be fatal. Stay safe by seeking professional treatment.

Resources

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(1) “Cannabidiol.National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine

(2) Commissioner, Office of the. “What to Know About Products Containing Cannabis and CBD.U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA

(3) Ewing, Laura E., et al. “Hepatotoxicity of a Cannabidiol-Rich Cannabis Extract in the Mouse Model.MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 30 Apr. 2019

(4) Gonzalez-Cuevas, Gustavo, et al. “Unique Treatment Potential of Cannabidiol for the Prevention of Relapse to Drug Use: Preclinical Proof of Principle.Neuropsychopharmacology : Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Springer International Publishing, Sept. 2018

(5) K;, Liput DJ;Hammell DC;Stinchcomb AL;Nixon. “Transdermal Delivery of Cannabidiol Attenuates Binge Alcohol-Induced Neurodegeneration in a Rodent Model of an Alcohol Use Disorder.Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine

(6) LA;, Consroe P;Carlini EA;Zwicker AP;Lacerda. “Interaction of Cannabidiol and Alcohol in Humans.Psychopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine

(7) Morgan CJ;Das RK;Joye A;Curran HV;Kamboj SK; “Cannabidiol Reduces Cigarette Consumption in Tobacco Smokers: Preliminary Findings.Addictive Behaviors, U.S. National Library of Medicine. 

(8) Peter Grinspoon, MD. “Cannabidiol (CBD) - What We Know and What We Don't.Harvard Health Blog, 22 Apr. 2020

(9) Prud'homme, Mélissa, et al. “Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence.Substance Abuse : Research and Treatment, Libertas Academica, 21 May 2015

(10) Turna J;Syan SK;Frey BN;Rush B;Costello MJ;Weiss M;MacKillop J; “Cannabidiol as a Novel Candidate Alcohol Use Disorder Pharmacotherapy: A Systematic Review.Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine

(11) Viudez‐Martínez, Adrián, et al. “Cannabidiol Reduces Ethanol Consumption, Motivation and Relapse in Mice.Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 13 Feb. 2017.

(12) Yang, Lili, et al. “Cannabidiol Protects Liver from Binge Alcohol-Induced Steatosis by Mechanisms Including Inhibition of Oxidative Stress and Increase in Autophagy.Free Radical Biology & Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2014.

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