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Can You Mix CBD & Alcohol? Here's How They Interact

Can You Mix CBD & Alcohol? Here’s How They Interact

The beverage market is suddenly inundated with alcoholic CBD drinks. From CBD beer to CBD cocktails, these drinks are marketed to look (and taste!) great. But for many of us, they are raising questions as well. How do these two substances act when combined? Can you mix CBD and alcohol? Here’s how they interact and the science behind it. 

Can You Mix CBD & Alcohol? Here's How They Interact alcohol bottles on a bar shelf at a bar

What Is The Difference Between Alcohol & CBD?

Before we discuss the question of mixing CBD and alcohol, it’s important to understand the primary distinctions between CBD oil and alcohol – because they’re two very different substances. 

CBD, for starters, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid extracted from cannabis. All cannabis plants (even hemp) have various components like terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids (like THC and CBD). CBD is very much the cannabinoid du jour, but so far scientists have identified over 100 cannabinoids, each of which has its own benefits.  

Alcohol, on the other hand, is not extracted from a plant. Rather, alcohol is produced when yeasts ferment sugars. It has all kinds of uses, but when it comes to human consumption, alcohol is a psychoactive drug that is classified as a depressant (downbecause it slows vital functions). (1)

What Effects Does Alcohol Have On Your Body?

Somewhere between 7 and 21 million years ago, our primate ancestors evolved to be able to metabolize alcohol. This means that humans have always had the ability to break down the substance, and there’s evidence that humans have been intentionally drinking it for thousands of years. (2) 

It’s not hard to understand why our ancestors began creating alcoholic bevies. When we drink alcohol it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream where it makes its way to the brain. When it’s being taken in moderation, it makes us feel more relaxed and less inhibited. 

Of course, alcohol also quickly impairs our judgment and coordination. At higher levels, it becomes difficult to think and move normally. This is because alcohol slows down the chemicals and pathways the brain uses to control the body. Other effects include dehydration and increased heart rate. (3)

What Effects Does CBD Have On Your Body?

Now let’s look at CBD, keeping in mind that, while scientists have been studying alcohol and its effects for decades, the research on CBD is relatively recent.

What we do know is that CBD is a complex substance and that it acts in our bodies on multiple levels at once. Firstly, it interacts with our endocannabinoid systems (an inter-related system of receptors and chemicals spread throughout our bodies). CBD is non-psychoactive in the sense that it is non-intoxicating, but it does have effects on our brains that are wide-ranging.

For example, there’s good evidence that CBD is anxiolytic, meaning that it has calming benefits. It’s also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory as well as being effective at reducing seizures. (4,5,6)

Like alcohol, some people do find that CBD makes them sleepy, but the research doesn’t support CBD as a sedative (though it does support healthy sleep/wake cycles).

Can You Mix CBD & Alcohol?

Now to the question of mixing CBD and alcohol. If you were to do a quick web search on this question, you might come away with the idea that we have a solid foundation of scientific research on this question. This is not the case. 

We only have a few studies that deal with the issue of mixing CBD oil and alcohol, and of these only one was done on humans. None showed adverse health effects, but because the research is so limited we can’t draw conclusions based on that alone.

Anecdotally, some people say that they find that CBD heightens alcohol’s relaxing or sedating effects (which could be positive or negative depending on what you’re looking for). But there is literally no scientific evidence to back this up. These perceived effects of mixing alcohol and CBD could be the placebo effect – or they may be physiological. There’s just no way to know at this point.

The one human examination on alcohol and CBD was published in 1979 and it did show that taking CBD with alcohol was associated with significantly lower blood alcohol levels.  But the CBD seemed to have little to no effect on the motor or mental performance of the volunteers. It’s also well worth noting that the volunteers took extremely high doses of CBD. (7)

In terms of any possible benefits of mixing alcohol and CBD, a more recent rodent study showed that rodents that took a dose of CBD 30 minutes before taking alcohol showed less liver damage, possibly in part by preventing an increase in oxidative stress (CBD is an antioxidant). (8)

For what it’s worth, there is also a recent preclinical rodent study that showed that CBD may be able to help with alcohol addiction by lowering anxiety and preventing relapse (there are other inquiries that look at CBD’s benefits for other addictions as well). (9)

Can You Mix CBD & Alcohol? Here's How They Interact bartender at bar mixing a cocktail

Safety Issues

CBD has a good safety profile and there’s no scientific evidence that mixing CBD oil and alcohol is a bad idea. However, since the research is so limited on this issue, we can’t say for certain that CBD and alcohol are going to be a great combination for your body. 

Obviously, if you’re pregnant or have other issues that interact negatively with alcohol or CBD then you need to avoid these substances. Otherwise, the effects of alcohol are fairly well-known and CBD’s potential side effects are minor (like dizziness or sleepiness). 

FAQs

How do CBD and alcohol interact?

There’s very little scientific evidence on how CBD oil and alcohol interact. The only human study showed no increase in intoxication when high doses of CBD were mixed with alcohol. (7)Some people do report that CBD increases the sense of relaxation or even sleepiness, but this is anecdotal evidence. The science is still out on this question. 

Can I take CBD with alcohol?

So far there’s no reason to think that mixing CBD and alcohol is dangerous in any way. Of course, like with any substance, you should always be aware of how much you are taking, and pay attention to how it makes you feel. If having CBD with alcohol negatively impacts (or just intensifies) how you feel, you can decide if that is a good thing or if you want to keep the two separate. 

What are the benefits?

There’s good research that CBD offers plenty of benefits for our brains and bodies. It’s anxiolytic (calming), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuro-generative just for starters. There’s even evidence that CBD can help with the cravings associated with alcohol use disorder. (9)

That being said, there doesn’t seem to be a specific benefit to taking CBD oil and alcohol together. As far as we know, there’s no reason not to have an alcoholic CBD beverage, but if you’re looking for some kind of magical synergy between the two substances there’s little documentation that exists. 

Summary

Mixing CBD and alcohol is a fairly recent development, and there isn’t a lot of information yet to illuminate the subject. As far as we know, there’s no downside to mixing CBD and alcohol but there’s no real benefit to taking your CBD with alcohol  (if you prefer to take it separately). Combining the two substances may increase the sedative and relaxing effects – but that claim is based on anecdotal corroborations so should be taken with a grain of salt.

The information provided is for informational purposes only. We do not claim to treat or cure any health ailment or condition. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider before trying any new product. We are not responsible for any adverse reaction(s) you may have to any of the products featured on this site. See our T & C for more information.

Sources
  1. New Scientist. What is alcohol? 2021.
  2. Scitable. How and When Did Humans Start Consuming Alcohol? 2014.
  3. American Addiction Centers. The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body: Physical Effects and Health Risks. 2021.
  4. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 12(4), 825–836.
  5. Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future medicinal chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349.
  6. Pamplona, F. A., da Silva, L. R., & Coan, A. C. (2018). Potential clinical benefits of CBD-rich cannabis extracts over purified CBD in treatment-resistant epilepsy: observational data meta-analysis. Frontiers in neurology, 9, 759.
  7. Consroe, P., Carlini, E. A., Zwicker, A. P., & Lacerda, L. A. (1979). Interaction of cannabidiol and alcohol in humans. Psychopharmacology, 66(1), 45–50.
  8. Yang, L., Rozenfeld, R., Wu, D., Devi, L. A., Zhang, Z., & Cederbaum, A. (2014). Cannabidiol protects liver from binge alcohol-induced steatosis by mechanisms including inhibition of oxidative stress and increase in autophagy. Free radical biology & medicine, 68, 260–267.
  9. Gonzalez-Cuevas, G., Martin-Fardon, R., Kerr, T. M., Stouffer, D. G., Parsons, L. H., Hammell, D. C., Banks, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Weiss, F. (2018). 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, 43(10), 2036–2045.

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