What is a Hangover?
Most people understand that a hangover is often the unintended consequence of too many drinks, but they may not understand how or why hangovers happen.
When you drink, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises in response to the amount you are drinking. Once your drinking slows or stops, your BAC begins to decrease 1 Davies, B. T., & Bowen, C. K. (1999). Estimation of Peak Blood Alcohol Concentration in Research and Highway Safety. Annual Proceedings / Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, 43, 251–264. .
Symptoms of a hangover begin as your BAC decreases, with the hangover peaking when your BAC returns to zero. Those symptoms can last for up to 24 hours and might include headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, dizziness, nausea, cognitive impairment, and mood changes 2 Verster, J. C., Stephens, R., Penning, R., Rohsenow, D., McGeary, J., Levy, D., McKinney, A., Finnigan, F., Piasecki, T. M., Adan, A., Batty, G. D., Fliervoet, L. A., Heffernan, T., Howland, J., Kim, D. J., Kruisselbrink, L. D., Ling, J., McGregor, N., Murphy, R. J., van Nuland, M., … Alcohol Hangover Research Group (2010). The alcohol hangover research group consensus statement on best practice in alcohol hangover research. Current drug abuse reviews, 3(2), 116–126. https://doi.org/10.2174/1874473711003020116 .
There are several contributing factors to a hangover. Drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration and is also linked to disrupted sleep 3, 4 ROBERTS KE. Mechanism of Dehydration Following Alcohol Ingestion. Arch Intern Med. 1963;112(2):154–157. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03860020052002 . Then there is the known gastrointestinal irritation and inflammation associated with alcohol consumption. Combine all that with acetaldehyde, a toxic compound released by the liver in response to metabolizing alcohol, alongside the minor withdrawals that can occur after even just occasional drinking, and the resulting symptoms start to make a lot of sense 5 Hangovers. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/hangovers .
While science has yet to identify a tried and true hangover cure, most people rely on rest, NSAIDs, and hydration to stave off the worst of their symptoms. What people may not realize, however, is that some NSAIDs can actually be dangerous to take following a hangover. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), for instance, has been found to have increased toxicity on the liver when taken while also metabolizing alcohol 6 Girre C, Hispard E, Palombo S, N’Guyen C, Dally S. Increased metabolism of acetaminophen in chronically alcoholic patients. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1993;17(1):170-173. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.1993.tb00743.x .
Getting through a hangover often just comes down to time—allowing your body to recuperate as your BAC returns to normal. Of course, when people have jobs to go to and lives to live, waiting that hangover out may not seem like a viable option, which is why you might be wondering about the potential for a CBD hangover cure.
CBD for Hangover: What Does the Research Say?
As of now, there is not any research explicitly looking into the impacts of CBD on a hangover. But there is plenty of research to suggest CBD could at least help with hangover symptom relief.
“CBD 7 Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1411–1422. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x . Additionally, as you’re suffering from hangover aches and pains, you might be interested to know that CBD can successfully treat pain without the same side effects as NSAIDs 8 Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245–259. https://doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s1928 . In fact, CBD has been shown to improve brain and liver function rather than harm it 9 Avraham, Y., Grigoriadis, N., Poutahidis, T., Vorobiev, L., Magen, I., Ilan, Y., Mechoulam, R., & Berry, E. (2011). Cannabidiol improves brain and liver function in a fulminant hepatic failure-induced model of hepatic encephalopathy in mice. British journal of pharmacology, 162(7), 1650–1658. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01179.x .
Recent studies have also looked into the role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in migraines, suggesting CBD could offer potential benefits there—which might be good news if your head is pounding after a night of drinking 10 Leimuranta, P., Khiroug, L., & Giniatullin, R. (2018). Emerging Role of (Endo)Cannabinoids in Migraine. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 420. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.00420 .
You may not realize that alcohol use can contribute to inflammation throughout your body. In fact, many of the hangover symptoms you experience are likely even a result of inflammation 11 Wang, H. J., Zakhari, S., & Jung, M. K. (2010). Alcohol, inflammation, and gut-liver-brain interactions in tissue damage and disease development. World journal of gastroenterology, 16(11), 1304–1313. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v16.i11.1304 . CBD can be a powerful anti-inflammatory, though, and also helps to balance the immune system, which tends to struggle after you have consumed alcohol 12, 13 Booz G. W. (2011). Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. Free radical biology & medicine, 51(5), 1054–1061. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.01.007 .
It’s also worth noting that CBD has shown potential in research settings for helping to treat Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) 14 De Ternay, J., Naassila, M., Nourredine, M., Louvet, A., Bailly, F., Sescousse, G., Maurage, P., Cottencin, O., Carrieri, P. M., & Rolland, B. (2019). Therapeutic Prospects of Cannabidiol for Alcohol Use Disorder and Alcohol-Related Damages on the Liver and the Brain. Frontiers in pharmacology, 10, 627. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2019.00627 . While one night of partying does not mean you have a drinking problem, it could be a reason to reflect upon your drinking habits and consider whether you may or may not need help. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has an AUD Identification Test (AUDIT) you can complete to assess your drinking habits. If you determine you may have a problem, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hotline can help you figure out next steps.
Ready to use CBD for a Hangover?
Whether you’re currently nursing a wicked hangover, or you’re just planning ahead for the weekend, you might be curious about the best way to use CBD for hangover relief.
You may even be at the bar right now, considering the new CBD cocktail featured prominently on the drink menu. Which begs the question: when is the best time of day to take CBD?
To be clear, there are plenty of reasons to consider taking CBD on a daily basis (from help with anxiety and depression to achieving better sleep) 15 Corroon, J., & Phillips, J. A. (2018). A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 3(1), 152–161. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0006 . There’s even a small study from the 1970s that suggests taking CBD with alcohol can reduce your BAC 16 Consroe P, Carlini EA, Zwicker AP, Lacerda LA. Interaction of cannabidiol and alcohol in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1979;66(1):45-50. doi:10.1007/BF00431988 . Unfortunately, there’s not enough research to be able to definitively say that combining CBD and alcohol is safe. There may even be reason to be concerned about CBD increasing some of the impairments experienced with alcohol intoxication 16 Consroe P, Carlini EA, Zwicker AP, Lacerda LA. Interaction of cannabidiol and alcohol in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1979;66(1):45-50. doi:10.1007/BF00431988 .
For these reasons, your best bet may be to take CBD the morning you wake up with a hangover. How you consume your CBD at that point doesn’t really matter. Whether you prefer a CBD gummy, or a few drops of CBD oil added to your water or under your tongue, the impact should still be the same.
That said, have you ever given CBD coffee a try? Combining your CBD with a caffeine boost to fight against the hangover fatigue might just be exactly what you need to get yourself out the door and ready to tackle your day. There are even CBD coffee pods available for a quick and easy cup.
Just when you thought CBD couldn’t get any better…
Does CBD give you a hangover?
There’s no reason to worry about a CBD hangover—with its anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, anti-emetic and pain-relieving properties, CBD actually treats many of the symptoms associated with hangovers.
Can I take CBD after alcohol?
There is not a lot of research on the risks and benefits of combining CBD and alcohol, though some research suggests CBD can lower BAC while also possibly increasing the impairment associated with alcohol consumption. For this reason, taking CBD the morning after a night of drinking may be the safest option.
How do you cure a hangover fast?
There are no scientifically identified cures for treating a hangover fast. In most cases, hydration, rest and time are the best ways to get through a hangover. That said, CBD may be able to help reduce the symptoms of a hangover, making it easier to get through that waiting period.
Does CBD kill your high?
A 2019 study actually suggests CBD may help enhance the high experienced by THC users 17 Solowij N, Broyd S, Greenwood LM, et al. A randomised controlled trial of vaporised Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol alone and in combination in frequent and infrequent cannabis users: acute intoxication effects. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2019;269(1):17-35. doi:10.1007/s00406-019-00978-2 .