Over the last few years, cannabidiol, or CBD, has grown from a niche good into one of the most widely used natural treatments for a variety of ailments and conditions.
According to data from the Cannabis Trades Association, more than 250,000 people in the UK have used CBD, with usage growing fast. It’s safe to say that CBD — one viewed merely as an unimportant byproduct of the hemp plant — is very much here to stay.
To capitalise on this rapid increase in popularity, an increasing number of brands have launched their own CBD-infused products. Today, you can buy CBD-infused food, energy drinks and even a growing range of CBD-infused beers and liquors.
All of this leads towards one question: is it safe to use CBD with alcohol? Below, we’ve looked at the current scientific research into CBD and alcohol to let you know whether or not it’s safe, as well as what you can do to use CBD responsibly.
CBD: The Basics
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a type of cannabinoid that’s found in the hemp plant. Although it sounds similar to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects, meaning it won’t make you feel high after you consume it.
Instead, it’s linked to improvements in the symptoms of certain illnesses and conditions. Several common uses of CBD include treating anxiety, reducing the symptoms of stress and preventing insomnia from disrupting sleep.
Many people also use CBD for pain relief, often after an injury or in order to treat ongoing pain from a disease or health condition.
Although CBD is most commonly consumed as CBD oil, it’s also available in e-liquid, capsule and edible forms. We stock a large range of oils, edibles and other high quality, trusted CBD products in our shop.
Is it Safe to Use CBD With Alcohol?
Because CBD has only been widely available for a short period of time, there’s very little high quality research into how CBD and alcohol can affect the body when used together.
Consuming alcohol, particularly in significant amounts, can affect your perception, inhibitions, motor skills and self control. Because of this, people who consume alcohol are restricted from driving and engaging in certain other activities until they’re sober.
Studies have found that significant impairment of cognition and motor skills starts to begin at a relatively low blood alcohol content (BAC). For example, a study of drunk driving found that an alcohol level of 0.04% BAC was associated with “degraded performance”.
Drinking even modest amounts of alcohol is also associated with reduced inhibitions, a relaxed feeling and short-term changes in cognitive function. Alcohol is also widely used, although not recommended by health professionals, for its effects as a form of temporary pain relief.
Finally, alcohol can make people feel tired and sleepy. When consumed in excess, it’s far from uncommon for people to fall asleep after drinking beer, wine, spirits or other drinks that contain alcohol, often followed by a hangover the next morning.
While very little research has been carried out on the effects of alcohol and CBD together, the two substances share some common effects. For example, CBD is also linked to reductions in stress and improved feelings of relaxation.
It’s also linked to reduced feelings of pain, particularly in people with chronic pain from ongoing health conditions such as arthritis. Like alcohol, many people use CBD oil to improve the quality of their sleep, albeit typically without an alcohol-like hangover the next morning.
Because of this, researchers and health professionals have several concerns about the use of CBD and alcohol together.
If you use CBD and consume alcohol, it’s possible that the combination of the two substances could increase the severity of their effects. This means that you might potentially feel a greater level of relaxation and sedation than you normally would after using CBD or alcohol alone.
Although CBD typically isn’t linked to impaired motor skills, using it in combination with alcohol could impair your physical abilities.
For example, one study of the effects of CBD and alcohol involved giving people a 200mg dose of CBD, as well as a 1 gram dose of alcohol, per kilogram of bodyweight. After consuming CBD and alcohol, the participants experienced “significant impairments” in motor performance.
The participants also had impaired psychomotor (cognitive/physical function). Interestingly, the researchers concluded that CBD had “inactive” effects on motor and mental performance even when used in combination with alcohol.
This study also used an extremely high dose of CBD (200mg per kilogram of weight), which is far beyond even the heaviest CBD user’s typical consumption.
In general, although there’s little research on the specific effects of CBD and alcohol when used together, using CBD and significant amounts of alcohol isn’t recommended. Simply put, the risk of physical and cognitive impairment is too high due to the substances’ shared effects.
Put simply, it’s not a good idea to get drunk after you’ve used CBD oil or any other products that contain CBD. Since the two substances have common effects on the body, it’s possible that you could feel more drunk than normal even after drinking a moderate amount.
With this said, research doesn’t seem to indicate that drinking a small amount of wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages after using CBD is a significant health risk. As such, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any negative effects if you enjoy a glass of wine or two after using CBD.
CBD and Alcohol’s Side Effects
Although everyone is familiar with the direct effects of alcohol, far fewer people are familiar with the potential side effects that can occur after consuming alcohol.
Long-term use of alcohol is linked to a variety of potential health conditions, including damage to the liver, several forms of cancer and pancreatitis. Alcohol is also linked to damage to brain cells, which can affect cognitive performance and quality of life.
This occurs because of damage to certain cells in the body triggered by alcohol consumption, particularly excessive consumption of alcohol. Although research is still ongoing, some study data indicates that CBD could help to mitigate or reverse this damage.
For example, in a 2013 study, researchers found that use of a CBD product helped to reduce the severity of damage to brain cells caused by alcohol. While this study wasn’t performed on humans, it could indicate that CBD has protective effects on some types of cells.
There’s also research that shows that CBD could help to reduce levels of inflammation in the body, potentially limiting the damage associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
CBD may also be helpful for people recovering from alcohol addiction. Studies of CBD have shown that it can help to make some symptoms of drug addiction, including withdrawal from addictive substances, less severe.
For example, a 2015 study concluded that CBD “has several therapeutic properties […] that could indirectly be useful in the treatment of addiction disorders.”
Is it Safe to Use CBD With Alcohol?
As we mentioned above, it’s never a good idea to drink excessive amounts of beer, wine or other beverages that contain alcohol. Being drunk, especially very drunk, isn’t good for your body. Over the long term, it can lead to a range of significant negative health outcomes.
Currently, scientific study data on the effects of CBD and alcohol together is limited. However, since the two substances share several common effects, it’s not recommended to drink large amounts of alcohol after using CBD oil or other products that contain CBD.
With this said, consuming a small to moderate amount of alcohol, such as a serving or two of wine or beer, after you use CBD oil isn’t likely to have any significant negative effects on your health and wellbeing.
As always, it’s important to be careful when consuming alcohol, especially if you’ve also used CBD. Drink responsibly and limit your consumption to an amount of alcohol that you can safely consume without feeling overly intoxicated or unwell.
Finally, if you’ve consumed alcohol with or without CBD, make sure you don’t operate a car or other motor vehicle while you’re under the influence.