CBD and Alcohol: What You Need to Know

Written by Laura Komkov
Scientifically Reviewed by Kyle Hammerick, PhD
July 6, 2019
Fact Checked

CBD is popping up everywhere—tinctures, creams, lip balms, makeup, bath bombs, sunscreen, and now food and drink. With CBD appearing not only in shops, but also in restaurants, coffee shops and bars throughout the country, you’re likely wondering if CBD is safe to mix with other substances like alcohol.

If this is your first foray into CBD research, here’s a quick overview. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in the cannabis plant that interacts with a system in our bodies and has been found to promote a sense of calm or balance. Unlike its more famous sibling THC, CBD will not get you high. But just because it doesn’t get you high, does that make it safer to mix CBD with alcohol?

One interesting finding that will hopefully be researched more in-depth is the possibility that CBD can reduce some of the damaging effects of alcohol.

Throughout the country, bars are experimenting with adding CBD to cocktails, beer and food, even though the FDA prohibits adding CBD to food or drink. New York City is about to crackdown on this regulation, banning the sale of CBD-infused consumables starting July 1st. Most who sell CBD consumables were hoping that the rapidly rising consumer demand would convince the FDA to change their tune on this matter, but to-date that hasn’t happened, leaving consumers and retailers even more confused.

If you’re interested in giving CBD infused cocktails a try (and who wouldn’t be when people like George Czonska, owner and bartender at Adriaen Block in NYC, describe the effect of CBD cocktails as, “It gives you a different kind of ‘buzz’ for a relaxed state of mind”?) here’s a primer on what we know about how the two interact:

Can you take CBD while drinking?

The short answer is that we don’t really know much about how CBD and alcohol interact. CBD was classified in the United States as a Schedule I substance until the Farm Bill passed in late 2018, so there hasn’t been much opportunity for in-depth research on CBD to-date. The few studies that do exist around using CBD while drinking do not seem to indicate any major side effects associated with mixing the two substances.

In fact, one study found that CBD might actually lower blood alcohol concentrations (although it did not seem to impact the level of impairment at all). However, this study was conducted in the 1970s and used a higher dose of CBD than one would typically take. As more studies are done, we’ll begin to learn more about how CBD interacts with our bodies and with other substances that we ingest.

What are the effects of mixing CBD and alcohol?

Some studies have found that, since alcohol and CBD are both used at times to reduce tension, the combination can potentially amplify the effect and cause feelings of increased sleepiness. Additionally, most studies have found that CBD does not lessen the effects of alcohol when taken together (you won’t necessarily look less drunk by taking CBD with alcohol).

One interesting finding that will hopefully be researched more in-depth is the possibility that CBD can reduce some of the damaging effects of alcohol. Several studies in animals have shown a variety of possible benefits including decreased brain-cell damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption and protection against alcohol-induced fatty liver disease.

More research is needed to understand whether CBD can help protect against some of alcohol’s negative effects in humans.

Does alcohol affect CBD oil or CBD cream differently?

If you do plan to drink alcohol while using CBD, keep in mind that both CBD oils/tinctures and topicals/creams result in CBD within the blood stream. This means that either of these methods of using CBD would interact with the consumption of alcohol, although, again, we don’t know much about how they truly interact.

You won’t necessarily look less drunk by taking CBD with alcohol.

In summary, the jury is still out on whether CBD and alcohol impact each other. If you are going to take CBD while drinking alcohol, the general consensus is that you should try each on its own first so that you understand how you react to both. Then, if you do choose to mix CBD and alcohol, be mindful of how you’re feeling, stick to lower doses, and listen to your body.


health
alcohol
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Sources

  • www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/06/24/cbd-infused-food-beverages-are-still-illegal-under-us-law-so-why-are-they-everywhere/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ea8f6cd65560
  • www.foodandwine.com/cocktails-spirits/cbd-cocktails
  • www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/
  • www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/120541
  • www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-and-alcohol#interaction
  • www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-and-alcohol#cbd-mitigating-alcohol

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