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The Effects of CBD and Alcohol

In recent years, CBD has emerged from the shadows to occupy a prime spot in Americans' medicine cabinets. As its popularity has surged, so has the variety of CBD-infused products on the market—from oils to producing CBD-infused shots. Interestingly, while CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound distinct from delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol—the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana—it's finding its way into the hands of many looking to mix it with another age-old indulgence: alcohol. This confluence isn't without basis.


In a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll, a significant 60% admitted to trying a CBD product. Furthermore, an impressive 64% believe CBD poses fewer risks than alcohol.


Yet, as the trend of combining alcohol and CBD becomes more widespread, it prompts the question: what effects does this cocktail of choice bring to the table?



Beer and CBD


First, we need to establish that this does not apply to CBD as it doesn't contain any THC, which is the psychoactive compound in Marijuana that makes you “high”. What you hear all around you is that cannabis is a miracle plant, comes primarily from the contributions of CBD! Anti-inflammatory effects, natural pain relief, treats anxiety & depression, epilepsy & seizures, nausea, vomiting and eating disorders, and the list goes on. If you're interested in further reading how CBD treats these issues, our eBook Easy CBD The Ultimate Australian Guide to Cannabidiol has everything you need to know. 


Now, why are THC and alcohol not good to mix? It's because alcohol increases your body's ability to absorb THC. Resulting in an intense high you might not be comfortable with, and to others, the effects are so adverse it's nicknamed - "Green out". It refers to the symptoms many experience when mixing THC and alcohol, which can cause dizziness, nausea, sweating and vomiting. 


Download CBD eBook

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is a natural compound derived from the cannabis plant. Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, another compound from the same plant, CBD doesn't produce the "high" typically associated with cannabis.


Instead, CBD has garnered attention for its potential health benefits, including providing relief from anxiety, reducing pain, and offering anti-inflammatory properties.


As such, it's become a sought-after remedy for various ailments, bridging the gap between traditional and alternative medicine.


The Growing Trend of Mixing CBD and Alcohol

The trend of blending CBD with alcohol is gaining momentum. Backed by anecdotal claims and a marked increase in CBD-infused beverages on the market, the public's intrigue in this combination is palpable. Data from the Brightfield Group, a leading consumer insights firm, indicates that the sales of CBD beverages have surged by 40% in the last year alone.


With this upswing, it's evident that people are eager to explore the union of the calming effects of CBD and the sociable nature of alcohol.


Whether consumed for potential therapeutic benefits or simple curiosity, it's undeniable that CBD's inclusion in the realm of alcohol is reshaping contemporary drinking culture.


Potential Amplified Effects of the Mix

When CBD and alcohol are combined, their effects can be amplified. Although they might individually induce relaxation, combining them may cause heightened feelings of drowsiness and sedation.


This can be particularly pronounced when both substances are consumed in higher doses.


It's essential for individuals to be aware of these potential intensified effects, as it could impact their ability to perform activities that require focus and alertness, such as driving or operating machinery.


CBD's Protective Role Against Alcohol's Adverse Effects


1. Cell Damage and Disease Protection

Consuming excessive alcohol can lead to cell damage, increasing the risk of inflammation and chronic diseases like pancreatitis, liver disease, and certain types of cancer.


Some animal studies suggest that CBD may offer protection against cell damage caused by alcohol.


For instance, a study on rats indicated that applying CBD gel to the skin reduced brain-cell damage caused by excessive alcohol by up to 49%. Despite these promising findings, further research is needed to determine if CBD has the same protective effect in humans.


2. CBD's Impact on Blood Alcohol Levels

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) measures the amount of alcohol present in the bloodstream, with higher levels correlating to a greater loss of motor control and cognitive function. There is limited research on how CBD affects BAC.


A study from the 1970s found that participants who took 200 mg of CBD with alcohol had significantly lower BAC than those who consumed alcohol with a placebo.


However, the large CBD dose used in this study (5-10 times higher than typically recommended) means that more research is needed to determine if regular doses of CBD have similar effects.


3. Therapeutic Potential for Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction can have detrimental effects on both individuals and society as a whole. Some animal studies have suggested that CBD may help reduce symptoms of addiction and withdrawal.


In one study, CBD helped reduce alcohol intake in alcohol-addicted rats, prevented relapse, and decreased motivation to consume alcohol.


However, research in humans is limited, and more high-quality studies are needed to determine if CBD could help with alcohol addiction in humans.


The Dangers: Liver Toxicity Concerns

It's important to note the potential risks of combining high doses of CBD and alcohol. While some studies have shown that CBD may help protect against alcohol-induced cell damage, others have shown that high amounts of CBD could cause liver toxicity.


For example, one study found that CBD-rich cannabis extracts could cause liver toxicity in mice. However, it is worth noting that some of the mice in this study had been force-fed large amounts of the cannabis extract.


As with other aspects of CBD and alcohol interactions, more research is needed to determine the effects of regular CBD doses on liver toxicity when combined with alcohol.


What are the Effects of CBD and Alcohol Then?

Mixing alcohol with prescribed CBD is never recommended. Alcohol impairs your motor and psychomotor performance and can interfere with the effects that CBD can have on your body. CBD can make you feel significantly more relaxed, and with alcohol, this feeling is reinforced by sluggishness.


The more you drink, the greater the chance you will lose the ability to handle yourself appropriately. So please, for one night keep that bottle of wine in the cupboard if you've taken your prescribed CBD medication.


Give your body proper rest and let the plant do its magic all by itself.



The Experts Say

In a recent video, Chris Emerson Ph.D. (a cannabis scientist) weighed in on the topic: “There’s a lot of synergy between alcohol and cannabis, so when you mix them you tend to potentiate (sic) the two. So, scientifically, alcohol inhibits one of the enzyme’s not only the exogenous cannabinoids you introduce through smoking or edibles, but also endogenous cannabinoids your body produces.”. Chris is the Chief Scientist at Levels, a California based lab working on cannabis products.

In simple terms, any cannabinoids you put in your system are processed by a protein made by the body. When you ingest alcohol, the alcohol is processed in a way that blocks those proteins from processing the cannabinoids. Essentially, you’ll end up with a more drawn-out “high”. The cannabinoids don’t metabolize as quickly, so they stay in your system longer!

”I would stay away from en edible if this is your first time trying it.” He laughs. Of course, edibles are already processed quite slowly by the liver, so alcohol may only lengthen the experience and cause a fair bit of discomfort for someone mixing the two for the first time. 


However, alcohol and cannabis have completely different effects when it comes to the brain. When cannabis hits your body, the endocannabinoid system is stimulated, in your brain, this means specific receptors are active and the limbic system expresses itself. Usually, this plays out as people feeling happy and docile.


Alcohol will obviously often affect you in a similar way, but in different parts of the brain. More so the base centres like the brain-stem, responsible for alertness and your sleep, and your cerebellum, responsible for your balance. It’s a depressant after all.


“Of course, there’s also a feeling of happiness for some who chronically drink. When you drink alcohol, there’s (actually) certain parts of the brain connected to the memory circuits, that shrink.” Says Neurosurgeon Remi Nader M.


 Experts Say CBD and Alcohol


The New Age: CBD Infused Alcohol

Sketch drinks

Confused? Don't worry, sit back and enjoy the ride of a new era. It all started with CBD infused beer, trickled down to wine and is now making a lasting impression with its use in spirits. This idea of infusing the two started with the successful marriage of beer and CBD. The hops of the beer and cannabis are actually cousins, originating from the same plant family Cannabaceae. 


But since the cannabis plant has historically been considered illegal, hops continued as beer and the cannabis plant stayed in the dark.



The growing popularity of CBD and its increasing presence in Americans’ medicine cabinets has led to a surge of interest in the potential interactions between CBD and other substances, including alcohol. However, the existing research on the effects of mixing CBD and alcohol remains inconclusive and largely based on animal studies.


While some evidence suggests that CBD may have protective effects against alcohol-induced cell damage and may even offer therapeutic potential for alcohol addiction, other research raises concerns about the risks of liver toxicity and the amplified sedative effects when combining CBD and alcohol.


It is essential for individuals to exercise caution and be aware of the potential risks when combining CBD and alcohol. Given the uncertainties surrounding this interaction, it is crucial to consult with healthcare professionals before mixing CBD and alcohol. By taking a cautious approach and seeking expert guidance, individuals can make informed decisions about their health and well-being.



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