Alcohol isn’t the only (or best) way to take the edge off. CBD and alcohol are used for similar effects, but create much different outcomes. CBD can help relax your nervous system and focus on what you need, especially when paired with quality active ingredients like L-theanine. Weed and alcohol aren't always the most graceful pairing. But CBD, which is non-psychoactive compound, might be different. Learn about CBD and alcohol. Alcohol and CBD affect your body in different ways. Learn more about each product and what happens when they're mixed here.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT USING CBD AND ALCOHOL
Winding down for the evening with a glass of wine isn’t anything new. Women have been doing it for generations. Because you earned it , right? Now, many women are introducing CBD (cannabidiol) into their wellness routines for better sleep, sex, and stress relief.
As cannabis products become more mainstream, we’re realizing alcohol isn’t the only (or best) way to take the edge off. CBD and alcohol are used for similar effects, but create much different outcomes.
How CBD Interacts With Your Body
CBD will work and interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, a system in your body that plays a big role in appetite, sleep patterns, and overall mood. Many people who take CBD report that it produces calming, relaxing, and soothing results.
CBD is a naturally occurring part of the cannabis plant. Unlike its cousin THC, which is known for its psychoactive effect that gives that “high,” CBD is a nonpsychoactive compound. Therefore, CBD will not give you the “high” that THC does.
So instead of getting you high, CBD can help relax your nervous system and focus on what you need, especially when paired with quality active ingredients like L-theanine.
How alcohol impacts sleep
Alcohol isn’t all bad. Moderate alcohol use does have its health benefits , including reduced risk of heart disease, ischemic stroke, and possibly reduced risk of diabetes. But routinely consuming alcohol has been shown to damage your REM cycles of sleep, causing you to fail to get the deep sleep your body needs and craves.
So why are 20% of Americans using alcohol to help fall asleep at night? When it comes to your sleep, quality and quantity both matter. Instead of reaching for your nightly pinot grigio, try reaching for some CBD oil infused with melatonin instead.
Combining CBD and alcohol
TL;DR: It’s safe to consume CBD and alcohol together. In fact, CBD can slow down the process of neurodegeneration , a negative side effect of heavy alcohol consumption or binge-drinking.
While research is still catching up to understand these effects, there are dozens that show a positive relationship between CBD and alcohol, with CBD lessening the impacts of a night of drinking.
You can take CBD and still enjoy a drink or two socially or with dinner. Unlike with THC, the properties that come with CBD aren’t psychoactive. This means you won’t face any unwanted “cross-buzzing” symptoms.
How CBD works
In general, CBD acts as a subtle, pleasant compound that provides relaxing and calming effects. Alcohol is considered a depressant. Both provide relaxing benefits, but only one is long-lasting (spoiler: it’s CBD).
Change up your nighttime routine
Chances are you have woken up in the middle of the night post-drinking wondering if you will be able to get back to sleep that night. Whereas alcohol only temporarily makes you feel sleepy (thanks, sugar), CBD has a long-lasting, extended-release impact on your body. It also won’t leave you with any intrusive headaches the next morning.
Ladies: drink if you enjoy it. There is no shame here. However, reconsider using alcohol for bedtime. There are better options that won’t make you groggy and hungover.
If you are trying to improve your sleep or need help falling asleep each night, the House of Wise Sleep drops and Sleep gummies are packed with calming ingredients like melatonin and full-spectrum CBD for a full-night’s rest and groggy-less mornings.
Get in the mood for sex
Yes, those tequila shots might help unwind and clear your mind for getting frisky. But you feel like complete crap later. Unlike alcohol, CBD oil works with natural ingredients that elicit desire without the bad effects.
CBD can also be used in efforts to increase libido . If you ask us, an unforgettable night is better than a blacked-out night.
Breaking the stigma
There is a heavy stigma attached to cannabis usage, including CBD, even though CBD doesn’t get you high. However, daily alcohol used is embraced, encouraged, and baked into our routines.
House of Wise was founded on the premise that CBD is worth celebrating. It’s okay to get a little help from natural substances that make life a tad easier. Alcohol is not doing that for us.
The mindful drinking movement
It’s not weird or uncool to stop drinking alcohol. In fact, you’re in good company. Many people are moving toward the idea of mindful drinking, which means being aware of how much you are drinking and the impact it is having.
One of the best ways to wellness routine is to ditch regular alcohol use. It’s not doing you any favors, and the emerging normalization of CBD provides a better alternative. So we dare you: ditch that bottle of red for a box of CBD gummies. You can even make a mocktail using CBD drops.
What *Really* Happens When You Mix CBD And Alcohol?
As cannabidiol creeps its way in everything, including bracelets and pillows, it was bound to make its way into booze. CBD and alcohol is most definitely a thing.
And it’s not just finding a little excitement. In fact, CBD infused beer and cocktails are taking the world by storm, with craft breweries and bars leading the charge in bringing this exciting new ingredient to the front.
The Cannabis Crossfade
As many of us learned in high school or college, weed and alcohol aren’t always the most graceful pairing.
The effects of alcohol mixed with the THC in marijuana creates an effect lovingly referred to as a “crossfade.” Also known the next morning as a killer, one-two punch hangover.
But CBD, the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, which is more and more being looked at for its potential effects on stress, occasional aches and pains, and rest, is a whole different story. CBD and alcohol might actually make sense.*
What Exactly Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound naturally found in the cannabis plant; think of it as the non-psychoactive cousin to THC. CBD can’t get you “high.”
Instead, when ingested or smoked, CBD gets to work on your body’s endocannabinoid system in a more subtle way. (The endocannabinoid system is in charge of regulating sleep patterns, appetite and general mood). Generally, people describe CBD as having a sedative effect; producing relaxing and calming results.
It’s important to note that our bodies already produce cannabinoids in its regulation of emotion and sleep. Ingesting CBD can stimulate cannabinoid production, producing more for the body and aiding in that regulation. In addition to triggering the release of cannabinoids, CBD is also being studied for its effect on the nervous system, specifically on how it may intercept the transmission of pain signals in the body. If that wasn’t all, studies are also looking at CBD and its effect on hormones and enzymes related to digestive health and cognitive function.
Why combine CBD and alcohol? Should you?
Because there is no euphoric, psychoactive “high” associated with CBD the way there is with THC marijuana, the immediate effects are subtle.
Simply put, if you’re enjoying a few drinks this weekend and want to know if you can still take CBD, rest assured that there are limited compounded risks.
So what will happen?
Remember that CBD may have a sedative-like effect. Some people report feeling calmer after a dose of CBD. Alcohol is also a depressant, usually helping take the edge off. When combining them, you’re likely going to see an enhanced feeling of that relaxation.
Rest assured that there are limited compounded risks.
CBD is also used to support a healthy, happy mood. Even if you’re not interested in CBD for its many holistic properties, adding a dose of CBD to your next cocktail could have some immediate benefits for a night of drinking.
And then there’s the negative effects of alcohol, like the neurodegeneration associated with alcohol. In a 2013 study in the journal of Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, researchers actually found that CBD “attenuates binge alcohol-induced neurodegeneration.” In other words, it reduced the effect of that neurodegeneration. (Note, this study was limited and on a rodent model!)
Studies combing alcohol and CBD don’t stop there.
Another 2014 study published in the journal of Free Radical Biology and Medicine found that “Cannabidiol protects [the] liver” from binge drinking, specifically by inhibiting oxidative stress and the increase in autophagy (destruction of damaged or redundant cells).
That could mean less stress on the body long-term, and even less intense hangovers the next day. In general, studies seem to show a growing consensus that CBD and alcohol don’t interact negatively, and if anything the CBD helps, or at worst case, there are “few differences” when combined. More studies are needed, but the science points in the right direction.
The Skinny On CBD Cocktails
Don’t mistake these studies as a green light to guzzle as many CBD cocktails as you can handle. CBD is still not approved by the FDA to be added to food or beverages, let alone alcohol.
But if you’re trying it out, as with anything, moderation is key.
If you’re taking CBD for medical reasons (or you’re taking other medications) be sure to check in with your doc before combining CBD and alcohol. This should go without saying.
Remember, having the right CBD cocktail recipe is key (don’t worry, we have a few). And if you have any doubts, stick to a CBD mocktail or a good ol’ fashioned mug of Brothers CBD Tea.)
*The Apothecary LLC are not doctors and we do not provide medical advice. None of the information on this site, including information in any press release or blog post, constitutes legal or medical advice by us.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.
CBD And Alcohol: What Happens When You Mix Them?
Lenore Cangeloso is a board-certified acupuncturist and herbal medicine practitioner based in Oregon.
Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the Forbes Health Advisory Board.
Table of Contents
- CBD and Alcohol in the Body
- What Can Happen When You Mix CBD and Alcohol?
- CBD as a Potential Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
- Is It Safe to Consume CBD and Alcohol Together?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a popular compound found in hemp plants that can potentially help alleviate anxiety, improve sleep and relieve pain, along with other purported benefits. In a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll, 60% of respondents said they’ve tried a CBD product, and 64% think CBD is safer than alcohol.
CBD can be derived from both hemp and cannabis sativa plants, the latter of which also contains detectable amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9 THC). Delta-9 THC is the main component of cannabis that causes intoxicatingly psychoactive effects.
Research regarding what happens when humans consume CBD and alcohol together is sparse. As a result, consumers generally have access to limited information when deciding whether to mix CBD and alcohol.
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CBD and Alcohol in the Body
Alcohol and CBD affect your body in different ways, although consuming either substance can result in similar effects, such as sleepiness or sedation.
When you drink alcohol, it enters your bloodstream quickly, and its effects can occur within ten minutes. Alcohol affects the way your brain functions, potentially impairing coordination and your ability to think clearly and altering both mood and behavior.
Depending on the amount you consume, alcohol can affect your speech, memory and judgment. Drinking alcohol can also affect your balance, raising the risk of falls and other injuries.
Unlike alcohol, CBD doesn’t contain intoxicating properties. Instead, CBD interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which comprises receptors throughout your body—particularly the central nervous system—to produce a variety of potential effects, including:
- A calming of the central nervous system
- A reduction in anxiety symptoms
- Improvement in sleep quality
- A decrease in chronic pain symptoms
With that said, some of the effects can be less desirable, including:
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What Can Happen When You Mix CBD and Alcohol?
With limited research available on potential interactions between alcohol and CBD, the effects of mixing the two substances is unclear. Potential interactions are also subject to variables, such as how much of each you consume and the amount of THC present in the CBD product, says John Mendelson, M.D., chief medical officer and founder of San Francisco-based Ria Health, which offers a medicine-based approach to drinking moderation and alcohol abstinence.
Depending on the amount, THC may interact with alcohol when you drink, says Dr. Mendelson. However, not enough research exists to know how THC in CBD products may interact with alcohol.
“The 0.3% THC allowed in hemp-derived CBD products can go up to amounts in the final product that may cause an interaction,” says Eloise Theisen, a nurse practitioner and the chief nursing officer at Leaf411, an online consumer resource on how to use cannabis safely and effectively. “We see levels of 1 to 4 milligrams of THC in some concentrated hemp CBD products.”
THC amounts in CBD are limited by the federal Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill of 2018) to 0.3% by dry weight to avoid being classified as cannabis, a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. THC levels are often listed on a CBD product’s certificate of analysis (COA), which is typically made available on the manufacturer’s website.
However, CBD products are not regulated by the FDA, so you’re relying on the manufacturer’s claims and third-party laboratory test results to determine amounts of THC present in specific CBD products. Only Epidiolex, a prescription drug used to treat certain types of seizure disorders, has been approved by the FDA.
Ideally, it’s best to buy CBD that contains the lowest amount of THC to avoid alcohol and THC interactions, says Dr. Mendelson. When choosing a CBD product, check the label and the lot number’s COA to find the amount of THC present in the product.
“Dose will be the most important thing,” says Dr. Mendelson. “If someone stays within the recommended alcohol consumption amounts of one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men and a small dose of CBD at the manufacturer’s recommended level, there should be no significant reactions one way or another.”
Potential Harmful Effects of Using CBD and Alcohol Together
“I strongly advise my patients against consuming alcohol and cannabis together, whether it’s CBD or THC, since you can feel a stronger effect from both when using alcohol,” says Theisen.
Side effects depend on several factors, including the amount of alcohol, the CBD dose and the amount of THC present in the CBD product. Combining alcohol and CBD may cause drowsiness, impaired coordination and, in rare cases, vomiting, says Theisen.
Combining CBD and alcohol could also potentially increase the effects of the alcohol, causing the person to feel drunk or impaired faster, says Theisen.
“If someone took CBD in the morning to help with their anxiety and wanted to have a drink or two in the evening, that [combination] hasn’t been shown to be problematic,” says Theisen. “Taking them concurrently is where I get concerned because of potential side effects—whether from the alcohol or even the CBD.”
CBD as a Potential Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
So far, studies on CBD use with the goal of reducing alcohol cravings and relapses are based mainly on responses or interactions in rodents rather than humans, says Theisen.
“That doesn’t mean we haven’t seen some observational case reports where people have been able to use cannabis successfully to reduce their alcohol intake, cravings or relapses,” says Theisen. “However, in terms of actual data, it’s only in animals. But that data is promising.”
One study in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research used rats bred selectively for high alcohol preference and consumption and found that when the rats received a low dose of CBD, the number of times they pushed levers that delivered alcohol decreased  Maccioni P, Bratzu J, Carai M. Reducing Effect of Cannabidiol on Alcohol Self-Administration in Sardinian Alcohol-Preferring Rats. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2020; 7(2):161-169. .
Meanwhile, consuming CBD alone may help alleviate the reasons some people drink, such as anxiety, insomnia, pain and post-traumatic stress, says Theisen.
“When I’m assessing a patient who is drinking a lot of alcohol, I always want to know why that is,” says Theisen. “Is it because they’re anxious? Are they using it to help with their pain or sleep? Sometimes we can reduce their alcohol intake by treating those conditions with CBD instead.”
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Is It Safe to Consume CBD and Alcohol Together?
Moderation is key to safety when consuming both CBD and alcohol, says Dr. Mendelson, who doesn’t recommend mixing the two substances due to the possible side effect of drowsiness, which could create a safety hazard while driving, operating machinery or working with kitchen equipment.
With that said, what little research exists on mixing alcohol and CBD is based mainly on studies of rodents rather than humans. As a result, it’s still unclear whether it’s safe to consume CBD and alcohol together.
Forbes Health covers CBD and cannabis products in accordance with FTC guidelines. Learn more about Forbes Health’s practices and policies regarding how we cover CBD and cannabis as a publisher.