The relationship between alcohol and CBD

Most people enjoy a drink or two over the festive period, but if you’re considering more than that you may want to think again!

For some time now we’ve been led to believe that a few glasses of wine a week was actually beneficial. But a new study (which has informed new recommended drinking limits in Canada of no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per week) has found that consuming three to six drinks a week can significantly increase the risk of developing certain cancers, such as breast cancer or colon cancer. More than seven drinks per week were found to increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

With this in mind, and to help you keep your body happy this Christmas and beyond, we thought we’d explore the question ‘is CBD good for stopping drinking’? Does CBD stop alcohol cravings? And what happens when you mix alcohol and CBD?

Is CBD good for stopping drinking? 

Maybe you took part in Sober October and want to continue steering clear of alcohol. Perhaps you’re keen to reduce your drinking over Christmas or in general. Either way, it’s possible that taking a regular dose of CBD could help you do that.

The therapeutic use of cannabidiol (CBD) for alcohol use disorder is something that has been studied numerous times by some of the world’s leading cannabinoid researchers. While more work is needed to fully determine the full potential of CBD for this purpose (particularly in humans rather than animal models), some studies have concluded that CBD “could directly reduce alcohol drinking in subjects with AUD”. Researchers have found exciting results both in curbing cravings, and in mitigating some of the physical damage caused by alcohol consumption.

One stand-out piece of research in this area peer reviewed 26 studies spanning 44 years to explore the effect CBD had on animals who had been administered ethanol via a ‘self-serve’ push lever. Overall, the results showed test subjects reduced alcohol consumption and were also less likely to relapse when treated with regular doses of CBD, even under stress.

Does CBD stop alcohol cravings?

CBD supplements should not be relied upon to treat alcoholism. However, many people do say that taking CBD helps them reach their goals with greater ease.  

We know that CBD supports the endocannabinoid system, and activates serotonin and dopamine receptors (among other mechanisms). All of these actions trigger the release of vital neurotransmitters, which are known to play a role in multiple aspects of alcoholism (and attaining sobriety).

Researchers at the University of North Carolina have been exploring the hypothesis that ‘alcohol exposure modifies function in brain regions critical for regulation of emotion, and that these changes underlie the persistent alterations in behaviour’.

Their paper, published in the ‘National Institutes of Health’, found that serotonin (or lack there-of) appears to be involved in the development of alcoholism by contributing to cravings, relapses, increased anxiety-like behaviour and dysphoria.

Dopamine is also believed to play an important role in alcohol use disorder as, when drinking heavily, the brain becomes overloaded with dopamine. When you stop drinking, these levels plummet leading to feelings of sadness and depression, which can lead to a vicious cycle of being faced with the urge to drink for emotional relief.

Raising (or better still, balancing) serotonin and dopamine levels may change all this.

What happens when mix alcohol and CBD?

While some people choose to abstain from alcohol completely, others strive to have a healthy relationship with it. It’s key to talk about both during alcohol awareness week!

If the latter resonates with you, you may be wondering what happens when you mix alcohol with CBD. After all, you may be taking CBD regularly already, or you may have seen that there are now some alcoholic products that actually contain CBD available to buy.

First of all, it’s perfectly safe to take CBD with alcohol. Second of all, it’s possible you might find that by doing so, your hangovers aren’t quite so bad!

One 2013 study published in the journal of Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behaviour found that CBD appears to reduce neurodegeneration caused by drinking. Another 2014 study published in the journal of Free Radical Biology and Medicine also indicated that CBD protects the liver by inhibiting oxidative stress and increasing the destruction of damaged cells.

With Christmas fast-approaching many of us are planning on giving ourselves the well-earned treat of indulging in plenty of food and drink. By also treating yourself to some CBD, or even gifting it to your loved ones, you might find the price you pay for doing so isn’t so extreme.

Can CBD drinks replace alcohol?

CBD does not produce the same effect as alcohol, nor does it give the user any sense of euphoria, like THC does. So, if you’re swapping alcohol for CBD, don’t expect any kind of buzz.

That being said, many people do enjoy CBD drinks or CBD vapes as an alternative to drinking alcohol, and find that doing so is calming enough to act as a social lubricant.

As CBD supports the release and build-up of your own bliss molecule, anandamide (an endocannabinoid, produced by the body), stress levels will naturally decrease. At the same time, CBD activates your serotonin receptors for higher levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that is well known for elevating mood.

This party season, take some time to educate yourself and others on safe alcohol consumption. Hopefully, if you feel you could do with cutting back, taking regular doses of a high quality CBD product, like those we offer here at Lady A, will help you feel confident in doing that.