cbd and hangovers: the ultimate guide
is cbd good for hangovers? one thing is for sure, hangovers suck. we aren’t going to go into a whole spiel describing how they feel because, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably been hungover before. you might also be hungover now, and if you are, no judgment here at all fam (getting older can suck sometimes). either way, you came here with questions about cbd and hangovers, so let’s get you some answers.
there is no medical proof that cbd oil can either cure or prevent a hangover, but it still may be able to provide relief and make your next hangover more bearable. proper hydration, sleep, and nutrition will always be the best ways to help your body recover as it attempts to detoxify.
the human body is always trying to maintain homeostasis. alcohol is a toxin, and its effects alter one’s state of being, which can directly or indirectly contribute to a hangover as the body works to process the substance and remove it from your system. cbd can help regulate the endocannabinoid system, which plays a vital role in homeostasis, and thus could also help reduce the symptoms associated with a hangover.
is cbd good for hangovers?
there are certain areas in which cbd may be able to help with hangovers, and others where it will not. in order to go into further detail, it is important to understand how various alcohol-related effects can be related to cbd and the human body.
you’re probably familiar with some or all of the headaches, nausea, aches and pains that are among the most common symptoms of a hangover, and these symptoms can range from being mildly intrusive to downright debilitating. the effects are delayed, often until the next morning, and could actually be stemming from one or more sources, with each bringing about its own set of contributing circumstances. some of the biggest causes of hangovers are as follows:
- alcohol, blood sugar, and cbd: at first, alcohol consumption causes a spike in your blood sugar, even more so when consuming mixed drinks due to their high sugar content. glucose, a simple sugar (or carbohydrate) that is the main form of energy for your body, circulates through our blood (hence the term, “blood sugar”), and it is regulated by two different hormones known as insulin and glucagon. when your blood sugar levels become too high under normal life circumstances, the pancreas can secrete insulin to lower glucose levels in the body. when you drink alcohol, however, it can inhibit glucose once the body begins to process and break down the alcohol you’ve consumed.
this could also be compounded in a couple of ways: one of the primary means of obtaining glucose is through the foods we eat, and it is common to either not eat while drinking, or eat foods that are lacking in actual sustenance. alcohol may also affect your body’s normal secretion of insulin, further impacting its relationship with (and its ability to regulate) glucose.
while cbd does not have direct properties that will regulate your blood sugar, it can help regulate your endocannabinoid system (ecs). in addition to its other effects, alcohol impacts your ecs, and that might also end up contributing to the symptoms you feel when a hangover is present. because the ecs is involved in homeostatic processes within the body, a better-regulated ecs could facilitate conditions that help the body recover, bringing with it the potential to help with those awful hangover symptoms.
alcohol, dehydration, and cbd: ever heard of the term, “breaking the seal?” alcohol is known as a diuretic, which literally means that it promotes the increased production of urine. once you start drinking, you’re going to have to start peeing; and while you might be able to hold it for a while at the start, you’re certain to have to use the bathroom consistently thereafter.
if you pay attention to the color of your urine to see how hydrated you are, it might be misleading to see clear urine while you have spent some time drinking, especially if you are consuming mixed drinks, beer, soda, or something of the like. you might think your body is well-hydrated when in reality, the simple truth is quite the opposite: you have consumed a substance that increases urine production, and you are thereby eliminating the most abundant liquid in your body - water.
if you are eliminating water and not replenishing it at an equal rate, what happens? obviously, you’re going to become more dehydrated. alcohol dehydrates you on its own, but neglecting to drink water while consuming alcohol can only increase the problem. (no, that guy that says he is “hydrating” with light beer in between his other beverages is not really hydrating. hopefully by now you know that, too).
cbd cannot counteract symptoms of dehydration. regardless, knowing that dehydration is one of the main causes of a hangover can enable you to take the steps necessary to either mitigate or downright prevent one by consuming as much, if not more, water than you do alcohol while drinking. and if you do end up with a hangover still, water is one of the best things you can consume to help your body recover, regardless of whether or not you are also taking cbd. just make sure you don’t drink too much, too fast.
loss of electrolytes also occurs as a byproduct of dehydration. electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are critical for maintaining proper blood ph levels and muscle contractions, including your heartbeat. the proper firing of nerve signals, blood clotting, and tissue development all depend on electrolytes to function correctly, and an electrolyte deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, respiratory and heart failure, headaches, confusion, seizures, and even death.
when you drink alcohol (or consume anything orally), it enters your gi tract, also known as your gut, where your body begins to break it down. everybody’s metabolism is different. some people have a faster metabolism than others, and others can process some foods and drinks better than others.
the alcohol inside the fermented beverages we enjoy is ethanol, a simple alcohol that your body processes into another chemical called acetaldehyde. according to the university of delaware, it is not known if long-term exposure to small amounts of acetaldehyde can cause harm. however, large amounts of it in your bloodstream can be harmful to your heart and blood vessels, and repeated exposure may contribute to cancer.
of all parts of your body, the brain is the most affected by acetaldehyde. it can contribute to amnesia, which is why you may not remember some (or all) of the details from a night of heavy drinking; and it is believed that the presence of acetaldehyde may be one of the biggest contributing factors to a hangover itself. it may also be related to producing some of the symptoms related to a hangover, including upset stomach, increased heart rate, and/or headache.
increased stomach acid production is another byproduct of alcohol consumption. this can delay digestion and cause nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting, and it can be even further compounded by the presence of the part of your brain known as the “vomiting center.” located within the medulla oblongata, the vomiting center can be activated once a person has drank enough, acting as a line of defense to prevent even more alcohol from entering the bloodstream.
while cbd cannot alter the production of stomach acid in your body, it may be able to help counteract feelings of nausea and vomiting by regulating the vomiting center in your brain. when you take cbd, it helps activate the cannabinoid receptors found all throughout your body, and research suggests that activation or suppression of cb1 receptors in the brain can play a role in the vomiting response.
more specifically, cb1 agonists can suppress vomiting, while the opposite promotes it. there is also a possibility that the activation of cb1 receptors can regulate the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to our happiness and well-being.
when our levels of serotonin become too high, nausea and vomiting are common responses. can you think of any other substances that raise your serotonin and might make you throw up? because of all these factors, it is believed that cbd may be an effective remedy for nausea and vomiting, and thus may also be of benefit to you should you find yourself hungover and experiencing these symptoms.
lastly, cbd plays a role in reducing the secretion of cortisol in the body. cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and you’ve probably experienced it when your fight-or-flight mechanism has been activated at some point in life. while that mechanism certainly has played a role in our evolution as a species, consistently-heightened cortisol levels in today’s world can compromise other functions necessary for a healthy life, such as your digestive, reproductive, and immune systems.
other symptoms from too much cortisol include headaches, anxiety and depression, memory and concentration problems, and weight gain. if you are hungover and not feeling mentally or emotionally present, cortisol could be a contributing factor and cbd may help your body produce less of it. this can help you feel less stressed and/or more relaxed, potentially easing hangover symptoms and promoting a more restful state in which your body can recover more thoroughly and efficiently.
can cbd prevent hangovers?
taking cbd as a one-off cannot directly prevent hangovers, but it’s a little more complicated than that. obviously, some people’s bodies process alcohol differently (read: better) than others. some people can drink all night and somehow avoid a hangover, while others can feel the effects from one beer or glass of wine the following morning. as a catchall, it’s probably safe to assume the only real way to not get a hangover is to abstain from drinking. we’re not here to preach, though. at the end of the day, you’re an adult and you know your body best. that decision is up to you.
just because taking cbd oil is not going to make you immune from a hangover, or make one go away, doesn’t mean cbd is completely useless in this instance. taking cbd regularly may contribute to a more-balanced ecs, which in turn can bring about a more stable internal bodily environment and potentially allow your body to better handle the adverse effects that alcohol can bring with it.
for most people, there are plenty of things in their control with regards to preventing a more severe hangover, and possibly preventing one outright. we’ve already touched on how alcohol is a diuretic and that it dehydrates you: the number one thing you can do while drinking alcohol to prevent a hangover is stay hydrated. this may seem obvious, but it’s also important to be mindful of. alcohol lowers your inhibitions and can impair memory, making it easy to forget while you’re enjoying your adult beverage(s) of choice.
it is also better to drink alcohol with some food already in your stomach. sure, drinking on an empty stomach may get you there faster, but it is also setting you up for failure on the other side. even further, you should look to eat complex carbohydrates and protein-rich foods, as these nutrient-dense foods will give your body the best chance at counteracting alcohol’s detrimental effects. other obvious ways to prevent a hangover are to drink less, and to refrain from mixing different types of alcohol.
sleep can also play a role in the bigger picture regarding hangovers. when you get enough sleep, your body is better able to handle everything that life throws its way. alcohol is no exception, and a well-rested body may be better equipped to handle the symptoms that come with a hangover. the converse also may be true: a lack of sleep can contribute to symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and headaches, and all of these may be magnified when hangover symptoms are present.
so, does cbd cure hangovers?
there are countless remedies of lore regarding how to cure a hangover. are any of them worthwhile? if you find yourself in a hungover state, you are certainly going to need water. beyond that, what else is good? should cbd be a part of the regimen?
just like with hangover prevention, cbd should not be relied upon as a spot treatment for hangovers; but taking cbd regularly may help maintain the balancing properties of the ecs when its receptors are activated. this may allow the body to better counteract the effects of a hangover, though there is no direct scientific proof to back this holistic approach to date.
regardless of whether or not you choose to incorporate cbd into your hangover routine (or better yet, your daily life), you might also be curious about the efficacy of other so-called hangover cures. so let’s look into those a bit.
- electrolyte-focused replenishment: it’s no secret that we lose electrolytes as we become dehydrated through a drinking session. many people out there reach for pedialyte or gatorade in order to replenish those supplies, but drinks like this may do just as much harm as they do good, thanks to their sugar contents. one potential all-natural alternative is coconut water.
- food to soak up the alcohol: there are plenty of times we don’t eat much, or at all when drinking alcohol. there is the thought that heavy, greasy, carbohydrate-rich foods can help soak up the alcohol and make you feel better; but in reality, the opposite is true: these foods are extremely hard to digest, and they can add further stress to your body, only making your hangover symptoms worse.
- reaching for a bottle of some sort: whether this involves drinking more to make the hangover go away (only perpetuating the problem, of course), or grabbing some ibuprofen in the hopes of making your headache dissipate, neither of these remedies will actually solve your problems. worse, ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding, and alcohol can increase the likelihood of that happening, especially if the two are consumed in conjunction and/or excess.
the best things you can do for a hangover are the same best practices to prevent one. proper hydration, sleep, and nutrition will ultimately give your body what it needs to recover, even if the process takes time. cbd oil can also have a place in this, as it can exhibit calming and relaxing effects that may lead to an increased capacity for some combination of those three key components.
it is also worth mentioning that the only real cure for your hangover may be time. if you are hungover, your body is going to need time in order to detoxify and return to a state of normalcy. it sucks to have to ride that out, but all hangovers do eventually go away on their own. hopefully your next one does sooner, rather than later.
can i mix cbd with alcohol? yes, cbd is safe to mix with alcohol. however, it is possible for the effects of one or both substances to become amplified when taken together. cbd is nontoxic, but alcohol is a toxin that could become fatal if consumed in too large of quantities, and you should never take cbd in an attempt to consume more alcohol.
cbd may also be harmful to your liver, meaning you should talk to your doctor if you consume alcohol regularly, as alcohol can also be damaging to the liver.
one last thing to mention: if you are looking into taking cbd for hangovers, or literally any other reason, make sure you are buying organic, third-party lab tested cbd oil. the cbd market is unregulated, and a lot of products may not contain their advertised amount of cbd. even worse, these products may contain harmful toxins that could actually cause headaches, when you’re trying to potentially get rid of yours. always make sure your cbd company can provide lab results from an independent source so that you can give your body what you intend to.