CBD For Hangover
Hangovers are never pleasant. A drinking binge leaves us exhausted, nauseous, and dehydrated. The worst part is there is no real cure for a hangover short of drinking in moderation. Could CBD for hangover be the solution?
The most common advice for a hangover is to drink plenty of water, rest, take magnesium and vitamin B, and eat healthy, nutritious food rich in carbohydrates. But all these are palliative solutions to alleviate the hangover’s effects.
Now that CBD has become more widely available, there is increasing research into the possible use of CBD to treat and alleviate a hangover as studies suggest that CBD may possess anti-inflammatory and anti-vomiting qualities.
This potential is due to CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system—our body’s way of maintaining its natural balance—leading to a possible way to counterbalance the impact of extreme alcohol consumption. However, this possibility needs to be proven scientifically.
While we wait for more research to emerge, some CBD users suggest taking CBD after a night’s excessive drinking to help with some hangover side-effects. How true is this claim and what do we know so far?
What happens when you drink alcohol?
Alcohol consumption makes us feel better. This is because of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA:
- Drinking alcohol initially triggers our feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine, and helps us feel happy and relaxed.
- Along with dopamine, serotonin flows from the brain and further enhances our feelings of happiness and elation.
- Alcohol consumption also sets off GABA, the brain neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating our behaviour and feelings of anxiety and depression.
However, alcohol is also a depressant that scales down our activity levels and tranquilizes our brain.
This is the reason why people who have been drinking heavily have slurred speech and cannot stand upright without falling. The loss of motor coordination is caused by the tranquilizing effect of alcohol on the brain. Alcohol slows down our brains and impairs our handling of any information. In short, we become sluggish.
What are the main symptoms of an alcohol hangover?
Once the elation and happiness phase is gone, what is left after excessive drinking is a heavy hangover.
Nausea and vomiting
Alcohol is toxic to the body, so our bodies activate all the mechanisms they have to get rid of it.
The first area that is stimulated is the appropriately called vomiting centre, the brain region controlling vomiting.
The vomiting centre is tasked with expelling from the stomach anything harmful to the body. When you have food poisoning, the vomiting centre expels from your body the toxic food to stop it from harming other organs.
The same strategy occurs during a hangover: our brain wants the alcohol out of the body. Because alcohol is intoxicating and toxic, we vomit to expulse it from our stomach.
Part of this vomiting sequence is that the stomach produces more acids, which is another way for the stomach to protect the body as acid will destroy toxic substances. However, excess stomach acids also cause nausea and vomiting, while some people experience abdominal pain.
Alcohol increases urine production. Again, our body is trying to get rid of the alcohol in the body.
Excessive and abundant urination can lead to dehydration as we lose fluids without replacing them. As a rule of thumb, for each part of alcohol, you expel four parts of urine, hence the dehydration.
Such extreme urination can lead to fatigue, low blood pressure, headaches, dry mouth, and irritability.
Many people experience headaches during a hangover. Headaches are caused in part by dehydration. However, alcohol also increases the inflammatory responses of our body, so headaches and migraines can be caused by inflammation.
Low blood sugar levels
During a hangover, your liver is working hard to expulse the alcohol from your body. While working overtime, it has little time to balance our blood sugar levels, which can drop as a consequence.
Anxiety and depression
While dopamine is secreted when you start drinking, this feel-good hormone crashes when you stop drinking alcohol. As dopamine levels collapse, you are left feeling depressed and anxious. There is a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Heavy alcohol consumption also increases the production of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone. High cortisol levels have been linked with anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. This explains why hangovers are often followed by feelings of sadness, depression, and low spirits.
Lastly, a common hangover problem is poor sleep quality. While nursing a hangover, our circadian rhythms are disrupted and people go through sleepless nights and daytime sleepiness. This causes further exhaustion and general body imbalance.
Our body uses sleep time to metabolize and harmonize our bodily functions. Without this reparation time, our body finds itself out of sync.
Can CBD help with a hangover?
There is growing interest in the possibility of using CBD for hangovers, particularly when it comes to nausea and inflammation. While CBD can do little when it comes to excessive urination, it could help with other hangover effects.
CBD and nausea
CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system. Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) is tasked with keeping our bodies in balance. It controls several bodily functions such as appetite, mood, temperature perception, reproduction, inflammation, vomiting, mood, and pain perception.
CBD seems to help our ECS to work better and more efficiently. Our ECS has two human cannabinoids called anandamide and 2-AG. These endocannabinoids bind to their respective receptors and trigger them when our bodies are out of balance and action is required. For example, when your cells are dehydrated, your ECS will generate a feeling of thirst.
Studies suggest that CBD helps our endocannabinoids by pushing them to be more efficient and adept at triggering their relevant receptors.
The aforementioned vomiting centre is controlled and regulated by the ECS. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is the trigger that causes our body to start vomiting. CBD appears to activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, which lowers the release of serotonin. With less serotonin secreted in the body, the vomiting centre is less activated and our need to vomit is lessened.
A 2011 research undertaken to study how CBD can help chemotherapy-caused vomiting and nausea concluded that “cannabinoids, including CBD, may be effective clinically for treating both nausea and vomiting.”
Hangover and inflammation
Excessive alcohol consumption triggers inflammation in the body.
Alcohol has been linked to increased levels of cytokines—proteins triggering inflammation in the body. These are normally released when an intruder has entered the body to cause inflammation that will stop the intruder before it can cause any damage.
In the case of alcohol consumption, cytokines cause inflammation because the body perceives alcohol as a threatening intruder. Inflammation, however, can cause headaches and other inflammatory responses. Research done in 2019 showed that “[a]lcohol metabolites, neurotransmitter alterations, inflammatory factors and mitochondrial dysfunction are the most likely factors in hangover pathology.”
CBD and inflammation
CBD has been found to have anti-inflammatory qualities, again because it interacts with our ECS which is tasked with regulating inflammation. Several studies on CBD have explored its potential anti-inflammatory properties.
One study in 2009 found that cannabinoids (including CBD) can attenuate inflammation and inflammatory responses and appears to “be involved in regulating the immune system through its immunomodulatory properties.”
A further 2018 study concluded that “[t]hese preliminary findings suggest that cannabinoid compounds may serve to mitigate inflammation associated with alcohol use.”
CBD and sleep
Some studies suggest that CBD could be helpful with sleeplessness. There is ongoing research regarding the use of CBD for insomnia and smoother sleep patterns.
Poor sleep is often linked to anxiety and depression. CBD appears to help with alleviating anxiety, thus helping our brain fall into uninterrupted sleep. Initial studies suggest that CBD could help with sleep and anxiety.
In the case of a hangover, perhaps CBD could improve our sleep by helping our brain rid itself of the anxiety caused by alcohol.
What should I do for a hangover?
Taking CBD for hangovers is not the first thing that comes to mind. The most common remedy is to drink plenty of water to rehydrate your body.
It is also advised to take magnesium and other supplements in order to restore your electrolytes to normal levels. Because of excessive urination and vomiting, we lose precious electrolytes such as magnesium, sodium, and potassium. Replenishing them can help our body recover faster and to the full.
Some suggest taking vitamin B supplements. The vitamin B complex helps our brain and our nervous system recover their functioning and performance. When our body tries to handle an excessive alcohol intake, it uses a lot of vitamin B, leaving us depleted. Taking extra vitamin B may help our brains recover from “brain fog.”
Of course, a good night’s sleep can accelerate our metabolic processes and help our body regain its strength and wellbeing.
Finally, eating proteins and complex carbohydrates help by providing our bodies with slow-burning energy.
Will CBD cause a hangover?
The World Health Organization has found CBD to be well-tolerated by the body, non-intoxicating, and non-addictive. This is the reason why CBD has been legalised across many countries, including the UK, the European Union, the United States, and Canada.
CBD does have some side-effects and seems to interact with certain medications. However, no incidents of CBD overdose have ever been reported. In immense quantities, CBD can cause nausea, drowsiness, and sleepiness. These quickly dissipate once CBD consumption is stopped.
Does CBD help with weed hangover?
Anecdotal evidence suggests taking CBD to reduce marijuana’s adverse effects, including hangover.
CBD products sold legally in the UK must have less than 0.2% of THC. Illegal in the UK, THC is the intoxicating and addictive cannabinoid found in hemp. Consuming weed and marijuana can cause a hangover associated with lethargy, brain fog, headache, and nausea. Some people also experience tiredness and dry mouth.
Weed hangover produces similar hangover symptoms to alcohol hangover, and some studies suggest CBD may alleviate them and help with nausea and headaches.
However, there is no scientific evidence yet proving that taking CBD can assist with a weed hangover.
People experimenting with CBD to nurse their weed hangover should remember to use CBD products without traces of THC, such as broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate, otherwise, they will be still adding THC to their body.
CBD for hangover: more studies necessary
Finding cures and antidotes to a hangover can be difficult. The simplest one is to simply not indulge in excessive alcohol drinking.
Most people have experienced a hangover and certainly didn’t like it. Recovering from an alcohol hangover includes drinking water, sleeping, resting, and eating healthy and nutritious food to regain energy.
With CBD’s increasing popularity, some suggest that taking CBD could help with nausea, headaches, poor sleep, and inflammation. These are the most common symptoms of a hangover and the most debilitating ones.
Research has shown that CBD might help with nausea and inflammation and it may also help reduce anxiety and improve sleep. However, there hasn’t been much research regarding CBD’s potential for treating a hangover.
Even so, several people are taking CBD to recover from a hangover. As CBD is not addictive and not intoxicating, there is no risk of causing any further hangover or addiction.
Until we get more solid findings regarding CBD’s potential effectiveness in alleviating a hangover, the best thing to do is to drink moderately.
Even if CBD does offer a “hangover cure” in the future, this is no reason to indulge in excessive alcohol drinking. Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to serious and long-term health effects and even death.