Now that low-dose CBD oil is legally available in Australia, many people are considering the CBD oil side effects and asking how alcohol and CBD oil interact.
In different parts of the world, you can find almost any drink or food infused with CBD, including alcoholic drinks. This begs the question, is medicinal CBD oil safe to have with your dinner and wine?
Before we dive into how CBD interacts with alcohol and other drugs, having a little understanding of how the body metabolises CBD can give some context.
How CBD is processed in the body
CBD is metabolised (or broken down) in the liver. Your liver is a powerhouse of activity! It stores energy for later, creates hormones, breaks down and detoxifies everything from food, environmental pollutants, alcohol and pretty much all other drugs – pharmaceutical or otherwise.
Some of the key elements responsible for metabolising drugs in the liver are called CYP enzymes. CBD and other cannabinoids can influence CYP enzymes, in some cases inhibiting or promoting their activity.
CBD uses a number of CYP enzymes in its metabolism, for some of these enzymes, CBD outcompetes or inhibits other compounds being metabolised by the liver. This means certain medications or other drugs may not be metabolised as quickly, or are diverted elsewhere.
What happens when you mix alcohol and CBD oil?
Having alcohol within 4-8 hours of CBD oil may cause an additive effect. Both CBD oil and alcohol act on the nervous system, when taken together they could enhance each other’s effects.
Surprisingly, there are not a lot of human trials assessing alcohol and CBD oil together. One early study found that people who had alcohol plus a 200mg CBD capsule exhibited the same impairments in coordination and cognition as those who only had alcohol.
The same study also showed that those who took CBD had lower blood alcohol levels. Animal trials have confirmed similar outcomes and uncovered some other interesting positive effects.
Can CBD help with alcohol addiction?
Preliminary studies show CBD oil could help support key areas related to alcohol addiction by influencing intake, motivation, relapse and impulsivity.
In a 2018 study, alcoholic rats given CBD showed reduced desire for alcohol, without interference in their normal behaviour or any symptoms of sedation.
Impressively, while the rats were only given CBD treatment for 7 days they continued to show no alcohol-seeking behaviour for a further 5 months.
This is pretty exciting stuff in terms of reducing relapse for individuals with alcohol or substance abuse disorders, but we will have to wait for more controlled human studies to assess
Not only can CBD oil potentially reduce alcohol addiction but there is preliminary research it could help reduce alcohol-induced damage to the liver and brain. Animal research indicates CBD reduces oxidative damage to the liver, neurodegeneration and brain cell death from alcohol intake and binge drinking.
CBD reduces withdrawal symptoms from opioids and other drugs
CBD oil and its positive effects on addiction are not limited to alcohol. In other instances of substance abuse like opioids, heroin or methamphetamine, CBD oil may ease cravings, anxiety and reduce drug-seeking behaviour.
Does CBD interact with medications?
As discussed earlier, CBD can affect the way certain medications or drugs are metabolised. For certain medications, the dose and timing are essential to maintain adequate levels of the drug in the bloodstream.
Concerns surround certain medications and CBD potentially increasing the time a drug spends in a person’s system – where it could continue to be active, amplify the effects of the drug or cause unwanted side effects.
The dose of CBD oil makes a big difference, whereas low-doses such as that dispensed by CA Connect (max 150mg a day) may not cause any negative effect on CYP enzymes.
When your CA Connect health practitioner calls you, please discuss any concerns you may have about specific medications you’re taking, to see whether CBD might be contraindicated.
Note CBD doesn’t affect all medications, it depends on which pathways the medication is metabolised by. CA Connect makes sure of your safety by checking any medications you may take for potential interactions with CBD. If you’re unsure, best speak with your GP as well.
The bottom line on CBD and alcohol and drugs
While the safety profile of CBD is well established, taking CBD alongside other medications, drugs or alcohol can pose certain risks.
CBD may benefit symptoms of chronic pain, anxiety, sleep disturbances, potentially even reduce addiction and alcohol-induced damage, but it’s not suitable for everyone. It is important to consult with your GP or one of the qualified medical practitioners at CA Connect.