Can CBD cure a hangover? There’s a lot of misinformation going around, so we’re clearing the air on whether or not CBD can actually stop a hangover or not. CBD has been used by many people to help with their hangovers. This article explores whether or not this is a safe or effective use of CBD.
Can CBD Stop a Hangover?
There’s a lot of misinformation going around. Let’s clear the air on whether or not CBD can actually stop a hangover or not.
We’ve all been there before — it’s 1 pm as you roll out of bed. Your mouth feels as dry as the Sahara desert and your head is pounding as you’ve just survived 12 rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson.
You’re nauseous and feeling exceptionally unmotivated. If only you hadn’t drunk so much last night…
How do you get rid of a hangover?
A greasy burger, Pedialyte and Gatorade, pickles, glass of milk, or the good ol’ hair of the dog that bit you — another drink. Everyone seems to have their own hangover cure. We’ll be exploring another trending remedy, CBD.
Can CBD (cannabidiol) really relieve a hangover?
In this article, we’ll bust the door wide open on the use of CBD for hangovers. We cover what causes the symptoms of a hangover and investigate whether or not CBD oil offers any practical use for these symptoms.
Let’s break this topic down into its parts. Starting with how a hangover works.
Table of Contents
- What Causes a Hangover?
- 1. Alcohol Activates a Region in the Brain That Controls Vomiting
- Can CBD Offer Any Help for Nausea?
What Causes a Hangover?
Most people know that hangovers are caused by drinking alcohol — but few people understand precisely how drinking results in the symptoms of a hangover.
Alcohol is relatively toxic. When you drink, you’re forcing your body to adapt to the influx of the compound and eliminate it as quickly as possible. The effects of a hangover, in general, are the results of those changes.
Hangovers will go away on their own but can take up to 24 hours to disappear completely.
To understand how CBD might help, we have to discuss the underlying causes of hangover symptoms.
1. Alcohol Activates a Region in the Brain That Controls Vomiting
Symptoms Caused by This Effect
- Abdominal pain
How it Works
When alcohol levels rise in the bloodstream, it can set off alarms in a region of the brainstem responsible for controlling nausea and vomiting — aptly named the vomiting center. This triggers muscle contractions to expel the contents of the stomach, preventing the absorption of toxic substances.
The body does this as a way to protect itself. The general idea is to prevent any more alcohol from entering the bloodstream — in this case by rejecting everything in the stomach.
This usually happens while inebriated but can continue for several hours afterward — stretching into the following morning.
Alcohol also causes your stomach to produce more acid. This delays digestion and causes abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Can CBD Offer Any Help for Nausea?
Although there’s little CBD can do to prevent the effects of alcohol on stomach acid, it may offer some support for the vomiting center in the brainstem.
This might get complicated, but the bottom line here is that CBD has anti-nausea benefits through its effects on serotonin in the brainstem.
This is the only real benefit CBD has for hangover symptoms.
The vomiting center is regulated in part by the endocannabinoid system (specifically, the CB1 receptors) — It’s the primary mechanism of action CBD uses to exert its effects. Other factors include serotonin and the opioid system — both of which are also important for this region of the brain [1,2].
Research suggests that CBD exerts its anti-nausea effects indirectly by activating the 5HT-1A receptors in the brainstem — also known as the serotonin receptors . Activating these receptors is thought to lower the release of 5-HT (serotonin), which blocks the sensation of nausea and the urge to vomit.
Another cannabinoid that’s even better at reducing the effects of nausea is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
This compound directly activates the CB1 endocannabinoid receptors in the brainstem — which block signals produced by the vomiting center and effectively stop feelings of nausea in its tracks .
The only problem is that THC is psychoactive, and illegal in most parts of the world. So if you’re looking for the benefits without the high, stick to a CBD-rich hemp extract instead.
2. Alcohol Increases Urine Production
Symptoms Caused by This Effect
- Low blood pressure
- Dry mouth
How it Works
Alcohol is a diuretic — which means it causes you to produce urine at a faster rate than usual. This is simply the body’s way of removing the compound from the bloodstream.
If you’re excreting more fluid than you’re taking in (aka, not drinking enough water), you’re going to be dehydrated within a couple of hours. This is one of the main reasons you feel lightheaded, dry-mouthed, and dizzy the following morning.
As the fluid moves through the kidneys to form urine, it carries electrolytes from the bloodstream along with it — such as magnesium, sodium, or potassium.
This can lead to nutrient deficiencies that can cause symptoms like headaches, low immunity, and brain fog.
Can CBD Offer Any Help for Dehydration?
CBD has little to do with the production of urine — so you’ll need to make sure you drink enough water while consuming alcohol to counteract the loss of fluids.
CBD is not a cure-all, so you’ll need to make sure you’re taking other measures to care for yourself while consuming alcohol — such as drinking water in between alcoholic drinks.
According to WebMD, for every alcoholic drink you consume, your body eliminates about 4 times as much fluid — so you need to drink a fair bit of water if you want to avoid feeling dehydrated the following morning.
3. Alcohol Causes Low Blood Sugar Levels
Symptoms Caused by This Effect
- Poor concentration
How it Works
Alcohol can reduce blood sugar levels directly — leading to states of hypoglycemia where there isn’t enough sugar in the blood to meet the demands of the internal organs. Early signs of this involve muscle shakes and irritability. While intoxicated, these symptoms often go unnoticed, only to appear the following morning.
This is made worse by consuming high-sugar foods and beverages (like beer, wine, or cocktails) while drinking.
You may be wondering — how can sugary foods lead to low sugar?
The reason why this happens is due to a hormone called insulin. This hormone is released by the pancreas as blood sugar levels rise. Its job is to transfer sugar into the cells where it can be used to produce energy.
If we consume sugary foods, our blood sugar levels rise rapidly. Insulin is released to do its job, but quickly removes most of the sugar in the bloodstream. As soon as we stop taking in these simple sugars, we can rebound in the opposite direction — leading to a crash in blood sugar levels. This usually happens while we’re asleep, leaving us fatigued, shaky, and irritable the following morning.
Can CBD Offer Any Help On Regulating Blood Sugar Levels?
CBD has clear benefits towards blood sugar control — but this effect is over the long-term rather than after just one night of drinking.
Chronic alcohol use has a whole other set of consequences related to blood sugar that may be well-suited for CBD supplementation. Frequent spikes and subsequent drops in blood sugar levels can lead to insulin sensitivities over time .
A large-scale research study on the effects of marijuana on insulin resistance found a 17% reduction of insulin resistance in marijuana users over non-users .
There may be long-term protective effects from cannabinoids, however. For example, CBD may protect the body from the negative impact alcohol has on blood sugar levels — there’s little it can do in the short term.
The best solution is to make sure you’re eating during a big night out and avoid high-sugar beverages. Aim to consume foods high in protein and complex carbs instead of sugary meals.
Additional Tips for Preventing Hangovers
Hangovers are a collection of symptoms produced by the effects of alcohol on the body. It’s hard to pinpoint one exact cause as many of the symptoms overlap — “is my headache a result of magnesium deficiency, or dehydration… or both?”.
The bottom line here is that the best treatment for this condition is always going to be a multifaceted approach — that is, a collection of different treatments, rather than just one.
CBD is a great addition if nausea is a major problem but isn’t going to address all of your symptoms.
Instead, it’s best to combine CBD with other methods.
Let’s cover a few in more detail:
Drink plenty of water
One of the biggest causes of hangover symptoms is dehydration. Ensure you’re drinking at least one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume, and keep a bottle of water beside the bed — you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
Take magnesium supplements
This is a critical nutrient involved with well over 300 different enzymatic processes in the human body — including the metabolism of alcohol. It’s common for people to deplete serum magnesium after a night out which can lead to headaches and brain fog.
Get plenty of sleep
Your body performs a lot of its metabolic processes while asleep — which may explain why your body wants to shut itself down after having a few too many drinks.
Take B Vitamins
B Vitamins are a class of compounds that serve as cofactors for the body. Many of them are used up as the body converts alcohol to less harmful byproducts, so it can help to take an extra boost of these helpful compounds before going to bed.
Eat foods high in protein and complex carbohydrates
Crashes in blood sugar after a night out can leave us feeling shaky, irritable, and tired. Make sure your body has the energy it needs by making an effort to eat quality foods while you’re out.
Summary: Can CBD Really Help With Hangover Symptoms?
CBD is an excellent supplement with a long list of potential benefits. Some of these benefits may even offer support during a hangover — but it’s certainly not a cure. In fact, aside from helping people with alcohol-induced nausea, CBD offers little help to those suffering from a hangover.
The best way to avoid or mitigate the effects of a hangover is always going to be consuming less alcohol, drinking plenty of fluids, taking electrolytes, and avoiding alcohol on an empty stomach.
Bottom Line: If you’re feeling nauseous during a hangover, you may want to keep a bottle of CBD oil nearby.
Does CBD Oil Help With Hangovers?
CBD has a well-earned reputation for helping people manage everything from chronic pain to anxiety.
More recently, people have been discussing the possibility of using CBD to help with hangovers.
If you’re interested in getting rid of your hangovers quickly and painlessly, you’ll probably want to keep reading.
What You Need to Know About Hangovers
If you want to know how CBD can help with your hangover then it’s in your best interest to understand how a hangover actually happens. There are a lot of factors involved that lead to the symptoms we identify as a hangover.
In either case, the primary culprit of a hangover is alcohol. Alcohol is a known toxic compound that wreaks havoc on the body. However, the biological mechanisms behind this phenomenon are a bit more complex than simply saying “alcohol makes you feel like crap.”
One of the main things involved in the hangover process is a chemical called acetaldehyde.
If that sounds like a harsh chemical, that’s because it is. The name acetaldehyde comes from the combination of two more familiar, highly-toxic compounds: acetone and formaldehyde.
When you consume alcohol, it’s absorbed by your body and broken down into a number of different components, one of which is acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a member of a group of chemicals called aldehydes.
This particular compound is highly reactive and toxic to the body. Being highly reactive, a huge number of different reactions are required in order to effectively break it down so it can be excreted.
While this is happening, your body has to redirect energy and resources to this metabolism process. During this time the acetaldehyde will be exerting its toxic effects on your body. This is the cause of a number of unpleasant hangover effects.
What Causes A Hangover?
There are many different factors that can lead to a hangover.
One such factor is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it makes you pee a lot. If you’re not staying sufficiently hydrated while you’re drinking (which very few people tend to do) then it’s easy to become extremely dehydrated.
The symptoms of serious dehydration are quite similar to many symptoms of a hangover: headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.
Some of the gastrointestinal symptoms of a hangover can also be a direct result of alcohol. Alcohol irritates the digestive lining and causes your digestive tract to produce more acid. This can contribute to issues like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Alcohol can also sap your body of electrolytes. These are important chemical messengers that allow your cells to communicate effectively. When you’re lacking in electrolytes you can experience issues like headaches, irritability, and physical weakness.
Using Cannabis as a Hangover Remedy
People have been using cannabis as a hangover treatment for many years. It’s not uncommon to hear of partygoers smoking a joint during the morning after in order to ease the symptoms.
This isn’t just a tall tale or a folk remedy. There is the real science behind cannabis being an effective treatment for hangovers.
One of the reasons for this is because of the way that cannabis affects the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is one of the widest networks in the body. This system influences everything from our digestion to our perception of pain and anxiety.
There are two main receptor sites in the ECS: CB1 and CB2. These receptors are activated by compounds called endocannabinoids and cannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are those produced by the body itself, whereas cannabinoids are those produced by other methods – such as those found within the cannabis plant. Endo literally means within.
There are many cannabinoids found in marijuana. However, for the purpose of this report, the two most important ones are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Up until recently, people thought that the main reason cannabis helped with hangovers was due to its THC content. THC influences the ECS in a very powerful way, leading to effects like relaxation and a reduction in nausea.
This happens because THC binds to the receptor sites in the ECS. However, in binding to these receptor sites, THC also causes a significant form of intoxication. Not everyone enjoys this intoxication and many people find that it makes them paranoid, anxious, or uncomfortable.
Why does this matter?
It matters because alcohol is known to cause undesirable effects in the ECS. Long-term alcohol use may cause serious imbalances in the endocannabinoid system. However, recent research suggests that even short-term alcohol use can have an adverse effect on the system.
When your endocannabinoid system is out of balance, a number of different issues can arise. ECS imbalances have been acknowledged in both physical and mental health issues ranging from anxiety to inflammation of the bowel walls known as irritable bowel syndrome.
Symptoms of a hangover are, indeed, quite similar. Hangovers are often associated with anxiety and digestive problems.
Restoring balance to the ECS may help to mitigate these symptoms as well as some of the other unwanted effects of a hangover.
Does CBD Work for Hangovers?
CBD may be useful for helping to overcome a hangover. In fact, some people may find that CBD is more useful than THC for managing hangovers.
The reason for this is because of the different ways that each of these compounds affects the ECS. THC is a direct agonist to the CB receptors. This means that it activates them. This direct activation leads to profound and obvious effects, including intoxication.
CBD performs many similar functions as CBD. However, it tends to operate in a more indirect fashion. By influencing the production of hormones, neurotransmitters, and enzymes, CBD is able to bring balance to the ECS without causing any serious intoxication.
This is fantastic news for people who are hesitant to use cannabis as a hangover treatment.
How Exactly Does CBD Help? — List of CBD Benefits for Hangovers
In this section, we will outline some of the research and speculation regarding the use of CBD for hangovers.
CBD May Help Fight Dehydration-Related Symptoms
As mentioned earlier in the article, many of the symptoms of a hangover are believed to be the result of acute dehydration.
However, some researchers — including Ethan Russo, M.D. — believe these symptoms may actually be the result of a seriously imbalanced endocannabinoid system.
Alcohol acts as a diuretic. Not only can the related loss of fluid cause you to feel dehydrated, but it can also lead to inflammation in your body. CBD can help to reduce inflammation.
Researchers and study subjects report that CBD works very well as an anti-inflammatory compound. It can help to reduce the discomfort, aches, and pains that are associated with inflammation of all sorts including that caused by a hangover.
One of the best parts of this is the fact that CBD doesn’t adversely interact with alcohol. This is not the case with more traditional anti-inflammatory drugs like Aspirin and Ibuprofen which can cause an increase in liver toxicity.
CBD Helps Fight Nausea & Vomiting
Cannabis has long been used as an antiemetic to help prevent nausea and vomiting.
In fact, cannabis has proven so effective for this that marijuana is becoming one of the most popular medicines to prescribe alongside chemotherapy — a cancer treatment that often causes intense nausea and vomiting.
CBD proves to have many of the same benefits. While it may be in your best interest to consume cannabis in its whole form to reap the benefits of a variety of cannabinoids, people who are opposed to marijuana’s intoxicating effects can find relief by simply using CBD.
CBD Helps Balance Your Mood
Among the most common symptoms of a hangover are anxiety, irritability, and even depression.
One of the reasons for this may be an increase in cortisol production. Cortisol is an important hormone but elevated levels can lead to mood instability and high stress.
Regardless of the cause, CBD is understood to help fight anxiety of all types. It has been used to help prevent panic attacks, alleviate social anxiety, and to help people manage generalized anxiety.
One of the reasons for this is because of CBD’s ability to affect our serotonin system.
Serotonin is one of our chief neurotransmitters that regulate our moods and feelings. By bringing balance to our serotonin system, CBD can help to fight anxiety and depression.
CBD May Help Fight Alcohol-Related Health Problems
While there have not been any studies done specifically to prove this, speculation abounds. This is because of CBD’s nature as a powerful antioxidant.
Alcohol is a fairly potent toxin. When you’re hungover, part of what you’re feeling is the result of toxic chemicals accumulating in your body. As an antioxidant, CBD may help to mitigate some of this damage.
How Much CBD Do I Need to Help My Hangover?
This can be a bit of a tricky question to answer.
Not only is everyone designed differently, but the method that you use to consume CBD can have a profound influence on how much you consume.
A heavy-set person taking CBD orally is going to need a completely different dose than an underweight individual who is using a vaporizer.
Oral CBD (Capsules)
Oral CBD has the lowest bioavailability of any type. Bioavailability is a term that describes the amount of a substance that is effectively absorbed and utilized by the body.
This means that the CBD pill or capsule must be taken in a higher dose than any of its forms. It’s generally recommended to start at a smaller dose of around 5 mg. This way, you can prevent yourself from becoming accustomed to a higher dose right away.
However, this can change if you decide to break apart your capsule and take the substance sublingually. We’ll discuss why in the next section.
Most forms of CBD can be taken sublingually.
Sublingual absorption occurs when something absorbs directly in the bloodstream through the blood vessels in your mouth. To take CBD sublingually you just need to hold the material, whether it is an oil, tincture, or powder, under your tongue.
Sublingual absorption has a higher rate of bioavailability than oral dosing. It also affects the body faster. Sublingual absorption is preferred by many because you get more value for your purchase.
As sublingual absorption is much more potent than oral CBD, you may not need it very much. It’s worth starting with a dose as low as a few milligrams and working your way up.
CBD can also be smoked or vaporized. Many products are available that provide concentrated CBD which can be vaporized through a vape pen or a dab rig.
You can also purchase cannabis that is bred to contain a high concentration of CBD and a minimum concentration of THC. This cannabis can be smoked like normal marijuana and enjoyed for its medicinal benefits.
Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to calculate the amount of CBD that you’re using if you’re smoking it.
Topical CBD is generally not absorbed into the bloodstream. If it is, it is only in extremely small quantities. As such, topical CBD is generally not useful for managing any of the mental side effects of a hangover such as anxiety and depression.
However, if you are prone to feeling aches and pains during a hangover, topical CBD may be useful. Lotions, creams, salves, and balms can all be rubbed directly into the problem area where they will serve to decrease pain.
Final Word: CBD For Hangovers
CBD, as a component of cannabis, has been used for many years to help combat hangovers. However, it was only in recent years that scientists have isolated CBD. This allows people to enjoy the same medicinal benefits of cannabis without any of the intoxications.
CBD helps by reducing anxiety, managing pain and discomfort, fighting nausea, and helping to produce feelings of well-being. It is a useful tool for helping to manage hangovers.
If you have experience using CBD for hangovers, leave a comment below to let us know about your experience.
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.