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, or cannabidiol, has recently become a popular natural alternative for treating many conditions, including hangovers. Learn all about CBD and how it could help fight your early-morning headaches here.
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.
Can You Really Use CBD to Cure a Hangover?
You’ve likely tried dozens of different remedies after drinking too much the night before, all with varying success. Coffee, hair of the dog, a greasy breakfast.
But can CBD really work to cure a hangover? This wonder compound is promoted as a natural remedy for almost everything else these days, from healing body aches to relaxing your mind.
Here’s what you need to know before turning to cannabis after an evening of overindulging on Captain Morgan.
What Causes Hangovers?
When you drink alcohol, the liver can break down approximately 90-98% of it at the rate of ten grams (one standard drink) per hour. This process transforms the alcohol into a harmless blend of carbon dioxide and water that your system expels naturally.
Hangovers occur when you drink faster than your system can process it, so toxins like acetaldehyde start to build up in your system. You’ll begin to feel the effects of the hangover several hours after drinking as your blood alcohol level starts to go back down.
Everyone’s hangover symptoms differ, though common ones include fatigue, nausea and stomach pain, muscle aches, sensitivity to light and sound, sweating, painful thirst, and a pounding headache.
Most people start recovering from hangovers within a few hours of developing symptoms and will feel back to normal within a day. But in the meantime, you may find yourself practically bedridden and canceling the day’s plans until you feel like yourself again.
It’s hard to predict where your limit is for ending an evening unscathed. Some people develop hangovers after one drink, while others can take shots all night without any ill effects. Your genetics play a role in how sensitive you are to alcohol, as does whether you drink on an empty stomach, pair alcohol with other drugs, or whether you get enough sleep afterward to give your body time to process out the toxins.
There’s also evidence that you’re more likely to develop a hangover from drinking darker-colored spirits like brandy and bourbon. That’s because they contain a higher concentration of flavor compounds known as congeners that can increase the severity of your hangover.
Compounding things, alcohol is a diuretic. If you aren’t sipping water throughout the night, you’ll end up dealing with dehydration symptoms that can make even mild hangovers more punishing.
How Can CBD Help Hangovers?
Everyone swears by their own hangover cure, from taking electrolytes to eating fatty foods or even drinking more alcohol. CBD is starting to gain attention as a natural hangover remedy, and the evidence shows it could work better for you than conventional choices. Here’s what you need to know.
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for keeping you in a general state of equilibrium. It regulates body processes ranging from sleep to appetite and even your pain response, and drinking too much alcohol can throw it off.
CBD is the second-most common cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. This chemical compound interacts with the CB2 receptors within your endocannabinoid system. Unlike THC (the most common cannabinoid), CBD won’t get you high. Rather, it is used as a natural remedy for health problems like chronic pain, insomnia, and more.
Giving your body a dose of CBD can counteract alcohol’s effects in five key ways.
1. Reduces Effects of Headaches and Brain Fog
CBD may help you avoid the infamous post-binge drinking headache. As headache pain comes from inflammation, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can help you get fast relief. Some people also find that CBD dries out their mouth and encourages them to drink more water. Symptoms of a hangover are exacerbated by dehydration, so any reminder to sip water will lessen your symptoms later.
Likewise, research shows that while alcohol leads to neurodegeneration, applying CBD to your skin may reduce this brain fog by up to 50%. Further studies reveal that the compound can also improve your concentration after drinking by interacting with the dopamine receptors that impact memory and focus.
2. Quells Nausea
CBD acts as an antiemetic, which means that it helps reduce the physical sensations of nausea and vomiting. Take some after a long night out, and you’re less likely to feel queasy the next day.
3. Prevents Anxiety and Depression
A night out drinking can increase your brain’s cortisol levels. CBD acts with your serotonin receptors to slow down your cortisol response and restore a feeling of emotional balance.
If you’re stressed during a hangover, CBD can relax your mind so you recover faster.
4. Fights Free Radical Damage
The body is in rough shape after an evening out, and it needs a serious nutrition boost. As CBD is a powerful antioxidant, it can help put vitamins back into your system and flush out toxins like acetaldehyde to reduce free radical damage from the alcohol.
5. Counteracts Fatigue
It’s natural to feel sluggish after heavy drinking. CBD may give you a boost of energy to get back on track. Cannabidiol interacts with your system on a cellular level to bring it back into equilibrium so that you start to recover and get back to baseline faster.
The Best Types of CBD Products for Hangovers
While CBD can help with hangovers, the way you take it will make a significant difference in how well it addresses your symptoms. The three best methods for taking CBD for hangovers include oils, nasal inhalers, and ingesting it through gummies or other edibles.
CBD oil can come in vials or as roll-ons for applying it directly to your skin. Roll-ons work well if you have localized pain in one part of your body, such as a sore lower back. You can administer the oil directly where you need it for targeted relief, but it might take a long time for the oil to absorb into your bloodstream to the point you notice the effects.
Consider CBD oils if: You want portable CBD treatments that can target specific parts of the body.
One of the most common ways to take CBD today is by ingesting it within gummies or other edible products. Some people take it as tinctures that they add to drinks or apply directly under their tongue. It usually takes 45 minutes or longer for the effects to kick in, but you’re likely to experience them for several hours after.
While these treats make medicating yourself feel like indulging in candy, they offer the lowest bioavailability of all CBD delivery forms. CBD is fat-soluble, which makes it challenging for your body to absorb. The bioavailability averages between 6-19%, which means that most of the CBD leaves your system as waste.
Consider CBD edibles if: you want a mild, long-lasting effect (and the idea of eating something doesn’t make you feel nauseous).
CBD Nasal Inhalers
Nasal inhalers offer one of the fastest ways to get cannabinoids into your system, as they can achieve maximum concentration of CBD in your blood within ten minutes or less.
Unlike vaping, which relies on heat, nasal inhalers use propellants to get the CBD into your system. This means there’s zero risk of harmful side effects like scorched lungs or other heat-induced irritation.
CBD nasal inhaler brands vary in quality and concentration. Many require you to purchase an inhaler separately to use the canisters. If you want an all-in-one system, the BoomBoom CBD nasal inhaler contains all-natural ingredients like a proprietary blend of organic peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and spearmint oil with organically-grown broad-spectrum CBD from Colorado.
These discrete inhalers give you a convenient way to use CBD on demand. You can pull one out whenever your hangover symptoms start to feel overwhelming and experience almost immediate relief without anyone knowing what you are doing.
Consider CBD nasal inhalers if: you want a portable, discrete way to administer CBD for quick results.
How to Determine the Right Dosage
The best way to get hangover relief through CBD is to make sure you take the correct dose. Fail to take in enough, and you may not notice any improvements in your symptoms. But, take too much, and you could exacerbate your hangover by triggering lethargy, irritability, and even headaches.
Now here’s the tricky part—everyone reacts differently to CBD. Five mg for one user might have the effect of 25mg for another. It’s best to track your personal usage so you get a sense of your most effective dose. If you’re new to CBD, seek out products with relatively low potency from brands that are transparent about precisely how much of the active ingredient comes in each dose. Err on the side of using too little at first and slowly increase your usage over time.
Will taking CBD after drinking alcohol prevent a hangover? Sadly, this compound (or anything else) isn’t likely to completely eliminate your hangover symptoms, no matter how much you take. The only way to avoid hangovers altogether is to not drink alcohol in the first place. The best strategy is drinking smart and treating yourself soon after. This means pacing yourself, staying hydrated, and avoiding drinking on an empty stomach.
If you follow these common-sense measures with CBD, then there’s a strong probability that you can avoid the worst hangover symptoms and recover faster so you can move forward with your day. That’s good news we all can drink to.