Author: Joy Hughes

Most adults who consume or have consumed alcohol, have experienced one or several hangovers in their lifetime. And by most accounts, a hangover is the last thing anyone wants to experience. The symptoms alone can be debilitating, causing a mountain of pain and an oath to never touch an alcoholic beverage again, until of course you do, with the shaky promise of not going overboard. However, depending on the person, as little as one drink can cause an unforgettable hangover.

Searching around online may promise odd and creative hangover remedies, but it seems more people are turning to CBD to relieve the uninviting symptoms of a dreaded hangover. After all, CBD is known for its many therapeutic benefits and even backed by scientific studies showcasing these benefits. Still the question remains, is CBD a good remedy for hangovers? And what is it about alcohol that turns an exciting Friday or Saturday night into a horrible, sometimes unmanageable morning, or next couple of mornings?

Young man suffering from strong headache or migraine sitting with glass of water in the kitchen, millennial guy feeling intoxication and pain touching aching head, morning after hangover concept

What is a hangover?

The over-consumption of alcohol is usually followed by a class of debilitating symptoms:

  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache/Migraines
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Sensitivity to sounds and light
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremors

Although hangovers are not well known scientifically, researchers have found that alcohol directly affects the body's overall function: urination, digestion, sleep, etc. Drinking alcohol causes a few things to happen in the body, the first being dehydration.

Consuming alcohol first causes the pituitary gland to stop producing vasopressin — an antidiuretic hormone that allows the body to reabsorb water. When this hormone is stopped, the liquid is sent straight from the kidneys to the bladder, thus leading to dehydration. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium (electrolytes and minerals) are often lost with excessive urination, which help in the proper function of our cells.

Drinking alcohol causes the body to lose one to four times more liquid than it gains.

As we continue to drink, our organs begin to steal water from the brain, which then shrinks the brain by pulling from the membrane inside your skull, causing massive headaches that often turn into migraines.

The second course of action is how we digest and metabolize alcohol. The liver metabolizes alcohol by first breaking it down into ethanol, which actually creates a toxin known as acetaldehyde — a molecule broken down from liver enzymes that cause a number of hangover symptoms.

The enzymes in the liver, along with glutathione (a natural antioxidant) then break down the acetaldehyde even more, rendering the liver unable to keep up with the filtration process. The liver is then left with harmful toxic leftovers, which cause an imbalance in the body and damage to brain cells. In other words, when we drink alcohol,  we’re essentially slowly poisoning our body.1

How CBD can help relieve symptoms of a hangover?

How does CBD help with pain and sleep?

CBD’s ability to prevent anandamide from metabolizing too quickly could help in reducing the perception of pain associated with migraines and headaches. Perhaps what’s most alluring is CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. Studies involving animal models suggest that CBD helps reduce inflammation and the pain that follows.2

In a 2008 review, involving studies between the 1980s and 2007, researchers noted that CBD effectively managed pain without any harmful side effects. Sleep is often lost in the days after a night of partying. It was also concluded that CBD helped with insomnia associated with chronic pain.3

How does CBD help hangover-induced anxiety?

Studies have suggested that CBD’s anxiolytic effects help relax and calm the receptors in the brain that cause fear and anxiety. Additionally, CBD is a neuroprotectant. It reduces brain damage and promotes new neuron growth. As alcohol enters the body, it damages the brain cells, which often leaves one in an anxious, forgetful state.4

How does CBD help with nausea and vomiting?

Nausea and vomiting are among the most common symptoms for hangover sufferers.  Preclinical research suggests that CBD could effectively treat nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy and “other therapeutic treatments." 5 This shows promise to those who suffer from nausea and vomiting after a long night of drinking.

Mixing CBD with alcohol - CBD and alcoholism

To suggest that CBD is a cure for hangovers may be a bit presumptuous. Although there's little scientific evidence to support this theory, many people have reported they feel better after taking CBD while experiencing a hangover. Reddit users have developed a message thread of their personal experiences with hangovers and one user stated, “I can attest, CBD is super effective for hangovers." 6

To date, CBD has been dubbed a healing elixir by its users. However, the debate on whether or not mixing CBD and alcohol together is safe or wise is still to be determined. In one study, the combination of CBD and alcohol produced “significant impairments” in healthy volunteers.7 Yet, in other studies researchers see how CBD may potentially help in addictive behaviors, which could be a positive remedy for those who suffer from alcoholism.8
For now, it’s safe to say that consuming CBD away from alcohol may effectively help reduce or halt the dreaded symptoms of a hangover.

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