Does CBD Oil Help With Hangovers?

Drunk Man Lying on the Couch with Alcoholic Drinks and Wine Glass on the Floor
Written by Livvy Ashton | Last updated: July 14, 2021

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

The Endocannabinoid System Illustration on white Background

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 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?

Man on the Couch with Hangover while a Bottle and Glass of Whisky in the Table

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, to 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?

CBD Capsules With Hemp Flower in White Background

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.

Sublingual CBD

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.

Inhaled CBD

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

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.

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