As time goes on, researchers have been finding more and more ways that CBD may have positive effects on the brain, physical health, and overall wellness. While many of these effects are well-known and reported, one that many people don’t know about is the relationship between CBD and alcohol intake.
Through this research, some people have been using CBD for alcoholism, or simply using CBD instead of alcohol when it’s appropriate.
But how are the two related?
We want to talk about it. If you’re wondering “can CBD help me lower my alcohol intake?” or “can CBD reduce my beer intake?” this is the article for you. Keep reading to learn more so you can make an informed choice about your wellness.
CBD and Alcohol: What’s the Connection?
There’s evidence to suggest that CBD can lower the overall alcohol intake of someone who has difficulty managing alcohol (though not necessarily a problem with alcoholism).
There are several ways that this works. CBD’s effect on mental health and pain may influence people to turn away from alcohol in favor of CBD (we’ll discuss why people drink and how CBD can help later in the article).
CBD may also reduce inflammation in the liver and the brain. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation of all kinds.
When there’s no inflammation in the liver, the alcohol that you do take in won’t be as harmful to the body. When you reduce inflammation in the brain, the alcohol may not be as risky (meaning that there may not be as much of a risk of brain damage or other harm).
To further explore how CBD and alcohol are related, we need to discuss how each of them impacts the brain.
How Does Alcohol Impact the Brain?
Alcohol is a depressant. This means that it lowers brain activity. Depressants lower stimulation and arousal and slow down the connections between the brain and the body. This is why people become “impaired” after consuming alcohol.
Many people enjoy alcohol with friends from time to time, but others use it habitually. When you use alcohol often, you can develop a dependence (which means that your brain no longer experiences the “positive” effects of alcohol from low amounts).
This also means that you won’t feel as much joy or other positive emotions without using alcohol.
We absorb alcohol through our stomach where it’s dispersed into the bloodstream. It works its way to the brain in 5 minutes.
How Does CBD Impact the Brain?
CBD is non-psychoactive. It’s not classified as a depressant, though it does have a positive effect on anxiety and insomnia (which are common in depressants).
When you consume CBD, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system to activate the inhibitory response in the serotonin receptor. For reference: SSRIs (common antidepressants) are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors.
While CBD isn’t a replacement for SSRIs, they do have similar (if less extreme) abilities.
The endocannabinoid system also regulates sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and several other functions that scientists are still researching.
CBD and Alcoholism
So what if someone already suffers from an alcohol use disorder (or the professional term for alcoholism)?
CBD may still be able to help.
CBD reduces impulsivity, one of the driving factors behind initial alcohol consumption and one of the after-effects of drinking alcohol. Impulsivity is what causes people to do dangerous things after drinking.
It may also reduce the urge to consume more alcohol.
When someone is going through withdrawal from alcohol, CBD may lessen the effects. It reduces cravings (including alcohol cravings) and the pain associated with withdrawal. Withdrawal is often what encourages someone to continue drinking.
Why Do People Drink (and Why Would CBD Help)?
So why would any of this result in an overall reduction of alcohol intake? Aside from what was already mentioned, CBD may reduce the triggers that cause people to drink in the first place.
As we mentioned, people who drink from time to time aren’t a problem. Moderate and controlled use of alcohol is normal and not very detrimental to your health. The problem arises when people use alcohol to get therapeutic benefits.
With alcohol, these benefits aren’t real. Alcohol may work in the short term, but the results are temporary and the overall negative impact on your health aren’t worth it (and that impact may be long-term).
Let’s talk about some of the reasons that people drink.
Some people get into the habit of drinking to help themselves sleep. The idea of a “nightcap,” or even a glass of wine to make you drowsy, is normal.
While people may think that this works, in reality, it may be more harmful than helpful. You are likely to fall asleep soon after drinking (unless you take a medication or other substance that inhibits sleep when in combination with alcohol) but this won’t be proper sleep.
Alcohol inhibits REM sleep. This means that your sleep won’t be as deep or restful as it would be otherwise without the alcohol. This doesn’t get to the root of the problem of insomnia.
Research suggests that CBD, on the other hand, may have effects that influence more (and better) sleep.
When people suffer from insomnia or other sleep irregularities, it’s often because they have high levels of cortisol (or cortisol spikes) at night when they’re trying to sleep. For people without sleep problems, cortisol is high in the morning (to wake us up).
CBD, in high dosages, may reduce cortisol to a manageable level so people are able to fall asleep (and stay asleep for longer).
There’s not enough research yet to determine whether or not CBD as a sleep aid is sustainable in the long term, but when used in moderation many people have reported better and deeper sleep.
Many people use alcohol to reduce their anxiety levels (or otherwise manage the emotional effects of their mental health). Whether it’s to address social anxiety, standard anxiety, chronic anxiety, or overall stress, alcohol’s inhibitory effect is calming.
Again, a single drink to calm the nerves isn’t usually a problem. People who use alcohol for chronic anxiety, though, use it often. Many people think that it’s safer than taking common anti-anxiety medications prescribed by a doctor, but this isn’t true.
Research shows that CBD has an overall positive effect on anxiety, even in lower doses. It’s one of the primary reasons that people start taking CBD.
Because CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, it helps to influence mood. This means that it may quell anxiety and boost the mood of people who are suffering from depression.
Again, CBD is not a replacement for medications that your doctor prescribes. It is, however, a better and more sustainable solution than alcohol without the adverse effects.
Other people use alcohol to manage chronic pain. Similar to opioids, alcohol may reduce the pain response due to its ability to slow down the connection between the body and the brain.
This isn’t sustainable pain relief. While opioid painkillers are dangerous, drinking alcohol in excess is no safer. It still results in addiction and harm to the body and brain.
CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is one of the things that cause the pain response.
CBD may inhibit and alter the regulation of cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that are synthesized and activated by immune cells. These cytokines are one of the activators for inflammation.
People with both chronic pain and situational pain (such as pain after an accident, stomach pain, or muscle pain) benefit from CBD.
How Well-Researched Is This?
CBD research is still new. Scientists work to find new ways in which to use CBD for therapeutic benefits, but before the Farm Bill in 2018, this was difficult.
CBD’s impact on anxiety and insomnia has been recorded in clinical trials on humans. The effects on alcoholism and pain were mostly done on rats. This doesn’t make the research less valid, it means that they’ll put more research in before human trials are viable.
In other words, it’s well-researched and being updated as more information arises.
Would You Try CBD to Reduce Your Alcohol Intake?
If you’re worried that you’re drinking too much, CBD might be a good solution. Whether you drink from time to time but you’re worried about your weight, or you think you might be approaching an alcohol use disorder, CBD is an alternative.
While CBD won’t produce the euphoria or other psychoactive effects that alcohol does, it helps soothe anxiety, pain, and insomnia, giving you fewer reasons to drink. Between CBD and alcohol, CBD is the less harmful solution.
Is it time to give it a try?
If you’re looking for great CBD products for your wellness, we’re here to help. Visit our shop to check out our array of CBD items to find what’s right for you.