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 and easing anxiety.
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 anxiety, 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 trigger feelings of anxiety and depression by increasing your brain's cortisol levels. CBD acts similarly to anti-anxiety medications by interacting 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.