As a hangover cure, cannabidiol (CBD) is gaining in popularity.
If you’ve ever overindulged in alcohol consumption, you longed for a remedy for the headache and nausea, something beyond Alka Seltzer, aspirin, and a cold compress on your forehead. Many users claim that CBD is the answer.
For hundreds and thousands of years, marijuana has been used for its antiemetic effects. An antiemetic is a drug that is effective against vomiting and nausea.
References to cannabis can be found in the Atharvaveda, a 3,600-year-old Hindu text dating to 1500 B.C. and in Chinese medical texts.
Some theorists believe that medicinal cannabis was an early development in China because hemp seed was a source of food. The progression from food use to medicinal use would be a natural one.
The anatomy of a hangover
Hangovers are an unpleasant bundle of symptoms that occur when we drink too much. They include headache, nausea or vomiting, low blood sugar, and dehydration. Drink enough alcohol, and there’s also memory loss and blurred vision. It’s dehydration and toxicity that are the culprits.
When you drink alcohol, it’s dehydrating you as you drink and metabolize it. Plus, it’s a diuretic, so you don’t retain water or electrolytes as you usually do. If you’re dehydrated, you can count on a doozy of a headache the next morning. Offset the effects of dehydration by having a glass of water (or two) between alcoholic drinks.
When it comes right down to it, alcohol is a toxin that’s essentially poisoning you. As your system metabolizes alcohol, your stomach and liver are busily processing the toxins. After all the work, the liver’s enzymes are depleted, and it needs a rest.
And low blood sugar? It’s responsible for dizziness, trembling, and sweating. It means you need to eat something, which is often precisely the opposite of what you feel like doing after a long night of drinking.
If you’re suffering nausea and vomiting, it’s because your immune system is fighting off all those threats. The effect is the same as a case of gastroenteritis. Essentially, your hangover has triggered your body’s inflammatory response to the alcohol in your system.
The intensity of your hangover will be different from one night out to the next, and it will be different from someone else’s. That’s because it depends on the liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol varies from person to person and in different situations. Naturally, it also depends on just how much alcohol you consumed.
Hydration is another factor that influences the severity of a hangover. If you’re already dehydrated, you’ll be more susceptible to a severe hangover.
CBD, a hangover cure?
The body’s nervous system and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) produces and controls the overall sensation of nausea. The ECS is a network of cellular receptors that regulate pain, inflammation, mood, and stress, among other things. These neurotransmitters regulate your bodily systems and functions.
Cannabidiol (CBD), like its psychoactive counterpart, THC, works directly and indirectly with the endocannabinoid system to relieve pain and discomfort. A 2011 study found nausea and vomiting can be regulated by the ECS and its two cell receptors, CB1 and CB2.
Researchers concluded that CB1 receptors cause the suppression of emesis (nausea/vomiting), counteracting the antagonistic effects of alcohol poisoning. The theory is that CBD indirectly activates specific receptors (somatodendritic 5-HT1A) to quell emesis.
In plain terms, CBD fights hangovers through its antiemetic effect, achieved through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiol can calm your nausea and vomiting, making for a better morning all around.
CBD for that aching head that often accompanies a hangover
CBD can also relieve your headache through its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. CBD has been proven to reduce inflammation, and the follow-on is less inflammation, less pain. Water, as mentioned earlier, will re-hydrate your system and eliminate the root cause—dehydration.
A review published in Frontiers of Pharmacology, in 2018, looked at the promising findings in how cannabinoids can be used to treat migraines. Specifically, the research examined the interaction between CBD and our CB1 receptor in the brain. That relationship has the potential to calm the nervous system’s pain response. Also, the review speculated that activated CB2 receptors can reduce migraine-induced inflammation.
If you’ve never had a migraine, let’s just say it: migraines put hangovers in the shade. Migraines produce most of the same symptoms as hangovers, and they last—possibly for days.
Other ways CBD cures your hangover
Part of being hungover is being a bit depressed by how bad you feel. Here too, CBD plays a role through its anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. A lighter mood will improve your outlook and get you going again.
Ever come out of your hangover and felt as if you were in a fog? That’s because of copious amounts of alcohol cause extreme neurodegeneration—dead brain cells. A 2013 study found that CBD, applied as patches or rub-ons, can decrease neurodegeneration by about 50%. Remember, even though you aren’t consuming alcohol in the morning, your system is still metabolizing its toxic effects. An application of CBD can save brain cells you might otherwise lose.
CBD is a powerful antioxidant, possibly even stronger than vitamins C and E. CBD, either capsules or edibles, such as gummies, can help restore the lost vitamins. It can also help by reducing the damage caused by free radicals. As an antioxidant, it combats the toxins that result from alcohol consumption.
CBD for a cure—what’s the dosage?
Cannabinoid can be a tincture, cream, balm, or oil (mixed with a carrier oil, such as MCT oil, a blend of coconut, hemp seed oil, sunflower oil, and more). It’s also available as an edible, such as gummies.
Everyone reacts differently, so dosage is a bit of trial and error. Start low and go slow; 5 milligrams is a standard starting point, and you can increase until you have the right dose for you.
Research into cannabidiol’s potential is in the early stages, so it’s hard to say with certainty that CBD is the cure-all it appears to be. The investigation is continuing, and the initial results look promising.
In the wake of New Year’s celebrations and the post-holiday lull, horrific memories of painful mornings after may be lingering still. Nobody enjoys a hangover, but if you do experience one, CBD may help.