CBD Might Be Able to Cure Your Hangover—And Everything That Comes With It
Is there anything CBD can’t do?
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Life offers many things worth indulging in. But when it comes to alcohol, having one too many drinks doesn’t necessarily feel all that nice once the party is over. Your head is pounding, your stomach is tied in knots, and your ability to get up and go is gone—all of which best describes the dreaded hangover.
The term can basically be defined as veisalgia, a cluster of symptoms that occur after drinking too much alcohol, but they don’t happen immediately after. Instead, they show themselves the next day, typically when your blood alcohol concentration levels drop near zero. Why do they suck so much? Because you don’t feel symptoms right away, this delayed response might cause you to drink more (which can cause your body even more issues).
Thankfully, nature offers a pretty awesome solution for helping with a hangover’s mentally and physically draining symptoms. No, it’s not burned toast or shrimp, remedies that have been rumored as hangover cure-alls in the past. It’s CBD, aka cannabidiol. Not that we need reminding, but the key signs of a hangover often include low blood sugar, nausea, dehydration, anxiety, fatigue, a lowered immunity, and many others. If you overdid it last night and are looking for a natural alternative, CBD may be able to help you rebound quickly. Up and at ’em, right?
The Morning-After Science of Hangovers
Ah yes, the hangover, a phenomenon experts still surprisingly know very little about. Some have theorized alcohol disrupts the flow of our biological functioning, while others believe alcohol withdrawal is to blame. Whatever the cause, one thing’s for certain, it’s a shitshow. And it starts with the liver. Once metabolized, alcohol’s ethanol converts into a hangover-inducing toxin called acetaldehyde, which causes liver detoxification. In a nutshell, this ethanol metabolic process is split into two main phases.
In phase one, alcohol travels through a series of (rather complex) enzymatic pathways, and will eventually get detoxified (or made less toxic) by cytochrome P450, an enigmatic enzyme largely present in the liver. During this process, free radicals are typically formed and quarried by antioxidants in a normally functioning body. However, the overindulgence of alcohol causes increased toxicity, which causes the liver to work a little harder. During phase two, chemicals like acetaldehyde produced in the first phase are mixed in with metabolites by liver cells and rendered into water-soluble or “low-weight” compounds. That way, they can be excreted safely from the body to prevent increased toxicity.
These symptoms oftentimes depend on the person. Some people are blessed with a life of little to no hangover symptoms, while others suffer without mercy. Water, sugary drinks, electrolytic drinks, medications, waiting it out, sweating it out, sleeping it off, eating healthy (or unhealthy) foods, and even having another alcoholic beverage are a few commonly used homespun remedies for curing a hangover. However, sometimes they aren’t efficient enough to get the job done (and can even do more harm than help for replenishing all that was lost overnight). Though we are in the beginning stages of research, many studies already confirm what the researchers suspected for a long time: Cannabis possesses great healing power. The plant offers the kind of natural relief that can reverse these metabolic consequences of ethanol and minimize your suffering without adding any negative side effects into the mix.
The Relief Without the High
Cannabis is a very complex plant, with a vast amount of bioactive chemicals that act in synergy. One of 113 cannabinoids abundantly found in cannabis is CBD (short for cannabidiol), which is mainly found in hemp plants. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it’s non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t cause the mind-altering effects normally associated with marijuana. Instead of being consumed recreationally like THC, CBD is mainly used for medicinal purposes, all credit due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-anxiolytic, and antiepileptic properties.
The effectiveness of cannabis for hangovers is best explained by the existence of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), endo meaning “within.” Discovered back in the early ’90s, this extraordinary biological system exists in all living vertebrates and mainly consists of cannabinoid (CB) receptors known as CB1 and CB2. Researchers suggest they help regulate vital health functions in the body, such as sleep, appetite, pain, or the immune response. But the overconsumption of alcohol can greatly affect the functionality of these CB receptors (and several others), which puts your ECS off-balance. When you really think about it, most health problems are the result of an imbalance. But cannabis’ CBD has been shown to get ECS back on track by restoring homeostasis, or balance, through its indirect interaction with CB1 and CB2 receptors—the root of its many health benefits.
#1 Brain Fog
A 2013 study found that large amounts of alcohol causes extreme neurodegeneration, however, the transdermal application of CBD was able to decrease neurodegeneration by nearly 50%.
#2 Dehydration and Related Symptoms
Your monster migraine comes from dehydration and an imbalanced endocannabinoid system (or Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED), as theorized by researcher Ethan Russo M.D of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute). Alcohol is a diuretic that causes your body to have an inflammatory response in your immune system. Like Tylenol, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties have a positive effect on aches and pains after a night of partying. Even better is the fact that CBD doesn’t produce any negative effects when consumed with alcohol like some other medications.
#3 Nausea and Vomiting
Feeling nauseous after too many tequila shots? We’ve all been there. Alcohol is an irritant in your system and can increase acid in the stomach as well as an inflamed stomach lining, but studies show that CBD can help quell the queasy storm.
#4 Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression following a night of drinking can be due at least in part to increased cortisol levels in your brain and other alcohol-induced symptoms. The anxiolytic effect of CBD is similar in efficacy to anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants through its interaction with serotonin 5HT1-A receptors (they regulate anxiety and fear, specifically). The CBD helps you get past worrying about all the wrong things, by easing your brain’s response to stress and maintaining your cortisol levels.
#5 Alcohol Toxicity
When we are hungover, our bodies are in serious need of a boost. As mentioned, CBD is a powerful antioxidant—some suggest even more powerful than vitamin C and E—that when consumed after drinking could put vitamins back into your body and help reduce free radical damage by flushing out toxins (such as acetaldehyde).
Dosing with CBD
Let’s just face it, hangovers are kind of the worst and can make you vow to never to drink alcohol again. While there isn’t enough evidence to say with absolute certainty that CBD is a cure for a hangover, science seems to show that the cannabinoid can help the body in more ways than one—hangover or not. To find out if it’s worth adding to your self-care arsenal, between your snoozing and rehydrating, it may be worth the experimentation to help you stay on top of your cleansing and detoxification needs after a long night of drinking.
The cannabinoid can be vaporized, added to foods and beverages as a tincture, or used topically in creams, balms, and salves. Though it’s important to note that everyone metabolizes CBD differently, thus, it will affect everyone differently. CBD is a personal experience, which can make dosing a bit tricky to gauge, however, the standard is around 5 mg. A good rule of thumb: start low and slowly increase until you find your sweet spot.
CBD might be the hangover cure you've been searching for. Here, we're sharing how CBD can help with the physical and mental symptoms of a hangover.
How to recover from a weed hangover
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- What is a weed hangover?
- What causes weed hangovers?
- Research on weed hangovers
- How do I get over a weed hangover?
- Can I prevent a weed hangover?
You may associate a hangover with alcohol, but it is possible for marijuana to have similar effects the next day. The difference between an alcohol hangover and a weed hangover lies in the symptoms. While nausea, dehydration, and insomnia are commonly experienced among those with alcohol hangovers, the hangover effects of too much cannabis may differ.
Here you’ll learn all about the causes and symptoms of weed hangovers, what the experts say on the subject, how to treat weed hangovers , and how to prevent them.
What is a weed hangover?
Weed hangovers occur when you consume more than your personal limit of marijuana. Only you know exactly what that means for your body as tolerance levels vary greatly from one individual to another. Some other factors that influence whether you get a hangover and what the severity will be include the strain you consumed and the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. Cannabis with higher levels of THC makes hangovers more likely, especially if you have consumed beyond your tolerance level.
Weed hangovers occur when you consume more than your personal limit of marijuana. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Further, you are more likely to experience a hangover if you have consumed edibles as they metabolize slowly in the body and may still be active the next morning. A pot brownie or cannabis cookie, then, may cause more hangover symptoms than a joint. If you are making edibles, be sure to stick to a recipe that won’t push your limits. Marijuana smoking or vaping, overall, is less likely to lead to a hangover, although the possibility does exist.
Common weed hangover symptoms may include:
- Brain fog and inability to focus
- Dull, persistent headache
- Dry, itchy eyes
- Grogginess or fatigue
- Cottonmouth (but not systemic dehydration as occurs after drinking too much alcohol)
- Sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises
- Lingering sensation of being high
What causes weed hangovers?
Overconsumption of cannabis, particularly strains high in mood-altering THC, is the main cause of a marijuana hangover. Strains that contain close to 20% or more THC are the most likely culprits. Some of these THC-heavy strains include White Fire OG, Sour Diesel, Chemdog, and, not surprisingly, Amnesia Haze.
Other lifestyle factors may also affect how you feel the day after cannabis use. A poor diet and lack of exercise can make someone more susceptible to feeling ill after a night of indulgence. The healthier your lifestyle, the more likely it is for your body chemistry to be in balance and have the ability to stave off hangovers.
Finally, how often you consume marijuana could influence the likelihood of a hangover. Regular cannabis consumers may want to cut back on their usage and practice moderation. For example, someone who is consuming marijuana daily may want to try using every other day or exclusively on weekends to keep hangovers at bay and potentially eliminate them. Changing the time of day you consume cannabis is another possible experiment. Try consuming early in the evening rather than late at night and see if there is any change.
Research on weed hangovers
A number of older scientific studies offer insight into the residual effects of smoking weed and the associated biological processes. For example a 2006 study published in the journal “Experimental Biology and Medicine” showed that marijuana use decreases saliva secretion , which can explain dry mouth. A lack of saliva in the mouth does not, however, lead to or signify full body dehydration, a departure from the aftermath of over consuming alcohol.
Other studies have fueled debate as to whether a weed hangover is a real phenomenon or a figment of the imagination. A 1998 study published in the journal “Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior” found the effects of smoking marijuana to be minimal with an increase in heart rate as the most significant acute result . However, minimal effects were present the following day. The authors concluded that smoking a marijuana cigarette did not have a significant impact on the body or brain in subsequent days. Notably, this study had a small sample size of just 10 individuals, all of whom were men, so these findings may not prove accurate across a wider and more diverse population.
An even earlier study published in 1985 in the journal “Drug and Alcohol Dependence” found similar acute signs, such as increased heart rate, along with altered performance in behavioral tasks . These tasks included sorting cards and free recall. Researchers noted that there were some possible hangover indications, but, “the precise nature and extent of these effects, as well as their practical implications, remain to be determined.” The subjects, all male as in the 1998 study, received either placebo joints or marijuana cigarettes containing a low level of THC (2.9%). The results could have been quite different if the THC content had been higher or, again, if a wider and more heterogeneous sample population had been tested.
Very little additional research exists on this topic. Clearly,fresh studies and perspectives are needed.
Research aside, you know your body and you know if you are experiencing a hangover. So, if a marijuana hangover hits, what can you do to recover from it?
How do I get over a weed hangover?
Though you might be tempted to stay in bed all day, the most effective way to shake off the unwanted after effects of excess cannabis consumption is to move your body. Another key component of the recovery process is healthy food, along with hydration, relaxation, and if you are so inclined, meditation.
Key components of the recovery process are exercise, healthy food, along with hydration, relaxation, and if you are so inclined, meditation. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Here are five healthy home remedies to help you conquer a weed hangover and feel better in the process.
- Get out in the fresh air and take a brisk walk. Breathe deeply as you walk, flooding the brain and lungs with a new supply of oxygen, and clearing away any mental fogginess. Walk for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour to maximize the positive effects.
- Roll out a yoga mat and do a few gentle stretches while focusing on cleansing, deep breaths. Back bends that open the chest and allow the body to take in more oxygen are especially beneficial. A brief five-minute period of meditation and visualization can round out your yoga practice and leave you feeling invigorated.
- Eat a power breakfast, whether that means a homemade turkey omelet or a vegan bowl of steel-cut oatmeal and fresh berries. Whatever you choose, keep it natural and nourish your body with nutrient-rich food.
- A tall glass of water is a basic way to combat any hangover, but you might want to elevate it to the next level with a caffeine infusion. Coffee or tea can help stimulate the mind and give your body a much needed energy boost. If a headache persists, lemon water with two Tylenol or another pain reliever could offer quick relief.
- If you can’t bring yourself to eat or exercise, simply step into a cool shower and refresh your senses with soothing water. The pressure from the water can have therapeutic effects, massaging and easing tight muscles.
Keep eliminating the hangover throughout the day by practicing healthy habits including balanced eating and moderate exercise. When the sun goes down, consider going to bed a bit earlier than usual, and abstain from consuming or smoking marijuana until you’re feeling in peak condition. While you’re on the mend consider applying CBD oil to affected areas such as the temples or neck if you feel any lingering discomfort. Topical CBD preparations can relieve pain in some individuals.
Can I prevent a weed hangover?
The best way to prevent a marijuana hangover is to know your personal limits and adhere to them. Smoking rather than consuming edibles is another strategy that may work. In addition, seek out strains that are lower in THC, such as Euphoria, an indica-dominant variety which caps out at a manageable 9% THC. Easy Bud, clocking in at around 12% THC content, is another good choice. There are many strains geared towards beginners and others who may be more sensitive to the effects of THC. The higher the ratio of cannabidiol (CBD) to THC, the less likely you are to feel hungover.
If you are using marijuana alongside alcohol and tobacco, try curbing the use of the latter two products and see if that makes a difference. If you continue to feel unwell after using marijuana, consult with your healthcare provider to see if there could be an underlying medical issue.
In the end, knowing and honoring your body’s boundaries is the best way to prevent marijuana hangovers while enjoying the many potential benefits of the plant.
How to recover from a weed hangover Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is a weed hangover? What causes weed hangovers? Research on