CBD for alcohol-related disorders: research and side effects

Alcohol use disorder occurs when a person is unable to limit or control their alcohol intake despite negative consequences. Heavy drinking can lead to changes in the brain, making it more difficult to stop the behavior.

According to a 2019 survey, alcohol use disorders affect more than 14 million people over the age of 12 in the United States. However, due to the stigma associated with this condition, people may find it difficult to seek help. Only about 7.2% of people with alcohol use disorders received treatment in 2019.

You might be curious as to whether cannabidiol (CBD) can help reduce these symptoms and repair some of the damage alcohol can do to the body.

Read on to learn more about research on CBD for alcohol use disorders.

Cannabis contains many compounds, some of which are called cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are the two most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

But CBD does not cause the same effects as THC. Taking CBD alone will not make you feel high.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate CBD the same way as other products like prescription drugs. For this reason, some companies may mislabel or misrepresent their products.

For example, some sellers mistakenly market hemp oil as CBD oil. But hemp seed oil doesn’t actually contain CBD. CBD is only found in the other parts of the hemp plant, such as the stems, leaves, and flowers. It does not occur naturally in seeds.

All humans have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). Experts believe that ECS works to maintain balance in the body. But they still don’t know exactly how it works or don’t understand all of its functions.

SEC includes endocannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes. When endocannabinoids bind to receptors in the body, they produce effects such as pain relief. When these endocannabinoids complete their task, enzymes break them down.

In a 2007 animal study, the researchers found that both short-term and long-term alcohol consumption affects the level of endocannabinoids in the brains of rats. The changes occurred in areas of the brain related to emotions and other areas associated with alcohol use disorders.

Another 2005 study also suggests that SEC, especially CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain, play a role in alcohol use disorders. The study’s authors concluded that more research on this link could help experts develop therapies for the disorder.

THC and CBD also interact with ECS. THC, for example, can bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Some experts believe that CBD interacts with SEC by preventing the breakdown of endocannabinoids. But this is still only a theory. There is a lot we don’t know about how CBD works in ECS.

Researchers are currently studying the possible therapeutic effects of CBD for people with alcohol use disorders.

A 2015 review of human and animal studies suggests that CBD may help reduce addiction to cocaine, opioids, stimulants, tobacco, and cannabis.

However, the review noted that in a study of CBD and alcohol, taking the two together did not make participants less intoxicated. The reviewers did not study other aspects of alcohol use disorder.

Additional 2018 research concluded that CBD helps reduce impulsive behavior in rats addicted to alcohol or cocaine. The effects lasted for up to 5 months after the last dose of CBD.

A 2019 review of human and animal studies suggests that CBD may help people with alcohol use disorders reduce their alcohol intake. The review also suggests that CBD may have neuroprotective effects against alcohol-related brain damage.

A 2018 study in mice, looked at low doses of CBD combined with naltrexone, an FDA-approved drug to treat alcohol use disorders. Combined CBD and naltrexone were more effective at reducing alcohol consumption than either alone. But clinical trials are needed to better understand the role of CBD in alcohol use disorders.

It’s important to keep in mind that much of the research on CBD for alcohol use disorders involves animals, not humans. Animal studies are not necessarily a good indicator of how CBD will work in humans.

Clinical tests will ultimately provide researchers with a better understanding of how CBD can help fight alcohol use disorders.

Drinking too much alcohol can strain your liver. Eventually, this can lead to a condition called alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD). ARLD can cause liver failure and potentially shorten your life expectancy.

A 2019 review suggests that in addition to reducing alcohol consumption in people with alcohol use disorders, CBD may also prevent liver inflammation and damage from excessive alcohol consumption.

However, all of the studies included in this review were animal studies. Human studies will help researchers understand how CBD helps prevent liver damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

Also a animal study 2019 found that very high doses of CBD – the equivalent of 200 milligrams per kilogram of body weight – could in fact cause liver damage.

More research is needed to be sure how CBD affects the liver.

Taking small amounts of CBD is unlikely to cause serious side effects, which is why many people, including researchers, are eager to learn more about its potential health benefits.

In some cases, CBD can cause:

  • tired
  • weight changes
  • diarrhea

Even though side effects are likely to be mild, talk to your doctor before taking CBD. This is because it can interact with certain medications, like those with a grapefruit warning.

If you have an alcohol use disorder and want to give CBD a try to see if it helps, know that there is a potential for each substance to amplify the effects of the other.

Alcohol and CBD, for example, promote relaxation. And taking the two together can increase their sedative effects.

A 1979 double-blind, crossover, randomized study found that the combination of alcohol and CBD resulted in significantly lower blood alcohol levels compared to drinking alcohol alone. But the combination of the two substances also caused significant motor impairment.

It’s important to note that while these results are interesting, the study involved a very small group of volunteers – only six men and four women.

Other than this outdated study, there is little research on what happens if you mix CBD and alcohol.

Based on current research, The World Health Organization (WHO) says CBD does not appear to have any potential for abuse or addiction.

In reality, animal studies suggest that CBD may actually help treat certain types of addiction.

However, more research is needed to understand the role of CBD in helping with substance use disorders.

When buying CBD, choosing a quality product is crucial. But it can be difficult to sort through all the options in the market. Here’s what to keep in mind when shopping:

Type of CBD

Full spectrum products may produce more noticeable effects due to the entourage effect, which says THC and CBD work better together than they do on their own.

Isolates are a good choice if you want to avoid THC.

Broad spectrum CBD products do not contain THC, but they do contain terpenes and flavonoids, so they may offer some of the benefits of the entourage effect.

Third party testing

Since CBD products are not regulated in the same way as prescription drugs, it is essential to research CBD from companies that test their products in third-party labs.

Look for products that come with a Certificate of Analysis (COA).

You will want to check:

  • if the power on the COA matches the product label
  • for test results for contaminants, including things like mold and pesticides
  • the date of the COA – it must be recent

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends talking with your doctor about alcohol use disorders if you answer “yes” to at least two of the following questions.

In the past year, have you:

  • Have you had times when you drank longer or more than expected?
  • Wanted to stop or reduce your alcohol consumption, but couldn’t?
  • Have you had a strong urge or urge to drink?
  • Did you spend a lot of your time drinking or getting sick after drinking?
  • Have you noticed that alcohol consumption interferes with your relationships, work or studies?
  • Did you stop doing things you loved to do so that you could drink?
  • Participated in risky behavior while or after drinking?
  • Did you continue to drink even though it made you feel bad, physically or mentally?
  • Did you need to drink more to get the same effects?
  • Have you had any withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, nausea, restlessness or sweating?

If you don’t feel comfortable contacting your doctor, you can also consider speaking with a therapist or joining a support group, in person or online.

Alcohol use disorder is a serious illness, but treatment options are available.

Some people may find it helpful to include CBD in their treatment plan. However, at this time, the evidence behind the use of CBD for alcohol use disorders is fragile at best and primarily based on animal studies.

If you think you are suffering from this medical condition, talk to a doctor to determine a treatment plan. This may involve counseling, taking medication, or participating in support groups.

Is CBD Legal? CBD products derived from hemp (with less than 0.3% THC) are legal at the federal level, but are still illegal in some cases. state laws. CBD products derived from marijuana are illegal at the federal level, but are legal under certain state laws. Check the laws of your state and those of any place you travel. Keep in mind that non-prescription CBD products are not approved by the FDA and may be labeled inaccurately.

Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine with a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not clicking on her keyboard, she probably has her nose in a good book.

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