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Hangovers — the intense symptoms that can come after drinking too much alcohol — can be a doozy.

Odds are, if you’ve experienced one (or several), you’ve probably tested some potential hangover cures. Maybe you’ve even wondered if cannabidiol (CBD) can help.

CBD isn’t a hangover cure, but it may help with some of your hangover symptoms.

Keep reading to learn what the research says about CBD’s effectiveness on hangovers.

CBD glossary

There are three main forms of CBD:

  • Full-spectrum. This form of CBD has all the naturally available compounds of the cannabis plant, including some tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Usually, hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD contains no more than 0.3 percent THC at its dry weight.
  • Broad-spectrum. This form contains most of the naturally occurring cannabis compounds, but it doesn’t include THC. Broad-spectrum CBD should still contain terpenes and flavonoids.
  • Isolate. This is CBD’s purest form. To make isolate, CBD is removed from the other compounds of the hemp plant.
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The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system. It was found by early 1990s researchers analyzing THC.

While researchers are still studying the ECS, so far we know that it’s active in all bodies and plays a role in regulating a variety of functions and processes. These include:

  • sleep
  • mood
  • appetite
  • memory
  • reproduction and fertility

CBD works in the body by interacting with the ECS. Alcohol also interacts with the ECS, but unlike CBD, the effects are negative.

Long-term alcohol use may lead to serious imbalances in the endocannabinoid system. Research also shows that even short-term alcohol consumption can have unpleasant effects on the system.

For example, a 2007 study performed on rats looked at changes in their endocannabinoid levels when they were given a liquid alcohol diet for 24 hours.

Researchers found that short-term alcohol exposure lowered endocannabinoid levels in the brain. They also saw a decrease in several related N-acylethanolamines — a substance chemically comparable to cannabinoids that has been related to improved mood, according to a 2013 research review.

These effects happen in brain regions that are associated with stress, emotion, feeding, and motor-related processes — areas that are linked to the development of alcohol addiction.

Since both CBD and alcohol interact with the ECS, some people wonder whether CBD can help reduce hangover symptoms.

It’s probably not a good idea to think of CBD as a hangover cure. However, CBD may help improve some hangover effects.

For instance, some people may take CBD for migraine and nausea. A 2011 review of animal studies showed that CBD might be able to help stop nausea and vomiting. However, there isn’t much research on CBD for migraine.

Research also suggests that CBD may be able to help with inflammation, which can be brought on by consuming a lot of alcohol. One 2010 study showed increased levels of the inflammatory marker CRP in people who consumed alcohol. In fact, the more they drank, the higher their CRP levels increased.

Available research suggests that, on a chemical level, CBD may lessen inflammation by affecting activity in the body’s endocannabinoid receptors, one of the three core components of the endocannabinoid system.

Still, there isn’t enough research ye to recommend CBD as a hangover cure. More evidence is needed before we can determine CBD’s therapeutic potential, as well as the proper dosage.

Even though CBD may have some positive effects, it can also cause side effects like nausea and fatigue for some people. This, of course, is not helpful during a hangover.

If your hangover symptoms usually include a good deal of nausea, it may be a better idea to try a different remedy for your symptoms.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that CBD is overall thought to be safe. But as we mentioned, some people may experience side effects, like:

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

Additionally, when weighing the pros and cons of CBD, it’s important to keep in mind that over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at this time. The only FDA-approved drug containing CBD is prescription Epidiolex, a medication that treats two rare types of epilepsy.

It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before trying CBD. This is an especially good idea if you’re taking any medications, as CBD may interact with many drugs.

If you do choose to try CBD for your hangover or other health conditions, it’s important that you find a quality product.

Like we mentioned, the FDA hasn’t approved any OTC CBD products yet. This means you’ll have to do some careful research to find a safe and ideal CBD product for you.

Here are some best practices for finding a quality CBD product.

Find a transparent CBD brand and buy directly

CBD companies shouldn’t leave you to do the guesswork — their websites should be clear and direct about how they create their products and where their hemp is grown.

It’s important to buy the product directly from the company’s website and avoid online marketplaces — including and especially Amazon, which doesn’t permit CBD sales.

CBD items sold on Amazon’s website are probably fake products, or they may simply be hempseed oil products. CBD is only found in the flowers, leaves, and stalks of the hemp plant. It’s not found in the seeds.

Do some reputation research

After finding a CBD brand that seems best for you, do a quick search to check if the company has any pending lawsuits or has received any warning letters from the FDA.

It’s also a good idea to check online reviews. Keep in mind that some brand websites may only publish positive reviews. This is where third-party review sites can come in handy if the company has a profile on one. If not, it can be hard to tell how customers really feel about their products.

Check ingredients carefully

It’s best to look at the product’s listed ingredients. This is where you can find out if the product has any ingredients you may be allergic to, or if it includes any added ingredients that may be useful for the condition you’re looking to treat.

Look at third-party lab tests

This is one of the most important steps in finding a quality product. A third-party lab test, or certificate of analysis (COA), will show you the testing your product has undergone.

This includes displaying exactly how much CBD and THC the product has. You can cross-reference the COA with the product label to see if the CBD and THC concentrations match the company’s advertised claims.

You can also check the COA to see if the product has been tested for contaminants, like mold, pesticides, and heavy metals.

It’s best to buy from brands that test each and every batch of their products. Be sure to review the COA for your specific batch.

If CBD doesn’t sound right for addressing your hangover, you can also try these traditional home remedies to ease your symptoms:

It’s important to know the difference between typical hangover symptoms and signs of alcohol poisoning, also known as alcohol overdose. Alcohol poisoning is serious and can be life threatening.

Alcohol overdose symptoms include:

  • vomiting
  • changes in mental state, including confusion
  • a drop in body temperature, known as hypothermia
  • passing out or unconsciousness

Alcohol depresses your nervous system, which means you can also experience serious complications from drinking at a rate that’s too fast for your liver to process. This can bring on complications such as:

  • slowed or stopping breathing, heart rate, and gag reflex (these are all managed by your nervous system)
  • cardiac arrest after a drop in your body temperature or hypothermia
  • seizures because of low blood sugar levels

While these are all signs of alcohol poisoning, someone can still experience an alcohol overdose without all these signs present.

If someone is unable to be woken up or has a slowed breathing rate of fewer than eight breaths per minute, call 911 or local emergency services.

CBD may be able to help with headaches, inflammation, nausea, and vomiting for some people. But it may also cause some side effects like nausea and fatigue, which isn’t ideal if you have a hangover.

Recovering from a hangover is often best done by hydrating, getting rest, and filling up on a hearty meal.

If you decide to try CBD to help manage a headache, inflammation, or other symptoms, make sure you’re buying from a reputable brand that has a positive reputation and doesn’t have any pending lawsuits or warning letters from the FDA.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Breanna Mona is a writer based in Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a master’s degree in media and journalism and writes about health, lifestyle, and entertainment.