This might be a bit of an unfair comparison in some ways.
One of the many reasons CBD products have become so insanely popular s because, in essence, they don’t contain one of the variables that makes alcohol consumption potentially dangerous: its mind altering effects. But at the same time, can we even place CBD and alcohol in the same family of products? Some people seek out alcohol precisely for these effects, and these people will probably not change that print on a Friday evening to a CBD infused night cap.
Where heavy or prolonged alcohol consumption has come to be associated largely with something that causes health complications, CBD use has been associated with overall improved health. CBD even targets some of the maladies that can result from alcohol, like high cholesterol, inflammation and neurodegeneration, and depression (but more about this later). It almost goes without saying that CBD is a whole lot healthier than alcohol, but why is this the case, and does that make it superior?
As we’ve already hinted at, CBD’s non-psychoactive effects and health perks are appealing to a certain audience. Are you one of these curious explorers, deliberating about making the transition from alcohol to CBD? What are the benefits and potential downfalls, and is it worth it?
How Does Alcohol Affect our Systems?
Let’s start with our classic contender, alcohol. Why do we drink alcohol in the first place? Well, if we’re careful about it, it’s ability to inebriate us is rather pleasant. The right amount of wine on a Wednesday after work indeed seems like it’s doing a world of good: Reduced anxiety (forget that coworker who ruined your day), increased social lubrication and confidence, reduced bodily aches and pains.
But if we take a closer look, what does that word, inebriate, actually mean? Well, technically it just sort of means ‘intoxicate’, but anything that contains the word ‘toxic’ can’t be all that great, right? Indeed, intoxication indicates a loss of faculties and control, a poisoning of the system.
And when you consider what alcohol is doing to our systems, this is definitely the case. A nervous system depressant, alcohol impairs the regular functioning of the brain. So even if it seems like you’re on top of the world after a glass or wee dram, you’re only really masking those anxieties and bodily pains. And, come the next morning, you can certainly tell that alcohol has not done anything good for our systems.
Alcohol: Side Effects?
Take your pick. There are a wide range of short term side effects of alcohol, like slurred speech, loss of balance, impaired vision, and who’s to say that inhibition is a good thing? If things get a bit out of control, you could be dealing with nausea, blackouts, bad decisions, and regrets.
But more than even these, the long term effects of alcohol are, well, sobering. See, alcohol is an addictive substance, meaning that we can grow physical and psychological dependencies towards it. Ethanol in alcohol begins to replace food in terms of calories, meaning it creates an ever increasing craving, ultimately leading to malnutrition, among other things. So even if we’re fully aware that in the long run, alcohol can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cirrosis, several types of cancer, depression, etc. we might not be able to easily quit.
How Does CBD Affect our Systems?
If we turn our attention to CBD, a very different story, a very different substance with very different effects, emerges. For one, CBD isn’t psychoactive (unlike THC) and does not cause intoxication, or addiction. Moreover, the way it interacts with our bodies and brains is totally different to alcohol. CBD is a cannabinoid, a naturally occurring substance that interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. But rather than affecting the ECS itself, CBD instead activates or inhibits other compounds in this system.
CBD: Side Effects?
The fact is, CBD is a naturally occurring substance that interacts with our ECS, promoting our bodies to do the things that the ECS is known for: reducing pain and anxieties, helping sleep, and even potentially helping to prevent a plethora of other conditions. Rather than masking and poisoning, CBD helps our bodies and minds manage, heal, and prevent.
That being said, CBD as it stands right now doesn’t have any known side effects, short term or long term. And this would make sense, since by taking CBD we’re not putting anything foreign into our bodies, quite simply, we don’t end up with cravings for things our body isn’t producing anyways.
Health Benefits of CBD over Alcohol
So, for many reasons, CBD is better for you than that pint, or those ten pints. But what’s even more fascinating is that CBD does not seem to interact adversely with alcohol, and it might not be too far of a leap to consider using CBD to combat some of the symptoms of alcohol, and even some of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Although studies are still quite ongoing, CBD has demonstrated definitive results in reducing stress and anxiety, something that can become increased when heavier drinkers try to quit. As alcohol is a sedative, when that sedation ceases, our bodies feel over-stimulated. This can even be the case for casual or binge drinkers.
Moreover, the slow paced neurological damage that alcohol causes can be prevented with regular CBD usage, and it might even help to reverse some of this damage.
This is also true for the cell damage that alcohol use can cause, which leads to inflammation, certain types of cancer, liver disease, to name a few. Preliminary studies have shown promising results in decreasing brain-cell damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption, protecting against fatty liver disease by promoting cell regeneration, and might even lower blood alcohol levels.
So what does all of this information mean? Well, if you want to cut down on your alcohol intake, not only can CBD potentially help to replace it, but it can also help repair the damage that it’s already caused. But we cannot forget that CBD will not give the same mind-altering, inhibition inducing state, and probably won’t lead to an off the cuff karaoke session at 2 am on a Wednesday morning.
What I mean is, the will must be willing. If now is your time to start focusing on making your body and mind more healthy for the future, and to start repairing some of the inevitable damage caused by surviving your 20’s (or 30’s, or 40’s), CBD could be an excellent replacement, and mercifully non judgemental helping hand. It’s important to always talk to a medical professional, and to choose a high quality product that is tried and tested by a reputable lab, no matter what your reason for taking CBD.