With the popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) growing every day, the question of whether you can mix it with coffee rapidly became a common interest for millions of people. Because let’s face it: coffee is a bit of a ”black gold” in modern society. According to a study from 2016, 75% of the US population reported drinking coffee, and 49% highlighted they drink the beverage on a daily basis.
By the way, did you know that coffee isn’t the only beverage that contains caffeine? Many soft drinks such as Coke and energy drinks contain caffeine as well, so altogether the rate of people (both children and adults) regularly consuming caffeine is believed to be somewhere at 87% in the United States. In other words, if caffeine and cannabidiol don’t mix, it seems we’ll have quite a problem to deal with in the nearest future. So, can you take CBD and coffee at the same time? To answer this question, let’s take a look at the fundamentals first!
What is CBD and how does it work?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the primary active compounds of the Cannabis sativa plant. Chemically speaking, it belongs to a group of substances known as cannabinoids. Contrary to what many people think after discovering it’s a chemical from cannabis, CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects whatsoever. In other words, it’s impossible to get high on CBD, and that’s one of the main reasons why this substance has been officially legalized by the Farm Bill of 2018. CBD is usually extracted from hemp—a special variety of cannabis that’s grown for industrial purposes. Hemp contains no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the specific compound that causes the mind-altering effects of cannabis.
So, why do people take CBD?
Whether you are a professional athlete, just need to feel relaxed or trying to improve your overall wellbeing, there are many reasons why people are getting interested in CBD. While manufacturers cannot claim any health benefits of CBD at the moment, many experts are conducting studies all around the world to expose the benefits of this cannabinoid.
So, how does CBD work?
There are still many questions on the matter of cannabidiol’s exact mechanism of action, but so far we know that it interacts with a group of receptors known as cannabinoid receptors, namely CB1 and CB2. The activation of these receptors tweaks and balances all the systems in the body, serving as a natural adaptogen.
What is caffeine and how does it work?
Caffeine is a stimulant that’s naturally found in coffee, black and green tea, and even chocolate. It’s also present in many soft drinks, virtually all energy drinks, and even sold in supplement form. Generally, caffeine is loved and used for its stimulating effect on the central nervous system. People drink coffee anytime they feel they need an extra ”boost” in energy, be it in the morning to wake up or at night to work extra hours. But have you ever wondered how exactly caffeine works?
- There is a chemical in your body known as adenosine. One of the most important functions of adenosine is promoting sleep by activating adenosine receptors. It is one of many neurotransmitters and neuromodulators affecting the complex behavior of sleep, particularly the initiation of sleep.
- Caffeine can bind to the adenosine receptors in the body, temporarily making them unavailable for adenosine. When you feel less of adenosine’s action, you feel as if your energy levels are on the rise.
Caffeine is also a scientifically confirmed and well-known ergogenic drug, meaning it can improve physical performance. Due to this effect, manufacturers of sports supplements add huge doses of caffeine to their pre-workout blends—doses as high as 375 mg per serving. For comparison, the average daily caffeine intake is estimated to be at 180 mg in adults, and 565 mg of caffeine were reported to have toxic and life-threatening effects in some people (in the form of caffeine-induced muscle breakdown).
To summarize: people all around the world take A LOT of caffeine, so it’s important to know how this substance interacts with CBD if you plan on using both at the same time.
CBD and caffeine: do they mix?
First and foremost, let’s kick off with the fact that there’s nothing wrong or dangerous in mixing caffeine and CBD. Most people don’t feel any kind of changes when they take both caffeine and CBD, and there have been no serious studies on the matter. Some caffeine-sensitive people take CBD to fight off coffee jitters, but the potential result is actually quite funny: in high doses, CBD could potentially make you VERY sleepy when combined with caffeine. Here’s how it works.
- So, as you remember, adenosine is a compound associated with sleepiness
- Caffeine binds to adenosine receptors and temporarily blocks them from being activated by adenosine. This causes a subjective rise in energy levels
- Some studies report that CBD directly boosts adenosine levels in the brain by decreasing the re-uptake of this substance. This adenosine has no effect while the adenosine receptors are blocked by caffeine
- When the adenosine receptors are free from the caffeine, all of that adenosine that has been boosted by CBD activates the adenosine receptors and cause quite a powerful urge to nap
A great illustration of this effect can be seen in the 5-day CBD coffee experiment by Healthline journalist Melissa Malamut. Depending on the dose and timing of CBD and coffee, she reported feeling went from anxiety to calm to restlessness to sleepiness, often several times per day. Ouch!
How to strike a healthy balance between CBD and coffee
It’s impossible to name any specific doses as to how much caffeine and how much CBD you should take, since this is a highly individual thing. Some people are very sensitive to the action of caffeine and suffer from coffee jitters after a few sips of latte while other folks drink 3-5 cups of espresso per day like that’s just plain water. Some people report feeling the effect of CBD after a few drops daily, while other people have to take several times more than that to experience anything at all. In other words, you’ll have to figure your personal dose on your own, and be aware that this dose is very likely to change in the future in either direction.
Here’s a rough step by step process we’d recommend following:
- To avoid the potential consequences of being sleepy at work, start mixing CBD and coffee on a weekend.
- Take your CBD as usual, then drink some coffee. Note down your dose of CBD so that you have something to tweak depending on the effects you experience.
- The half-life of caffeine is about 5-6 hours, so if you take 60 mg of caffeine (about one shot of espresso) you’ll have just 30 mg of the substance in your body after 5-6 hours. In other words, you aren’t likely to experience any sort of sleepiness due to the CBD-caffeine interaction after at least some 3-4 hours pass
- 3-4 hours after you finish your coffee, listen to your body and notice if you feel more sleepy than usual or not. If yes, you have 3 different options to go from there:
- Decrease your CBD dose
- Don’t drink coffee for at least several hours after you take your CBD
- Drink more coffee to keep the adenosine receptors blocked for longer than you’re used to
The third option isn’t very sound, as we’ve already discussed the potential effects of drinking too much coffee. Remember, everything is good in moderation!
We suggest you pick either the first or second approach, try it the next day, and see how your body responds to it.
There is no universal opinion on what is the best way to mix coffee and CBD, but one thing we know for sure: these substances are fairly safe to take together. Everything else is just a matter of individual response to the blend, so make sure to give yourself enough time to get used to the combination. Start slow, listen carefully to your body, and tweak your dosage of both CBD and coffee accordingly. Don’t worry, the worst thing that could happen is that you’d feel a bit sleepier than usual, but nothing more serious.