How to Overcome a Cannabis Hangover

One of the most appealing benefits of responsibly using legal cannabis products rather than guzzling alcohol is that a night of boozing can nearly kill the victim in the morning whereas a cannabis hangover is rumored not to exist.

The avoidance of alcohol poisoning in the aftermath of a spree is a massive added benefit of medical and adult recreational use of cannabis. However, the marijuana hangover, though far less catastrophic than its ethanol counterpart, may be a real consequence.

If you use medical cannabis one evening to address a chronic health condition, and in the morning, you wake with a “foggy, non-alert feeling,” you may be experiencing a cannabis hangover, as described by a 2017 study, “Chronic Pain Patients’ Perspectives of Cannabis,”

Published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Heathline lists other symptoms of theoretical marijuana hangover as:

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Brain fog
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Headaches
  • Mild nausea

A suspected case of marijuana hangover is no cause to panic. Studies of hardy male marijuana smokers dating back to 1985 (“ ‘Hangover’ Effects the Morning After Marijuana Smoking’ ) and 1990 (“Subjective and Behavioral Effects of Marijuana the Morning After Smoking”) were unable to establish and track a marijuana hangover as a real thing.

Which doesn’t mean you won’t know a cannabis hangover when you feel it. Even though medical science has failed to prove what many of us know as true, the marijuana hangover can be a verifiable nuisance.

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Putting the possibly imagined existence of the marijuana hangover aside, a few precautions can be taken to reduce any negative side-effects of cannabis.

The Foundation for a Drug Free World’s biased litany of annoying marijuana side effects includes memory lapses, acute anxiety, disorientation, sluggishness, quirky behaviors reacting to sights, sounds and smell of objects that are not present, imagination overlapping with reality, uncoordinated coordination, panic about all that anxiety, and impotence!

If cannabis medicine is consumed in a structured fashion, medical cannabis and adult recreational users alike will be hampered less by quirky marijuana reactions. Cannabis products—sublingual, transdermal, smoked—and dosages should be planned ahead of time.

When a medical cannabis patient consumes a therapeutic marijuana product in their home or other familiar and comfortable place, the chance of the cannabinoids triggering disorientation or intrusions of imagined sights, sounds and smells are reduced.

Blocking out an undisturbed chunk of time for a medical marijuana treatment will eliminate the pressure a patient might feel to account for every passing hour, which dodges a panicked anxiety bullet in the process.

Keep in mind that not all medical cannabis products are created equal in terms of psychoactive impacts. Milder, gentler cannabis strains will reduce the instances and severity of all accepted marijuana side effects, including the maybe illusory cannabis hangover.

420 in written in cannabis leaves. A bit of a
Picture from Pixabay

Using CBD and Terpenes to Reduce Side-effects

In its June 25, 2020, edition, Discover magazine explores indications that the therapeutic benefits of CBD derive as much from terpenes as from the cannabidiol (CBD) molecule itself. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in several species of plants and herbs, with the most interesting of those terpenes mixed in with the multitude of psychoactive chemicals at play within the cannabis plant. Marijuana plants contain at least 200 identified terpenes with more on deck to be counted.

“Bioactive” terpenes bind to receptors along the human endocannabinoid system, much like CBD and the more stimulating delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) do. Limonene, alpha-pinene, and myrcene are three specific terpenes contained in CBD that boost production of beneficial neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Activated in concert, these chemicals produce one of the cannabis plant’s lauded Entourage Effects.

Professors Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat discovered in a 1998 study that certain terpenes encourage binding to cannabinoid receptors. The scientists determined that the CBD and terpene Entourage Effect improves absorption of beneficial chemicals through the blood-brain barrier and increases overall effectiveness of cannabinoids.

To profit from the labor of Mechoulam and Ben-Shabat, put a CBD and terpene cannabis product to work minimizing unwanted cannabis effects. Use it to replace or cut down on THC consumption. Or in that foggy morning after, allow CBD and its terpenes to clear away the view inside your head and cast off that real or imagined hangover sluggishness.

The terpenes found in CBD and cannabis oil, and what they do.
The terpenes found in cannabis and full-spectrum CBD (cannabidiol) oil.

Food and Drinks That Can Help Cast Off a Marijuana Hangover

Much like an alcohol hangover, aftereffects of marijuana use tend to be dispelled by food and beverages.

The first thing to do upon awakening with a marijuana hangover is reach for a tall glass of water. Drink that water and, whenever comfortable, reach for and down another glass of water. Repeat until cannabis hangover is washed away.

Feed your body’s natural cannabis hangover resistance systems by eating an array of breakfast foods, whole grain carbs, lean protein, dabs of healthy fat. Fruit smoothies can provide a vitamin and sugar boost. Add some hemp seeds for some extra omega-3 (which also assists in brain function)!

Ginger tea will help soothe an upset stomach or jangly nerves attributed to cannabis hangover. A cup of caffeinated coffee or tea will restore alertness to real or imagined post marijuana lag. Green and herbal teas can also provide some comforting or more awakening effects.

If infusions of food and fluids fail to dissolve a marijuana hangover, take an aspirin and swallow it while melting in a hot shower.

Preventing the Negative Effects of Cannabis

One failsafe way to avoid overdoing cannabis treatment is to moderate all consumption of marijuana products.

Safeguards against overconsumption or misuse of medical cannabis products fall along the line of:

  • Don’t drink alcohol or mix other drugs with cannabis
  • Take days off from cannabis wherever possible
  • Avoid heavy cannabis consumption on nights before crucial activities
  • Limit the amount of cannabis products consumed
  • Switch to low THC or predominantly CBD medical cannabis products
  • Be careful and gradual when exploring a new marijuana product
  • Clear all medications with your medical provider for potential cannabis interactions

The fundamental guidelines to avoiding, minimizing and rebounding from the concrete effects of a cannabis hangover, real or imagined, are the same as in so many activities in this life: commonsense, and responsible consumption in moderation.

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Written by
Allan MacDonell
Allan MacDonell

Leafwell's Editorial Director, Allan MacDonell’s work has been featured in publications ranging from Dazed and Confused UK to the New York Times and Washington Post. He is the author of Prisoner of X, Punk Elegies and Now That I Am Gone, and was a founding editorial director at online outlets including Buzznet, TakePart and Kindland. MacDonell views teaming with Leafwell as an opportunity to encourage the emerging role of legal cannabis as a highly effective medical treatment.

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