The alcohol industry is lobbying hard against the legalization of cannabis in various states. The initial suggestion was that purveyors of alcohol would lose up to $2 billion a year. In fact, in 2017, Aspen became the first city in America to record higher marijuana sales than alcohol sales.
Moreover, researchers at the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University found that medical marijuana cut 15% off alcohol sales. In locations where recreational use is permitted, that percentage is likely higher. However, a lot of people still enjoy using both cannabis and alcohol.
It’s even possible that these two substances could work in tandem, especially for relieving symptoms of a hangover. In other words, does weed help hangovers? Let’s investigate this idea.
What Happens After Drinking Too Much Alcohol?
For those that overindulge in alcohol, marijuana could prove a lifesaver when nursing a brutal hangover. Before we go into further detail, let’s look at what excessive alcohol intake leads to:
Increased Urine Production: The result is dehydration, which manifests itself in symptoms such as a thumping headache, insatiable thirst, and dizziness.
Inflammatory Response: Drinking too much alcohol can cause the immune system to trigger agents that promote physical symptoms such as decreased appetite, memory issues, and a lack of concentration.
Blood Vessel Expansion: The result is a severe headache.
Does Smoking Weed Help Hangovers?
Some anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis may indeed be a good solution for an alcohol hangover. Not only are many strains well-known for inducing sleep, but most provide insatiable hunger in the form of the munchies, too.
To investigate this claim, we’ll take a closer look at cannabis’ relationship with:
So, does smoking weed help hangovers? Keep reading to find out.
Can Cannabis Relieve Nausea?
Research available to date suggests that the answer is positive. There are many studies that show the capacity of THC to reduce nausea and vomiting. However, most research focuses on how cannabis helps nausea in cancer patients. One exception is a study by Parker et al., published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2011.
Even the United States National Cancer Institute wrote that cannabis could help with nausea.
The researchers, on that occasion, looked at whether cannabinoids could impact nausea and its related symptoms. They found that THC and CBD helped alleviate nausea and vomiting. The study also suggested that cannabis was potentially more effective than over-the-counter remedies that have limited efficacy.
Interestingly, even the United States National Cancer Institute wrote that cannabis could help with nausea. On its website, it says that THC “can help relieve pain and nausea, reduce inflammation, and can act as an antioxidant.”
Does Marijuana Stimulate Appetite?
During a hangover, feelings of nausea can put many off eating or drinking. However, avoiding food can make things worse. It’s often recommended to eat fatty food before drinking to reduce the impact of the hangover.
Additionally, the age-old ‘remedy’ of a greasy fry-up is no better than healthier alternatives.
Eggs make an ideal hangover food because they contain an amino acid called cysteine. It clears the liver of acetaldehyde, the toxin that causes hangovers. So do avocados, which are an excellent source of potassium.
Often, the THC in marijuana helps cause the phenomenon called ‘the munchies’. In other words, smokers may crave lots of food.
A 2015 study by Koch et al., for instance, discovered that specific neurons at the base of the brain increase appetite when activated by THC. In 2018, Washington State University looked at how cannabis use alters eating behavior. The researchers dosed lab rats with marijuana vapor. They identified brain regions that enter ‘hungry’ mode when under the influence of cannabis.
Smoking cannabis won’t do anything for dehydration directly. However, it may reduce nausea enough so that drinking water becomes easier. In some instances, users may experience a feeling of ‘dry mouth’ after smoking. Although it can be unpleasant, it could prove a boon when hungover as it encourages the consumption of liquid.
Can Cannabis Cut the Severity of a Headache?
Hangovers can cause an unpleasant and incessant thumping in the skull. In most cases, the solution is to close the curtains and lie in bed all day. Hangover survivors know that moving around is painful, as is sensitivity to light. Alas, lying in bed till 3 pm is not an option for those who work or have kids to care for. Perhaps cannabis can help?
A study by Rhyne et al., published in May 2016, looked at the impact of medical marijuana on 121 migraine sufferers and found that the average number of monthly migraine headaches halved among those that regularly consumed cannabis. Moreover, 85% of users found that cannabis reduced their headache frequency, and inhalation led to the fastest relief.
A study by Cuttler et al., published in The Journal of Pain, looked at the short and long-term effects of cannabis on headaches and migraines. It found that inhaled cannabis reduces self-reported headache and migraine severity by 47% and 49%, respectively. So it may be worth a try for a hangover headache.
Can Marijuana Improve Sleep?
Bad hangovers can often mean late-night antics and very little sleep. As such, part of the problem is caused by a lack of sleep. First of all, it’s difficult to enjoy a good quality of sleep when a large amount of alcohol is involved. Sure, it’s possible to sleep for a few hours. However, it isn’t as restful or rejuvenating as non-alcohol-infused sleep.
Even for those who have the opportunity to sleep, a hangover could prevent it from happening. Sleeping can reduce symptoms because it offers the liver a chance to flush the alcohol from the system. Since alcohol acts as a diuretic, trying to sleep when hungover is problematic. It’s common to frequently need the bathroom.
Smoking the right cannabis strain may help some drift effortlessly to sleep and hopefully wake up feeling better.
Choosing the Right Cannabis Strains for a Hangover
With so many strains and delivery methods to choose from, it takes time to determine which combination works for you. For example, vaping cannabis seems like a good idea because it avoids having to get out of bed. It is also fast and easy and available in a range of potent cartridges.
It may be helpful to choose a strain that contains both CBD and THC. Preferably in a ratio of at least 1:1 (though higher CBD strains are probably better). Research suggests that CBD may help to counter the inflammation caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
Some of the best strains to use after a hangover include:
Does Weed Prevent Hangovers?
Consuming cannabis during a hangover may be beneficial, but does weed prevent hangovers? There is no evidence to suggest this is the case.
In fact, consuming cannabis and alcohol together, also known as cross-fading, can be harmful if users have a low tolerance. This is because alcohol actually enhances the effects of cannabis. It may cause dizziness, sweating, and even vomiting.
Alcohol actually enhances the effects of cannabis. It may cause dizziness, sweating, and even vomiting.
One outdated study from 1993 investigated the impact of smoking cannabis before drinking. It suggested that cannabis might delay the feelings of drunkenness, meaning users don’t feel as drunk as they really are.
This could prove very dangerous, as some people may feel mistakenly capable of driving a car or walking home alone. However, the study makes no mention of hangover effects.
If consuming alcohol before or with cannabis use, it’s always best to use caution.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana for Hangovers
Research illustrates that cannabis is capable of combating some of the most extreme effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Marijuana stimulates appetite, relieves nausea and vomiting, and may improve sleep. It may also give users energy and reduce the severity of headaches.
It isn’t a silver bullet that’ll make the vicious symptoms disappear into the night (or morning). However, it has the potential to make users feel much better.
Also, please remember that alcohol is effectively a poison that was never intended for human consumption. When users drink too much of it, there are often health consequences.
Additionally, remember that people respond differently to cannabis use. Therefore, what works for one person may not work for the next. Always listen to your body, and consult a medical professional if needed.