There is evidence to suggest that marijuana could help reduce the impact of an alcohol hangover. However, there is also research indicating that cannabis could cause a hangover. Anecdotal reports suggest that a weed hangover is different from its alcohol equivalent.
A cannabis hangover is apparently more tolerable than an alcohol one. However, it does include symptoms such as headaches and brain fog. This article looks at other symptoms and causes, and analyses research into this oft-disputed phenomenon. It also offers tips on getting rid of a cannabis hangover and advice on preventing it from happening.
What Causes a Weed Hangover?
The most likely cause of a marijuana-related hangover is excessive consumption of the substance. Much like alcohol, determining what represents overconsumption is tricky due to the plant’s different effects on people. It is the impact of THC, the most abundant intoxicating cannabinoid in cannabis, that is of the greatest significance.
People who report having a hangover after cannabis use say they feel the effects the following day.
THC tolerance varies from one person to the next. This is due to factors such as body weight, metabolism, and experience in using the substance. However, it is the overuse of THC that seems to result in weed hangovers. In general, this issue appears to affect users of ultra-high THC cannabis concentrates more than smokers.
Typically, people who report having a hangover after cannabis use say they feel the effects the following day.
What Are the Symptoms of a Marijuana Hangover?
Cannabis users who report experiencing a hangover claim they have the following symptoms:
- Dry eyes
- Mild nausea
- Dry mouth
Although they share some similar symptoms, most reports suggest that cannabis and alcohol hangovers feel very different.
There are misleading claims that cannabis is dehydrating, which is why it can result in a hangover. However, it is usually a case of confusing dry mouth with dehydration. While dry mouth is irritating, it is caused by a lack of saliva production rather than a lack of hydration.
Contrary to popular belief, thirst isn’t a good early indication of dehydration. If you feel thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated. That said, it remains a good idea to stay hydrated in any case. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with other symptoms along with your cannabis hangover.
Many cannabis users think they have a hangover when they feel a little unusual after trying the substance. Using alcohol or other drugs with cannabis could have an impact on how you feel the next day.
If you are a regular user and abstain for a while, you could be experiencing the effects of withdrawal. Bear in mind that the cannabis high can last for several hours. If you use edibles, it could have an impact for up to eight hours.
What Do Studies Say About Marijuana Hangovers?
There are relatively few studies into whether cannabis can cause a hangover. This is primarily down to the plant’s prohibited status. However, there are a handful of studies that suggest it is a real thing.
A small study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 1985 analyzed hangover effects on 13 male cannabis users. The researchers found that the acute effects of cannabis could lead to a hangover. Marijuana use resulted in significant changes in CO level and heart rate. It also had a major impact on behavioral tasks such as time production, free recall, and card sorting.
A study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics in 2015 recommended that doctors discuss the hangover effect of cannabis with MMJ patients. The paper pointed out that this effect lasted for a minimum of a day after using the substance.
A study published in the Pain journal in 2017 looked at how people with chronic pain felt after using cannabis. MMJ patients admitted to having a feeling of fogginess and non-alertness in the morning.
Some Research Suggests Weed Hangovers Don’t Exist
A study published in Psychopharmacology in 1990 looked at the effects of cannabis on 12 male subjects. They consumed cannabis then completed various behavioral and subjective tests. On this occasion, the users didn’t experience much of an effect the following morning.
Another study published in Pharmacology, biochemistry, and Behavior in 1998 looked at the acute and residual effects of cannabis in humans. Ten healthy male volunteers who recently used cannabis participated in the study. They smoked cannabis in a controlled setting and experienced effects for a few hours. However, there were no reports of any cannabis hangover the following day.
What to Do If You Get a Weed Hangover
In general, a cannabis hangover goes away by itself. But waking up feeling foggy and finding it hard to focus isn’t the best way to start a day. Here are a few things you can try to see if you can alleviate the symptoms:
Jump in the Shower: After getting up, have a shower right away. Switch between hot and cold water. The cold water can awaken the senses, while steam from hot water opens the airways.
Have Breakfast & Hydrate: Consume whole-grain carbohydrates, a lean protein source, and healthy fats. It is also a good idea to have a couple of glasses of water.
Get Your Caffeine Fix: A cup of tea or coffee could help give you a short-term boost in alertness.
Consider Ginger Tea: If you have nausea, a cup of ginger tea with lemon and honey might help settle your stomach.
Use a Painkiller: If you have a headache and the CBD doesn’t work, you could try an OTC analgesic.
Move Around: Go for a walk or embark on some gentle exercise to shake the cobwebs off. The release of endorphins will also likely help you feel better.
Preventing Cannabis Hangovers
Prevention is better than cure! If you’ve experienced the effects of a marijuana hangover, you may want to avoid repeating the experience. Here are some handy tips:
Use Cannabis in Moderation: The main reason you get a hangover is due to excessive consumption. Also, review the THC content of the strain you use, and consider something less potent.
Don’t Mix with Other Drugs: Typically, you can expect a hangover effect to be worse if you mix cannabis with alcohol or other drugs.
Reduce Consumption Frequency: Try to avoid using cannabis several days a week. Over time, you will build up a tolerance to THC and become dependent on it. In this situation, trying to ‘go sober’ will inevitably lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Incidentally, if you regularly experience cannabis hangovers, it is possibly a sign of misuse. Other things to watch out for include:
- Routinely using more than you originally intended.
- Increasing cannabis consumption over time.
- Spending a significant amount of money on it when you’re unable to afford it.
- Ensuring you have a steady supply to hand.
- Using it almost daily.
- Experiencing cannabis cravings.
- Consuming marijuana even when you have to work or perform important tasks.
- Avoiding situations where you’re unable to use it.
Final Thoughts on Weed Hangovers
Whether cannabis hangovers even exist is a matter of debate. There is research that outlines the potential for the substance to cause hangovers. Symptoms can include feeling groggy and confused the morning after using marijuana. However, other studies have found no evidence of a ‘hangover’ effect after consuming cannabis.
There is a huge level of anecdotal evidence that suggests weed hangovers are real.
Nonetheless, there is a huge level of anecdotal evidence that suggests weed hangovers are real. If this is the case, the most likely reason is due to overconsumption of THC, the cannabinoid in marijuana that causes intoxication. If you experience a cannabis hangover, try to jolt your body and mind with a shower, caffeine, and nutritious breakfast.
Avoid having future hangovers by using marijuana responsibly. It is potentially relaxing when used in moderation.