The era of marijuana legalization has changed the landscape of drug testing. While it is true that many companies still operate a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy, an increasing number are abandoning drug screenings for weed. Several states now require employers to accommodate employee use of medical cannabis.
However, in some states where recreational marijuana is legal, companies can still fire employees for testing positive for THC. Even if the individual uses the substance away from company property and during their time off, they could lose their job.
Desperation to pass impending drug tests means people do some silly things. They will pay significant sums of money for garbage “detox” products, consume potentially deadly toxic chemicals, and dilute their urine.
None of these tactics work, yet thousands of people persist. Why? Because they have fallen into the trap of believing THC detox myths. This article explores some of these falsehoods and outlines the reality.
What Is Detoxing?
When it comes to THC, detoxing is the process of abstaining from the consumption of marijuana to ultimately flush it from your system. The length of time it takes to complete the process depends on various factors, with your level of usage top of the list. The detox process could lead to side effects such as anxiety, insomnia, reduction in appetite, headaches, and irritability.
If you merely abstain from marijuana usage, your system will eventually become clear of it, but this takes time. THC accumulates in your body as you continue smoking. Certain strains contain a lot more of the cannabinoid than others. However, generally, the more marijuana you consume, the longer it takes for the THC to leave your system. The speed of metabolization varies from person to person and dictates how long the traces remain.
Detoxing requires abstaining from THC consumption in order to expunge it from the body. Sometimes, people do it manually rather than through abstinence.
Abstinence alone won’t help you pass a drug test. These tests are designed to surprise you by their very nature, so don’t expect to have much time to prepare. This is a catastrophe for regular cannabis users. Even if you use the substance once, it could stay in your system for eight days.
For occasional users, it might be 15 days before they are clean. Regular users could take up to a month, while some reports suggest heavy users would have to abstain for 77 days! If a person’s job is at stake because of an upcoming drug test at work, they will try some pretty dumb things to pass.
How Do Drug Screenings Work?
Drug screenings look for the 11-OH-THC and THC-COOH metabolites, just two of the 80+ found in THC. When you use marijuana, the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol enters the body and is absorbed into the bloodstream. Some THC is stored temporarily in the fatty tissues and organs. When in the kidneys, THC is potentially reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
The THC is broken down in the liver. Drug tests look for the two metabolites above because they remain in the body longer than THC itself. After a certain period, THC and its metabolites leave the body via feces and urine.
Let’s look at seven of the most prevalent THC detox myths and provide you with the truth.
Myth #1: All You Need is Water (And a ‘Detox’ Drink)
The THC detox drink market is big now that recreational marijuana is legal in several states. Various consumer reviews suggest that some of these beverages work. Regardless of the drink’s ingredients, you’ll notice that they always advise you to drink liters, if not a gallon, of water.
Fact #1: It Is Stupid AND Dangerous
There is a slight element of truth to this myth. Water can reduce THC metabolite levels in your urine. However, excessive water consumption often gives it a suspiciously clear color. The best detox drinks contain ingredients that ensure your urine has a more natural tone and passes when the testers analyze the content.
However, excessive water consumption can lead to hyperhydration or ‘water intoxication in extreme cases.’ This, in turn, leads to electrolyte imbalance disease and, in sporadic instances, death! If you dilute your urine too much, it will have a low specific gravity and creatinine level, which get picked up during the testing process.
When you drink too much water, it increases the level of H2O in your blood. This process could dilute the electrolytes in your blood, particularly sodium. You develop hyponatremia when your sodium levels fall below 135 mmol/L. Next, fluids shift from the outside to the inside of your cells, which causes swelling. If this happens to your brain cells, it has life-threatening consequences.
The amount of water needed to cause symptoms of hyponatremia is lower than you think. Consuming as little as three liters of water in a short period is potentially enough. As a rule of thumb, try to avoid drinking more than a liter of water per hour on average because your kidneys can eliminate between 20 and 28 liters per day.
Also, your body only expels 20% of THC via urine. Approximately 15% is excreted via other bodily fluids such as sweat; fecal matter removes 65%. In other words, you’re better off taking laxatives instead of drinking lots of water, but that’s another move you might regret!
Myth #2: Synthetic Urine Is the Answer
If you go online, you’ll find many companies selling fake urine. One of the strangest stories we’ve heard is people using chicken noodle soup broth to substitute for urine. Once again, there are cases where synthetic pee works.
For example, brands such as Quick Fix and Upass boast excellent customer reviews, and both claim extremely high success rates. Nonetheless, even if the product works, a lot needs to go right for you to pass the test.
Fact #2: Lab Tests Are Sophisticated
Do you think chicken broth will fool a trained lab technician with years of urine analysis testing? The chemical analysis will catch you if the smell alone doesn’t give away the game. It’s a similar story with synthetic urine; while sellers claim they have correctly matched the chemical formula for human urine, many are lying.
Again, top-rated companies buck the trend, but they can’t account for your ‘performance’ on the day. Knowing that a tester is standing close by, do you have the steady hand and calm nature required to complete the switch? There is no possibility of getting the fake urine into a container without being spotted in some cases.
Myth #3: Natural Diuretics Are Effective in Flushing Toxins from the System
As you’re probably aware, diuretics are substances that increase urine production and output. Commonly used diuretics include coffee, tea, beer, cranberry juice, and any other beverage with caffeine. There are also detox drinks and medications such as Lasix or Modil available.
Fact #3: They Dilute Toxins, but Don’t Eliminate Them
Diuretics will make you urinate, but they don’t remove THC. Yes, they can flush toxins out of your system and decrease the concentration of metabolites in urine. However, diuretic consumption is essentially the same as drinking lots of water for THC detoxing purposes. Diuretics speed up urination but dilute your sample to the point where it arouses suspicion. The result is a rejected, voided, or otherwise failed test.
Myth #4: Household Products Can Help You with THC Detox
Some people believe that, in a pinch, you must scour the house for everyday items. For example, there is a theory that drinking undiluted bleach helps pass a urine test.
In reality, ingesting bleach can burn the esophagus. It is already one of the major causes of household poisonings in the United States, accounting for 45,000 cases a year!
There are a surprising number of cases in which people ingest household products to detox. However, these methods are usually harmful.
In what has fallen into the ‘old housewives’ tale’ category, there is a suggestion that items such as vinegar and pickle juice are useful. As far as vinegar is concerned, the belief is that drinking it before a test will flush out your system or mask traces of THC.
As pickle juice is highly acidic, like vinegar, the suggestion is that drinking it will dissolve drug metabolites and cleanse the urine.
Fact #4: Science Says You’re Wasting Your Time
When you consume vinegar, it mixes with gastric enzymes and stomach acid to change your urine’s pH level. It doesn’t cause any impact on weed metabolites and is likely to give you an upset stomach and a bad dose of diarrhea. Pickle juice’s only acid is acetic acid, the same as vinegar. It also contains a large amount of salt, which makes you thirsty and causes you to drink water.
If you think that drinking bleach will help you pass a drug test, it is a surprise that you have a job at all! Even if it legitimately works, it could easily kill you. The ingredients in bleach and Drano don’t interact with any drugs or their metabolites. In case you were wondering, ingredients such as sodium chloride, sodium hydroxide, and sodium polyacrylate cause damage to your body.
Myth #5: A Niacin Detox Can Help You Pass a Drug Test
There is a suggestion that vitamin B3, also known as niacin, can help someone beat a urinalysis drug screening. It is a well-known treatment for hyperlipidemia and is available in 50-mg to 500-mg capsules or tablets.
Niacin boosts the metabolism while regulating blood pressure. As it dilates the blood vessels, the assumption is that niacin will flush THC out of the system.
Fact #5: Niacin Will NOT Help You Pass Drug Test
There is no evidence that niacin will impact your urine’s THC content. Moreover, overconsumption is potentially dangerous. The RDA for niacin is 15mg for adults, but remember, you can buy it in 500mg capsules in certain stores.
A study published in the Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives in 2018 highlighted the dangers of niacin toxicity when using it to beat a urine drug test. The researchers found 12 such instances in clinical literature amongst individuals who used the vitamin specifically to pass a drug test. While each person survived, they suffered severe medical issues including:
- Acute liver failure
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- Lactic acidosis
Even if it worked, it wouldn’t be worth using niacin to pass a drug test!
Myth #6: Intense Exercise Leads to Rapid THC Detox
Of all the myths discussed so far in this piece, this is the one with the most significant amount of truth attached to it. Our body’s fat cells store THC, so the more body fat you have, the longer it takes to detox. Exercise such as cardio and resistance training will boost your metabolism and burn fat. It also leads to a boost in anandamide production, which is a natural cannabinoid known as the ‘bliss’ molecule.
Fact #6: It Isn’t a Short-Term Fix
Everyone should exercise regularly to keep fit and healthy and ensure their weight remains under control. However, it is not a magic ‘get out of jail free’ card for a fast THC detox. It can help you pass, but only when performed regularly and well in advance.
Drug metabolites are excreted via your urine, so you have to stop exercising up to 48 hours before the test. This process decreases the THC level in the urinary tract and enables you to provide a clean sample potentially. However, it is a slow process and not one you can attempt in the week before a test.
Myth #7: You Can Claim to Be a Passive Smoker
When all else fails, why not claim that you were in a room with heavy smokers, and that’s the reason you didn’t pass the test?
Fact #7: You Can’t Inhale Enough Second-Hand Smoke to Use This as a Defense
Every drug test has a cut-off level. In most cases, a urinalysis for marijuana has its cut-off point at 50 nanograms per milliliter. Decades-old studies suggest that passive smoke inhalation isn’t likely to result in a positive drug test.
A 1985 study by Morland et al., published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, used five healthy volunteers who had never used weed previously. They inhaled cannabis smoke for 30 minutes, and none of the volunteers came close to 50 ng/mL in a urinalysis.
Passive smoking is not an excuse for failing a drug test. In reality, you cannot consume enough THC to fail based on passive inhalation alone.
A 2010 study by Rohrich et al., published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, went further. It looked at the cannabinoid concentrations in the urine and blood of individuals who remained in a busy Amsterdam coffee shop for three hours. None of the eight urine samples exceeded 25 ng/mL. After 14 hours, only three of the examples had between 0.5 and 1.0 ng/mL.
Finally, a 2015 study by Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed the issue. Six experienced users smoked weed cigarettes in a sealed chamber, and six non-users joined them in the room. The maximum reading was 57.5 ng/mL, high enough to fail a test. However, the level fell after a few hours. In other words, unless you were in a room full of marijuana users on the morning of the test, you won’t fail due to passive smoking.
How Can I Perform a Proper THC Detox to Pass a Drug Test?
There are many ways to perform a safe and healthy THC detox if you don’t have a drug test looming. Here are some tips if you have time on your side:
- Abstinence: This is the most obvious entry on the list. You can’t be clean if you keep using cannabis!
- Exercise: As mentioned above, losing fat speeds up the THC detox process.
- Drink Water: While it is a bad idea as an emergency method, drinking a few liters of water a day will help cleanse the system over time.
- Healthy Diet: Try to avoid foods laden with fat, salt, and sugar. Such foods slow down your metabolism and increase water retention. Choose lean meat and fruit and vegetables with an emphasis on leafy greens because these are high in essential vitamins such as iron.
- Drink Tea: Focus on liver-cleansing teas such as milk thistle or dandelion.
- Bentonite Clay: This clay comes from aged volcanic ash and has various detoxifying properties. It absorbs toxins, impurities, heavy metals, and chemicals. You can hold your nose and drink it with water or enjoy a bath with several cups of clay.
I’m Kind of in a Hurry Here!!!
You love using marijuana, but there is a company drug test scheduled in the next couple of days! Is it time to panic? Well, yes!
None of the above methods will work and, now that we have explored a few myths, you’re all out of options, right? Not quite! There are ways to perform a quickfire THC detox, but none are close to 100% effective. Before thinking the following advice is a golden ticket to a clean urine test, please bear that in mind.
Don’t Give Urine First Thing in the Morning
First and foremost, your test mustn’t be your first urination of the day. Morning urine is darker than afternoon or evening pee because several unwanted substances will accumulate while you sleep. If you are a marijuana user, your first urination of the day will contain the highest concentration of THC. Therefore, make sure you pee at least once before the test.
Aspirin Works with Certain Tests
This is only an effective tactic for tests based on EMIT assay. It is a cheap test that involves using a strip dipped in a urine sample and is typically used for initial screening. A 1994 study by Wagener, Linder, and Valdes, published in Clinical Chemistry, showed that aspirin interferes with the EMIT assay by reducing its signals and helping to mask drug traces.
However, it is not entirely adequate when used alone. It works best when mixed with other remedies, and you should take four tablets around 4-5 hours before the test.
An adulterant is a substance added to urine to destroy or mask THC metabolites to provide a negative test result. While dozens of adulterants are purported to work, only a small number are potentially valid. Iodine could destroy morphine, for example, but is less effective on THC.
Papain is an enzyme in papaya that reduces the concentration of weed metabolites by 50% when added to a urine sample. As well as working for initial and confirmation screening, papain is undetectable by standard adulteration tests.
Zinc Potentially Works
Zinc could potentially work, at least according to a 2011 study by Venkataratnam and Lents published in the Oxford Academic Journal of Analytical Toxicology. The two scientists found that zinc could block THC metabolites and decrease detection levels in urinalysis. You can achieve the result by ingesting a zinc supplement or using it as an adulterant in zinc sulfate form.
New methods of detecting zinc in urine tests have been recently developed, though. However, if your analysis is scrutinized by a lab using older methods, you may have a shot at sneaking through.
Certain Detox Drinks Appear to Work
The question of whether detox drinks work is a controversial topic. They are supposed to work by cleansing your system of THC. In most cases, these drinks act as diuretics but contain supplements to help the urine look more legitimate.
For example, B-vitamins like B-2 and B-12 turn your urine yellow, which looks more natural. These beverages also contain creatine, which increases creatinine levels in the urine, and dietary fiber, ensuring THC metabolites are redirected from the bladder to the colon.
These drinks usually involve drinking plenty of water, so your urine is diluted but looks natural. Customer reviews reveal that some detox drinks are useful while others are garbage. One suspects that there is a lot of luck involved in some of these drinks, which probably mask THC rather than flushing it from the system.
For the record, brands such as Toxin Rid and Pass Your Test have received mainly positive reviews. The latter offers a Same Day Cleanse that could take effect after 90 minutes and last up to six hours. Plenty of people claim it helped them pass a urinalysis but again, there are NO guarantees.
Final Thoughts on THC Detox Myths
Regardless of what detox drink manufacturers claim, there is no guaranteed way to pass a urine test with a low enough level of THC to go undetected. If you use marijuana and have an impending drug test, you can try some rapid-fire THC detox methods, but none are guaranteed to work.
A popular emergency remedy involves drinking a concoction of fruit pectin and Gatorade around two hours before a test. Follow it with two more bottles of water and B-vitamins. Perhaps you can boost your chances further by adding zinc, papain, and aspirin to the mix, but these may not be effective depending on the kind of test it is. Many conventional detox methods are unhealthy, while others are downright dangerous and idiotic.
A genuinely effective THC detox could take weeks, depending on how much marijuana you use. Abstinence is essential and more effective when combined with increased water intake, exercise, and a healthier diet.
This lifestyle change will speed up the THC detox process and help you get fitter and feel better in the long run. If you want a fast THC detox option, it is necessary to roll the dice. Otherwise, it is a good option for individuals in danger of developing a THC tolerance.
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