Marijuana Detox: What You Should Know
As laws change, talking about marijuana use is slowly becoming more common. Some people are assessing its medicinal value, while others are looking for ways to flush it out of their system because of drug testing or a simple desire to get toxins out of their systems.
But what exactly are they flushing out, and how long would it take to happen naturally?
When you smoke or consume marijuana, you can feel profound and immediate effects. But even once those effects are gone, marijuana metabolites remain. This means that chemical remnants of the plant are still present within your body.
These remnants are called cannabinoids. They can be detected in saliva, hair, fingernails, blood, and urine.
Drug tests look for the presence of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its metabolites. Generally, urine is tested, both because it’s easiest to collect and because THC remains detectable for a longer period of time in urine than elsewhere.
The main metabolite these drug screenings look for is called THC-COOH. This substance is stored in your body fat.
“Compared to other drugs, marijuana has the longest detection time, up to months, because the detectable chemicals stay in the body’s fat cells,” explained Nicolas Rossetti, manager of clinical services of Mobile Health, an occupational health center that conducts about 200,000 drug tests in New York City each year.
The vast majority of marijuana detoxes seek to flush the body of any detectable THC. These kits include capsules, chewable tablets, drinks, shampoos, and even mouthwashes to help you pass a saliva test.
However, if a drug test is your concern, detoxes can have additional effects that can make your urine sample look suspicious.
“Cleanses and teas can lower THC levels through their diuretic properties. They make individuals urinate a lot, which technically washes out the kidneys,” said Rossetti.
“This flushing of the kidneys can lower the specific gravity or density of the urine,” he added, “and a low specific gravity indicates contamination on the test, and the specimen could be discounted.”
Also, cleanses and teas may alter the amount of creatinine in the urine, another measure that drug tests look at. Abnormal creatinine levels can indicate contamination, according to Rossetti. This means the tester could assume that you attempted to cheat on your drug test.
While that doesn’t mean a positive test, it does mean the sample is unacceptable, and you’ll likely have to take the test again.
THC can be detected in your blood, urine, and even in your fat cells. The length of time THC remains detectable in the body depends on several factors, including:
- metabolism and eating habits
- exercise routine
- body fat percentage
- frequency and quantity of marijuana use
Because of all these factors, there is no single standard detection time. Some estimate it can stick around for anywhere from two days to several months.
Cannabinoid metabolites can remain detectable in urine even after long periods of abstinence. One study found traces of one metabolite, delta 1-THC, in urine as long as four weeks after use.
THC builds up in fat tissue, and from there slowly spreads to the blood. According to a 2013 study , exercise can cause THC to be released from your fat stores and into your blood.
THC can remain detectable in your blood for as long as seven days, depending on how frequently you use marijuana. Someone who smokes marijuana daily will likely carry marijuana metabolites for longer than someone who smokes infrequently.
As of 2018, marijuana is legal for recreational use in the U.S. in these states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C. Medical marijuana is approved in over 20 states.
But regardless of its legality, it’s important to remember that marijuana carries with it certain medical risks. Know the risks before you decide to use it or not.
- The main remnant cannabis drug tests look for is THC.
- How long THC stays in your body depends on your weight and how much you exercise, among other things.
Last medically reviewed on January 25, 2018
When you smoke or consume marijuana, you can feel profound and immediate effects. But even once those effects are gone, marijuana metabolites remain in your body.
What to know about marijuana detox
Marijuana contains many compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These compounds remain in the system after use, but many factors can affect how long they stay there. This can influence the length and side effects of the marijuana detox process.
THC and CBD attach to the same cannabinoid receptors as endocannabinoids, which are chemicals that the body produces naturally. Typically, the body releases these compounds through urine and stool.
If a person wants to detox from marijuana, they will need to flush out or wait until the final traces of marijuana have left the body. Until this happens, they may also test positive in drug screening.
Keep reading to learn more about the side effects of marijuana detox, how long the drug stays in the body, how drug tests work, and some remedies that may help in the detox process.
Share on Pinterest Depression and loss of concentration are common side effects of marijuana withdrawal.
Marijuana can create dependencies in people who use it heavily for long periods. When a person’s body becomes used to receiving THC and CBD, stopping using it may lead to a period of uncomfortable marijuana withdrawal symptoms as the body readjusts.
However, people respond to detox in different ways, and some may not experience any symptoms when they stop using marijuana.
According to Marijuana Anonymous, the most commonly reported withdrawal symptoms are insomnia and headaches. Other side effects of marijuana detox may include:
- vivid dreams or nightmares starting about a week following quitting and lasting for a month or more
- anger or irritability
- emotional instability ranging from anger to euphoria
- loss of concentration
- night sweats
- coughing up phlegm
- loss of appetite
- tremors or shaky hands
Some remedies that may help with the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:
- drinking plenty of water
- reducing the amount of fat eaten
- reducing or eliminating caffeine consumption
- warm baths
Detoxing from marijuana may take a long time because many of its compounds remain in the body.
Whether a person smokes, vapes, or ingests marijuana, cannabinoids enter the bloodstream. Marijuana contains at least 104 different cannabinoids, but THC is the one responsible for producing the high effect that recreational marijuana users experience.
However, once the high has worn off, the cannabinoids ingested as a result of using the marijuana will remain in a person’s body for a time.
Though THC remains in the blood for only a short period, it is fat-soluble. This means the body absorbs it through fatty tissue, and as a result of this, small deposits of THC can remain in the body’s fat deposits for several weeks.
According to American Addiction Centers, a person can expect marijuana to remain in their body for the following times:
- Hair: 90 days
- Urine: 3 days to a month or more, depending on usage
- Saliva: 48 hours
- Blood: 36 hours
In addition to these figures, a study published in 2017 also identified that traces of cannabinoids could remain in sweat for 7–14 days.
How long these compounds stay in a person’s system varies widely. According to another study published in 2017, one of the factors that affect this time frame is the strain of marijuana a person uses. The strain refers to the specific subspecies of the plant.
Different strains of marijuana may contain varying amounts of cannabinoids, which can affect how long they remain in a person’s body.
How often a person uses marijuana can also affect how long it stays in their body. When a person uses marijuana for an extended period, traces of cannabinoids will remain in their body for a longer time.
This means they may still test positive for marijuana many months after stopping. In some instances, people have tested positive for THC 3 months after discontinuing use.
Some other factors that affect the length of time marijuana traces will remain in a person’s body include:
- how much marijuana they use
- how often they exercise
- the type of exercise they do
- their eating habits
- their metabolism
- the percentage of body fat they have
These varying factors may make it difficult to determine precisely how long marijuana, or more specifically THC, will remain in a person’s system after use.
A drug test identifies traces of the cannabinoids, specifically THC, in the person’s system. The most common type of drug test for marijuana is a urine test. Doctors often use a urine test because it is easy to perform and because, unlike other tests, it can still identify the presence of cannabinoids and metabolites up to 3 months after use.
Other types of drug tests may include:
- hair testing
- blood testing
- saliva testing
Drug tests look for the presence of THC and its associated metabolites. The metabolite most drug tests search for is THC-COOH. Because the body stores THC in the fat cells, the compound remains in the system for longer.
Marijuana contains some compounds that remain in the body after use. Many factors affect how long it stays there. Learn about the marijuana detox process here.