What Happens To Your Body The Morning After Smoking Weed
Why you feel blah after eating that brownie.
If you’ve ever been hungover from drinking, then you already know how one night of boozy indulgence can really mess with your mood, well-being, and productivity the next day. And you might have found yourself in a similar sitch the day after eating both halves of a pot brownie. But are weed hangovers real? Some cannabis consumers swear they’ve endured weed-related hangover symptoms, but the experience is far from universal.
If you’ve experienced weird symptoms after staying away from weed for a while, it’s possible that your body has become used to a certain amount of cannabis regularly, and is having difficulty adjusting. “Marijuana withdrawal would be a more appropriate name for [a weeed hangover]” Dr. Scott Braunstein M.D., medical director of healthcare organization Sollis Health, tells Bustle. But a lot of the research on cannabis hangovers is based on people who use it heavily, seven times or more per month, and there’s not a lot of studies about occasional users and how they feel the morning after a big night.
With all of that in mind, here are four commonly reported symptoms of a weed hangover, why they happen, and what you can do to make yourself feel better if you ever experience one.
Dr. Jordan Tishler M.D., an emergency medicine physician and cannabis specialist, tells Bustle that headaches are more likely to happen while you’re still intoxicated. If your head aches the morning after, you might just be dehydrated. A review of cannabis withdrawal symptoms after heavy use published in Current Addiction Reports in 2018 found that headache was a common symptom, along with chills and shakiness. It’s not really clear why this happens, but it’s possible that it’s to do with brain activity.
“Cannabis binds to neuron receptors, and has a complicated effect on neurotransmitters in the brain,” Dr. Braunstein says. “In chronic users, the brain becomes accustomed to a high level of dopamine.” Dopamine is is a neurotransmitter that plays a big role in sensations of pleasure and reward. Without cannabis, dopamine levels can crash possibly leading to migraine, as one 2017 study published in Neurology found. But it’s not clear if all these puzzle pieces fit together for weed smokers.
The next time you spend your Saturday night getting baked with friends, just be sure you’re drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your cannabis adventures.
2. Brain Fog
Of all the reported symptoms of a “weed hangover,” Dr. Tishler says brain fog and fatigue are the ones he anticipates. “The mechanism is unknown, but I suspect largely related [to] over-stimulation of the CB1 receptors.” These are the main receptors in the brain where cannabis ‘docks’, giving you all its positive effects.
If you smoke regularly and then stop, it could mess with your cognitive abilities. “If marijuana use is discontinued, dopamine levels drop and within about one week, the person can feel a state of anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and even depression,” Dr. Braunstein says. This is why cannabis is seen as psychologically addictive, he says; it gives you a hard emotional time if you go through withdrawal. An overview of cannabis withdrawal in 2017 in Substance Abuse & Rehabilitation found that irritability, restlessness, disturbed mood, depression, and anger could all appear as symptoms.
Other than coffee, good food, and lots of sleep, one way to deal with brain fog is to get out and exercise. Try going for a long walk or run, then cool down with some yoga, and take a hot (or cold) shower afterwards. It may not make your mental fogginess go away completely, but you’ll definitely feel sharper and more alert.
3. Feeling Dehydrated
While studies show that THC can bind itself to the CB1 receptors on our salivary glands, causing them to dry up вЂ” aka, dry mouth вЂ” Dr. Tishler tells Bustle that dehydration isn’t directly caused by weed. “Dehydration and dry eyes are really not related to cannabis,” he says. If you’re feeling dried out the day after consuming cannabis, it’s probably because you were already dehydrated when you started smoking; or it might be because you didn’t remember to hydrate while you were getting lifted.
Dehydration is pretty easy to avoid. To rehydrate and recover after waking up dehydrated, drink lots of water, and chow down on water-rich fruits and veggies throughout your day.
For the most part, weed can actually help some people fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. But if you smoke weed before bed, it’s possible that your high could be messing with the quality of your sleep, ultimately making you feel fatigued the day after you smoke. A study published in 2017 in Psychopharmacology also found that withdrawal from cannabis meant a rise in poor sleep quality, so if you’re a heavy user going without for a while, you might feel a bit more tired.
Naturally, the best way to remedy this hangover symptom is by getting lots of sleep вЂ” but if that’s not an option for you due to work or social obligations, then all you can really do is try to treat your body well throughout the day. Drink coffee and water, eat healthy meals, go for a long walk, and consider taking the day off from weed.
The Bottom Line
Dr. Tishler says time is really all any cannabis consumer should need to get back to “normal,” and he advises practicing moderation in all things. “If youвЂ™re experiencing weed hangover, likely youвЂ™re using too much,” Tishler says.
Also worth remembering? Any product that claims to relieve a pot hangover is likely too good to be true. “There are many products claiming to address this problem, or over-intoxication in general, and IвЂ™d advise staying away from them,” Dr. Tishler says. “There is no science yet to suggest that these products are effective, and since they are not regulated at all, thereвЂ™s no reason to expect that they are safe to use.”
Readers should note that laws governing cannabis, hemp and CBD are evolving, as is information about the efficacy and safety of those substances. As such, the information contained in this post should not be construed as legal or medical advice. Always consult your physician prior to trying any substance or supplement.
Dr. Scott Braunstein M.D.
Dr. Jordan Tishler M.D.
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Bonnet, U., & Preuss, U. W. (2017). The cannabis withdrawal syndrome: current insights. Substance abuse and rehabilitation, 8, 9вЂ“37. https://doi.org/10.2147/SAR.S109576
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This article was originally published on Oct. 14, 2015
Cannabis withdrawal can feel like many different things, but people commonly report these four symptoms of a weed hangover.
Can Weed Cure a Hangover?
Jack swears by smoking weed to treat a hangover. The first time he tried it was in college as a freshman. He’d been drunk before, and he’d been high before, but after one especially rough night, his world-wise roommate told him weed could blunt his aching hangover.
They couldn’t smoke in the dorm, so they went to his roommate’s car. “Almost immediately I wasn’t focused on feeling bad, just being high, and it felt like my headache and upset stomach were gone,” he says. It also gave him an appetite while recovering. Even today he turns to the green after a night of over-drinking.
Jack’s roommate wasn’t a medical pioneer. Weed has been prescribed—and debated—as a hangover treatment going back generations. Nowadays, plenty of weed smokers testify it’s helped them recover from a hangover, with multiple threads on Reddit filled with users praising the technique. “They don’t call it THC for nothing,” says one, “because it’s The Hangover Cure.” Others are more skeptical, saying marijuana might just exacerbate a hangover headache, even if it’s worked before, and worrying that it might cause anxiety or paranoia, or lead to vomiting.
What Mixing Weed and Alcohol Does to Your Mind
There’s also a healthy debate over whether it’s better to smoke or take an edible, and theories about the right choice between sativa and indica, depending on your symptoms. Some warned of the dreaded crossfade that happens when you combine weed and alcohol (“If you are still drunk, don’t smoke”), while others wondered why anyone would drink at all when they could be smoking weed instead.
Beyond street-level anecdotes, though, what does scientific research say about smoking dope to treat a hangover? Does it actually work? Is it any better than the myriad other dubious hangover cures out there?
“There’s actually not a lot of study on this,” said Kent Hutchison, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He’s studied substance use and cannabis for years, including work on the National Academy of Sciences committee that produced a comprehensive study on the effects of cannabis.
He also said there hasn’t been much study on hangovers in general, which makes the question doubly tricky to answer. But looking at how alcohol leads to a hangover, he said, can help us theorize how smoking weed might help.
Alcohol makes you urinate, which can lead to dehydration; produces an inflammatory response in your immune system; irritates the stomach lining, often provoking nausea or vomiting; lowers your blood sugar, which can make you feel fatigued or jittery; and expands your blood vessels, which can cause headaches.
Many of these problems can be addressed with drinking water and eating food, even when you feel sick. But Hutchison noted that there are three areas in which weed might be particularly helpful. There’s evidence that smoking cannabis can quell nausea and alleviate anxiety. As many smokers can attest, those effects may help you better cope with the day after a night of hard drinking—-it’s just that research hasn’t yet caught up with the folk remedies. Most of what we know about weed and hangovers comes from anecdotal evidence. “It’s true of so many questions around marijuana,” said Hutchison.
Hutchison pointed to another potentially helpful effect of weed: pain relief. Right now, there’s anecdotal evidence to suggest it can help with headache disorders, as well, but not enough clinical study to prove it, according to a 2017 review article in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
Everything You Need to Know About Using Weed for Headaches
There’s some evidence it works best as a headache treatment when you get the combination of THC and CBD, rather than using them separately. Without more study, though, researchers can’t be certain under what circumstances it’s helpful, including for hangovers. “We don’t really know the underlying mechanisms by which marijuana might relieve pain,” Hutchison said. “It’s better to know the real underlying mechanism.”
However cannabis can help with your hangover, it’s important to note that it’s not curing anything so much as letting you live with the consequences of too much drinking while your body recovers. “Marijuana treats the symptoms,” said Elaine M. Burns, naturopathic medical doctor. She’s long advised patients and doctors about using weed therapeutically. The best ways to deal with a hangover, she said, are “A, avoid it begin with, then B, treat the symptoms.”
For A, she offered the usual tips—drink a glass of water between every drink, for example, and don’t overdo it. But let’s say you’ve already botched things and wake up with pounding headache, dry mouth, dizziness, and upset stomach. In that case, Burnes recommended trying some weed alongside more conventional, proven measures. “It’s about rehydrating,” she said, “with water and electrolytes.” Magnesium supplements can be useful, as well as Emergen-C packets, which provide vitamin C and potassium, as an alternative to Gatorade, which contains a lot of sugar. The very best solution to the dehydration problem, she said, is an IV drip and some magnesium.
When it comes time to spark up (or however you get your weed), remember that you’re trying to treat your specific symptoms—choose your strain and method of delivery wisely. Burns noted that THC and CBD both seem to help with pain relief, while CBD helps more with anxiety. Indica strains have more CBD, so take that into account.
About the most we can say with certainty is that you’ll probably feel better while you’re high, recovering from your previous bad decisions, and honestly, it probably won’t hurt. But right now, the science around cannabis is largely unsettled—we’re still in unfamiliar territory, grasping around with anecdotal evidence. If you’re going to use weed to treat a hangover, congratulations, you’re part of the collective experiment.
Cannabis can quell nausea, alleviate anxiety, and dull pain—so we looked at the evidence for it as a hangover cure.