Hangovers – everybody hates them. And if you think you're in the clear by cutting booze out of your lifestyle, we've got some bad news: weed hangovers exist. But there is an upside. Symptoms are typically much less intense than booze-based hangovers. Still, the effects of weed hangovers are not to be underestimated.
In this article, we explain what a marijuana hangover is, including its symptoms, possible remedies and how you can avoid incurring its mildly nagging wrath.
What is a Weed Hangover?
Alcohol hangovers are the pits. And as we age, the symptoms only seem to exacerbate – in both intensity and duration. Typically, signs of an alcohol-induced hangover include:
- Body pain or discomfort
- Dry mouth or dehydration
- Increased thirst
- Light sensitivity
- Making a commitment "to never do this again," but almost certainly go back on that
Weed hangovers seldom veer into the realm of alcohol symptoms. Still, a marijuana-based hangover carries its own pains and discomforts worth avoiding. Typical symptoms resemble the subdued, uncomfortable pains you'd experience from alcohol.
Read on to learn about what those symptoms are.
Are Weed Hangovers Real?
As with most cannabis topics, this requires more clinical analysis before making definite conclusions. Overall, anecdotal evidence and scant studies spanning several decades seem to suggest that pot hangovers are indeed real.
In 1985, 13 male cannabis consumers were analyzed over one evening and morning smoke session. Those using actual THC, as opposed to a placebo, were reported to have displayed hangover effects. Other studies have concluded similarly. A 2017 analysis of over 1600 chronic pain patients found 21.7% noting cannabis' olfactory effects and a marijuana hangover as two of many reported pain points.
A study of 12 smokers over two weekends in 1990 concluded differently. Researchers did not associate cannabis consumption with "hangover syndrome" like alcohol in this case. Since its publishing, some have argued that these findings may not be reliable today, citing rising THC potency. They argue that today's medical and recreational cannabis is much higher in THC than decades ago and capable of producing hangover effects. We cannot verify these claims at this time.
It's also worth noting that particular natural and lab-produced cannabinoids have not been studied sufficiently and it remains unclear if they’re capable of generating hangover effects. With new consumption options gaining popularity in recent years, we may need to further explore the subject relating to items like Delta-8 hangovers and other similar cases.
Weed Hangover Symptoms
Milder but similar to an alcohol hangover, weed hangover symptoms often include:
- Dry eyes or mouth
- Mental fatigue
- Mild nausea
- Physical fatigue
As we noted earlier, research over several years has indicated the presence of hangover symptoms in cannabis consumers. In 1975, a double-blind study of asthmatic patients concluded that medical cannabis did not alleviate symptoms. The analysis also found that use led to depression and hangover symptoms. A study of nine subjects in 1976 saw a mild hangover as the most major complaint in the morning after a night of smoking between 10 and 30mg of THC. A second test that year noted that patients reported hangover symptoms when starting at around 15mg.
Additional research has focused on particular cannabis use side effects. While not testing for hangovers per se, certain studies may verify the reality of a weed hangover. One example is decreased saliva secretion. In 2006, a study concluded that the endocannabinoid anandamide decreased saliva secretion in submandibular glands via the body's CB1 and CB2 receptors.
How to Determine If It's a Weed Hangover
Before calling symptoms a weed hangover, consider that you may also be dealing with lingering use effects. Essentially, you might not be hungover; you may simply still be high. Typically, lingering use effects occur after waking up. You may feel groggy, have a bit of brain fog, or have some exhaustion or lethargy. It's a fine line between determining the two side effects and could be part of the reason why some people don't believe hangovers exist.
In other situations, you may be dealing with a case of being crossfaded. Being crossfaded comes after consuming cannabis and alcohol. The combined effects become pronounced soon after the high and buzz combine in your body. Often bringing out the worst of both consumption experiences, crossfaded symptoms include:
- Changes in body temperature
- Increased heart rate
You may also be feeling the effects of a changed routine. New diets, adjusted sleep habits, or other alterations to your daily routine that can occur with cannabis consumption could affect you in ways that feel like a hangover. If you notice this outcome, take stock of your daily regimen.
And while it won't be the case for new consumers, marijuana withdrawal symptoms can mirror a hangover. They include:
- Body pain
- Body temperature changes
- Changes in mood
- Decreased appetite
- Sleep struggles
How to Prevent Weed Hangovers
Preventing a marijuana hangover is simple enough once you identify the source of the problem. As is the case with alcohol, you can choose one or several options to help prevent any adverse outcomes.
First, you can avoid crossfading by only consuming cannabis or alcohol. Consider a more ratioed approach if you can't stick to one. Rather than going one for one with each, consider a different tactic. If you plan to drink more than one glass, limit yourself to only having a puff of pot. Or, if you'd instead prefer to consume larger quantities of cannabis, consider having a glass or less of alcohol. Avoiding shots and other drinks with high ABV may also help.
Another option is to lower your cannabis dosage. If the average consumer starts to experience hangover effects after ingesting 15mg of THC, consider sticking to a 2.5 to 10mg dose. Flower consumers can also lower their dosage by monitoring how much they smoke and choosing a lower THC cultivar. Remember that THC content isn't the only potency factor in pot products. Whenever possible, consider the whole plant profile and its potential effects (known as the entourage effect).
If you struggle to find the right dosage, consider the start low, go slow method. Start with a small 2.5 to 5mg dose and assess yourself after 45 minutes. Then decide if you need more to reach your desired effects.
If you're experiencing lingering effects from cannabis, you may want to consider abstaining or detoxing from pot for a bit. Go on a full-fledged tolerance break for several weeks. Or, take on and off days if you cannot go long periods without cannabis.
It's also worth noting that not every consumer can try these methods. Medical patients may be bound to more regimented dosing. If so, contact your physician before changing your routine.
Weed Hangover Remedies
Much like an alcohol hangover, there are many supposed remedies users report may help come down from this uncomfortable experience. Nothing is surefire, but eating and drinking healthy is always a good idea, even if you don't have a hangover. Eating a meal rich in protein and healthy fats is believed to help reduce cannabis hangover symptoms.
Staying hydrated should also be a top priority. Have several glasses of water anytime you consume cannabis. Sugar-free juice may also aid in recovery. Coffee could do the trick with its caffeine, but it also runs a risk of further dehydration.
Other remedies that may help with hangovers include over-the-counter pain medication and a relaxing shower or bath.
Unfortunately, not any one of these done in isolation is a cure-all. Find which remedy works for you, and it will be easier to ride out any short-term unpleasantness.
Now that you know what a cannabis hangover is, you can proactively prevent this uncommon but uncomfortable outcome. Avoid increasing your hangover potential by following the tips listed above. And, if you end up with a hangover, try to rest and eat as healthy as possible.
Most importantly, remember that this will pass soon enough. Learn from the experience and you can avoid it happening again in the future.
The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.