Greening Out: What Does It Mean? & 10 Tricks to Feel Better
At Compassionate Clinics of America, as much as we love cannabis and believe in its medicinal properties, there is too much of a good thing. Marijuana is a plant that is meant to be used with intention.
What does it mean to have “greened out?”
As prominent medical cannabis advocate Steve DeAngelo stated in The Cannabis Manifesto, “Use cannabis for wellness, not intoxication.”
“Greening out” is a term commonly used to describe the symptoms and experience of feeling overwhelmed, uncomfortable, or experiencing adverse effects after consuming too much marijuana.
While every different person may react differently to too much weed, when someone “greens out,” symptoms occur such as extreme anxiety, limb heaviness, paranoia, dizziness, nausea, increased heart rate, sweating, disorientation, psychological symptoms, and sometimes even getting sick and vomiting. These symptoms can be distressing and uncomfortable, leading to a negative experience when the system reacts to consuming the plant.
The term “greening out” is believed to originate from marijuana being the color green and the green tinge someone gets to their skin when they feel unwell or “out of sorts.”
While greening out can be a very uncomfortable and in some cases scary experience for cannabis users, rarely does someone have to seek medical attention from consuming cannabis. Rather, there are several strategies one can try if they feel like they’ve had too much weed.
Can you “overdose” from too much cannabis?
Some people may refer to when you green out as an overdose.
It’s important before we go on to establish a very important fact: No one has ever died from a cannabis overdose, even in extreme cases.
To die from a cannabis overdose, you would have to smoke 800 joints consecutively.
At that point, you wouldn’t die from the plant or the cannabinoids, but rather carbon monoxide poisoning.
While we encourage our patients to enjoy plant medicine, we don’t worry too much that any of them will smoke 800 joints in succession, however one would certainly green out.
How can you counteract the symptoms of too much weed?
Over-consumption can happen, and it’s important patients who receive their medical marijuana certification with Compassionate Clinics of America and get their medical marijuana card in their state understand that and are equipped with some methods to make them feel a bit more comfortable.
Here are a few ways:
Counteract with CBD
Cannabidiol, or CBD and THC have an interesting relationship.
While THC is often used in medical cannabis therapies to enhance the effects of CBD via The Entourage Effect, CBD can be used to counter the effects of THC as recent studies are showing.
Essentially, CBD, through the Entourage Effect, will help balance the THC, and the other cannabinoids and terpenes in your cannabis strain, leading to an overall more pleasant effect.
To use CBD in this instance, try vaping it or using some CBD (with zero THC) in a sublingual or oral product.
Drink and Eat
We already know that staying hydrated is important. Drinking water or even your favorite fruit juice will help the THC move faster through your bloodstream if you green out. You will want to be sure to avoid alcohol.
Similarly, eating (especially if you’ve had cannabis edibles), will help your digestive system move to break down the cannabinoids in your system quicker, allowing for quicker metabolization.
However, too, if you have been eating cannabis such as through an edible, tincture, or oil, avoid eating high-fat foods, as these also act as a carrier for cannabinoids and can cause more rapid absorption of cannabinoids,
If your mobility allows, getting up and going for a run, or a quick-paced walk may help you feel more comfortable, as getting your blood pressure up, and sweating helps your system flush out toxins (and the THC) quicker than if you were to just stay crashed on the couch (we get it, it’s tempting!).
Not up to leave the house? Find creative ways to sweat, like doing jumping jacks, skipping rope, or putting on one of your favorite at-home exercise videos.
This sounds like a what they used to call an “wives tale”, but chewing black pepper may combat THC due to the cannabinoid receptors of the brain and how other substances in cannabis and terpenes bind to these receptors.
Interestingly, black pepper and cannabis bind to the cannabinoid receptors of the brain in similar ways; the terpene beta-caryophyllene in pepper binds to the same parts of your brain that cannabis does.
In other words, these two substances interact with the endocannabinoid system in similar ways.
A Hot Shower or Bath
One can’t deny that a long bath or hot shower always feels fantastic. It’s wonderful to feel the hot water, the smell of soap and shampoo, and feel the suds on your skin, and there’s nothing like that refreshing “out of the shower” sensation.
If you’re feeling too much of a “high” from cannabis use and you green out, turn on your favorite music or a podcast, and take a shower or a long, hot bath and be mindful of the way you feel in the warm water.
Notice the sensations you feel as the hot water runs over your face and body and mentally visualize the discomfort or the symptoms of greening out being washed away from your body or dissolving like smoke in the air.
Go one step further and mindfully take care of your body by smoothing on your favorite cream or body oil once you step out of that refreshing shower.
Turn to Essential Oils
Essential oils aren’t for everyone, but they are around us in the natural world! In fact, terpenes are what are in the essential oils of all plants (including cannabis) that give them their aroma, flavor, and sometimes effects.
The terpenes in essential oils are fantastic ways to calm symptoms of over-consumption. Use lavender (which also contains linalool like some cannabis) lemongrass, rose, or chamomile to start, as these have been revered for centuries in plant medicine as calming essential oils.
Putting oils in a diffuser will allow you to bring calm into your direct environment. Play around with different aromas, and discover which essential oils work for you!
Focus and Forget
Even though THC in abundance can sometimes lead to anxiety and racing thoughts, sometimes focusing on something will help you forget the effects you’re experiencing.
Ensure you are in a safe space, and enjoy a coloring book for adults, draw a picture, write something even if it’s silly, read a book or magazine, or simply stream something on TV or watch a movie.
While doing this, do your best to focus on what you’re doing and not how you’re feeling. Remember, feeling sick from smoking weed is not a life threatening condition!
Brewing your favorite blend into a cup of joe, or steeping some caffeinated black tea, or having a caffeinated soda may just help give you the stimulation you need if you’re feeling a bit stuck to your couch.
Interestingly, caffeine is also a diuretic, making you urinate more frequently, helping you body to metabolize and clear the THC faster.
Sleep it Off
As we’re always told as kids “it’ll be better in the morning”. Do your best to get cozy and drift off to sleep. We do not recommend you use sleeping pills to fall asleep after your green out in case of over sedation; just let yourself drift off while taking deep breaths.
While you may wake up a bit groggy, you will start to feel better as the day goes on.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Never panic when you feel you may have overconsumed THC whether its from smoking weed, eating edibles, or consuming cannabis in another format. While traces of THC may stay in your blood stream and in your fat stores for weeks, the effects of the cannabinoid can wear off pretty quickly and you will eventually feel back to “normal”.
Can people be allergic to cannabis?
One thing to note is that some people do get adverse reactions to cannabis because of a condition called Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS).
Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a relatively rare condition characterized by recurrent episodes of severe nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain in individuals who use cannabis regularly. The exact cause of CHS is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the long-term use of marijuana, specifically strains of high potency, as well as the dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system.
The symptoms of CHS can be quite distressing and often occur in a cyclical pattern, and intense nausea and vomiting that can last for several hours or even days, leading to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and weight loss. A characteristic of people with CHS is that they often find relief from symptoms by taking hot showers or baths.
CHS is a relatively rare condition, and most people who use cannabis do not develop it. However, if you or someone you know experiences persistent and severe nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain after using cannabis, it is important to seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The most effective treatment of CHS is to discontinue consuming marijuana.
Consuming Cannabis Safely
When consuming medical cannabis when you get your medical marijuana card in your state, it’s important that you recognize the importance of intention, and that there are times when there can be too much of a good thing. When you experience greening out or feel sick, that is when your body reacts to too much cannabis, therefore, it’s a sign that you’re ingesting too much weed.
At Compassionate Clinics of America, we encourage our patients to always start low and go slow when using cannabis, to be aware of the potency of products, and find the right dose for them.
When we provide patients with a medical cannabis certification so they can get a medical marijuana card in their state, we also encourage our patients to use our resources to learn more about cannabis while exploring different products that work for them.