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. Cannabis is a plant that is meant to be used with intention. As prominent medical cannabis advocate Steve DeAngelo stated in The Cannabis Manifesto, “Use cannabis for wellness, not intoxication.” THC is a powerful cannabinoid and when too much is consumed, it can lead to feelings of discomfort, paranoid, anxiety, nausea, sweatiness, shakiness, loss of equilibrium, or just feeling “too high”. Sometimes it’s called “greening out” within cannabis circles.
Here we will share some practical ways to reduce or combat the effects of THC if you feel you’ve overconsumed. Overconsumption is easy to do, especially if a product is more potent in THC than you’re used to, or perhaps the onset of a particular product was lengthy, leading you to double-dose if you weren’t “feeling it” at first.
It’s important before we go on to establish a very important fact. No one has ever died from a cannabis overdose. To die from a cannabis overdose, you would have to smoke 800 joints consecutively. At that point, you wouldn’t die from the cannabis, but rather carbon monoxide poisoning. While we encourage our patients to enjoy cannabis medicine, we don’t worry too much that any of them will smoke 800 joints in succession.
Overconsumption can happen, and it’s important patients who receive their medical cannabis certification with Compassionate Clinics of America 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, 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 hydration is important. Drinking sufficient water will help the THC move faster through your blood stream. Similarly, eating (especially if you’ve had an edible), will help your digestive system move to break down the cannabinoids in your body quicker, allowing for quicker metabolization. However, too, if you have had an edible, avoid eating high-fat foods, as these also act as a carrier for cannabinoids.
If your mobility allows, getting up and going for a run, or a quick-paced walk may help you feel more comfortable, as sweating helps your body 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.
Chew Black Pepper
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 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.
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 soap and shampoo, and feel the suds on your body, and there’s nothing like that refreshing “out of the shower” sensation.
If you’re feeling too much of your THC, take a shower or a long, hot bath and be mindful of the way your body feels in the warm water. Notice the sensations you feel as the hot water runs over your face and body and mentally visualize the discomfort being washed away from your body. 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 the effects of THC. 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. 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.
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. 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. While traces of THC may stay in your blood stream and in your fat stores for weeks, the effects of THC can wear off pretty quickly and you will eventually feel back to “normal”.
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, we also encourage our patients to use our resources to learn more about cannabis while exploring different products that work for them.