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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.

1. Headaches

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 — aka, dry mouth — 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.

4. Fatigue

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 — 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 you’re experiencing weed hangover, likely you’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 I’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, there’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.

Baron, E. P., Lucas, P., Eades, J., & Hogue, O. (2018). Patterns of medicinal cannabis use, strain analysis, and substitution effect among patients with migraine, headache, arthritis, and chronic pain in a medicinal cannabis cohort. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s10194-018-0862-2

Bonnet, U., & Preuss, U. W. (2017). The cannabis withdrawal syndrome: current insights. Substance abuse and rehabilitation, 8, 9–37. https://doi.org/10.2147/SAR.S109576

DaSilva, A. F., Nascimento, T. D., Jassar, H., Heffernan, J., Toback, R. L., Lucas, S., DosSantos, M. F., Bellile, E. L., Boonstra, P. S., Taylor, J., Casey, K. L., Koeppe, R. A., Smith, Y. R., & Zubieta, J. K. (2017). Dopamine D2/D3 imbalance during migraine attack and allodynia in vivo. Neurology, 88(17), 1634–1641. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000003861

Jacobus, J., Squeglia, L.M., Escobar, S. et al. Changes in marijuana use symptoms and emotional functioning over 28-days of monitored abstinence in adolescent marijuana users. Psychopharmacology234, 3431–3442 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-017-4725-3

Mathew, R. J., Wilson, W. H., Turkington, T. G., & Coleman, R. E. (1998). Cerebellar activity and disturbed time sense after THC. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9666122

Piper, B. J., Beals, M. L., Abess, A. T., Nichols, S. D., Martin, M. W., Cobb, C. M., & DeKeuster, R. M. (2017). Chronic pain patients’ perspectives of medical cannabis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5845915/

Prestifilippo, J. P., Fernández-Solari, J., de la Cal, C., Iribarne, M., Suburo, A. M., Rettori, V., … Elverdin, J. C. (2006). Inhibition of salivary secretion by activation of cannabinoid receptors. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16946411

Schlienz, N. J., Budney, A. J., Lee, D. C., & Vandrey, R. (2017). Cannabis Withdrawal: A Review of Neurobiological Mechanisms and Sex Differences. Current addiction reports, 4(2), 75–81. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-017-0143-1

Stein, M. D. (n.d.). Marijuana use patterns and sleep among community-based young adults. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10550887.2015.1132986

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.

How to Conquer a Weed Hangover

Despite some debate over their validity, weed hangovers are likely real. While research on the subject is limited, anecdotal reports suggest that smoking marijuana can trigger next-day symptoms in some people.

Despite the similar names, weed hangovers aren’t quite the same as those brought on by alcohol. And for many, weed hangovers tend to be more tolerable than alcohol-related ones.

Common symptoms of a weed hangover include:

  • fatigue
  • lethargy
  • brain fog
  • dry eyes and mouth
  • headaches
  • mild nausea

Read on for tips on how to deal with these effects and to learn more about the debate within the medical community over whether weed hangovers are indeed a thing.

A weed hangover will typically go away on its own. There isn’t much you can do for an immediate fix, but these tips can offer relief:

  • Stay hydrated. The most important thing you can do before, during, and after weed use is drink enough water. This will help relieve symptoms such as headaches, dry mouth, and dry eyes.
  • Eat a nutritious breakfast. Opt for a healthy, balanced breakfast the morning after weed use. Try a small serving of whole-grain carbohydrates along with a lean source of protein and healthy fat.
  • Take a shower. A shower can help you to feel refreshed and hydrated the morning after smoking weed. The steam from a hot shower can open your airways.
  • Make some ginger tea.Ginger can help with digestive symptoms, such as nausea. Add a bit of grated ginger to hot water with lemon and honey to soothe an upset stomach.
  • Drink caffeine. A cup of coffee or caffeinated tea can help you feel more alert.
  • Try CBD. Some anecdotal reports suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) can counteract some of the symptoms associated with a weed hangover. Just steer clear of any preparations containing THC.
  • Take a pain reliever. For a persistent headache, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

If you can, try to take it easy for the rest of the day. With a good night’s rest, you should wake up feeling like yourself again.

If you’re feeling a little off after using weed, it may not necessarily be a hangover that you’re experiencing.

Here’s some other potential culprits:

  • Drinking alcohol or using other drugs while using weed. If you tend to consume other substances while smoking marijuana, they might affect how you feel the next morning.
  • Marijuana withdrawal. If you smoke weed on a regular basis, it’s possible to experience withdrawal symptoms when you aren’t smoking. Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include changes in mood, insomnia, and difficulty focusing.
  • Lingering effects of weed. How long a weed high lasts depends on factors such as dose, concentration, and delivery method, in addition to your own tolerance and metabolism. Most of the time, a marijuana high lasts between one and four hours.

If at least five hours have passed since you last used weed, and you haven’t had any alcohol or used other substances, you’re likely just experiencing the after effects of weed.

There isn’t much evidence surrounding weed hangovers. Existing studies are often outdated or have major limitations.

Older studies

One well-known study on weed hangovers dates back to 1985. In the study, 13 males participated in a series of sessions that involved smoking either a weed cigarette or a placebo cigarette and then completing a series of tests.

The tests included sorting cards and judging time intervals. When the tests were repeated the following morning, the group that smoked weed cigarettes judged time intervals to be 10 or 30 seconds longer than they actually were.

The authors concluded that, although the day-after effects of smoking weed may be subtle, they probably exist. However, this study’s small sample size and all-male participants are significant limitations.

A 1990 study had similar limitations. It involved 12 male marijuana users who smoked marijuana over one weekend and a placebo over another, then completed a series of subjective and behavioral tests. But these authors concluded that weed didn’t seem to have much of an effect the following morning.

Recent research

More recently, a 2017 study explored perspectives toward medical cannabis among people with chronic pain. One of the self-reported undesirable effects of marijuana was a hangover described as a foggy, non-alert feeling in the morning.

However, the authors of the study did not indicate how many participants reported this effect.

A 2015 review on the use of medical marijuana recommends that healthcare professionals teach patients about the hangover effect. It also recommends describing it as lasting at least one day after the last time marijuana was used.

more research is needed

There are, of course, numerous anecdotal reports of marijuana hangovers, suggesting they are possible. More research needs to be done to understand causes, symptoms, and risk factors associated with weed hangovers as well as recommended self-care.

In addition, most of the studies described above focused on the morning-after effects of smoking a small amount of marijuana. Research exploring the effects of overconsumption is also needed.

The only way to guarantee you won’t have a weed hangover is to avoid weed. Still, there are plenty of things you can due to minimize the negative effects of weed.

  • Avoid smoking weed the night before an important activity. If you tend to experience weed hangovers, try to avoid using marijuana the night before something important, such as an exam or stressful day at work.
  • Take days off. If possible, avoid using weed on a daily basis. Continuous weed use can build up your tolerance, which might eventually trigger withdrawal symptoms in the morning.
  • Limit your use. You might be more likely to experience a weed hangover if you overconsume. Decide on an appropriate quantity before you get high, and stick with that.
  • Try low-THC marijuana. THC is the active ingredient in weed. No one’s totally sure how THC affects weed hangover symptoms, but it’s worth trying low-THC strains to see if they help prevent morning-after symptoms.
  • Use caution when trying a new product. You might find you react differently to weed depending on the dose, concentration, and method of delivery. When trying something for the first time, start with a low dose.
  • Don’t mix it with other substances. The morning-after effects of weed might be more intense if you tend to smoke weed while also drinking or using other drugs.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about the effects of weed and medication. Remember that any over-the-counter or prescription medication you take can interact with weed. This could affect how you feel in the morning.

Contrary to popular belief, weed can be addictive. The more often you use it, the more likely you are to become dependent on it.

If you regularly experience weed hangovers, they could be a sign that you’re overdoing it. If you’re having a hard time curbing your use, it may be time to reach out to your doctor for help.

Other potential signs of weed misuse include:

  • using it on a daily or near-daily basis
  • experiencing cravings for it
  • spending a lot of time thinking about it or obtaining it
  • using more over time
  • using more than you intended
  • continuing to use it despite negative consequences
  • keeping a constant supply
  • spending a lot of money on it, even when you can’t afford it
  • avoiding situations or places where you can’t use it
  • driving or operating machinery while high
  • trying and failing to stop using it
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop

"Weed hangover" is a casual term used to refer to the lingering effects of weed. We'll offer some tips for relief, take a look at the research behind this phenomenon, and give you some guidance on how to prevent them in the future.