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.
Cannabis Use and Hangovers: Can It Help?
Ah, the hangover. Just about everyone has felt the unpleasant after effects of drinking too much alcohol, and it’s not something most people want to revisit. Of course, it still happens. But rather than trying (and often failing) with the traditional methods of black coffee and a hearty breakfast, consider using cannabis instead.
Yes, you read that right. While everyone experiences hangovers somewhat differently, marijuana has a variety of effects that can help ease a wide range of symptoms. From nausea to headaches, using marijuana can help you feel better within just minutes.
You’re Treating Hangover Symptoms, Not Using a Miracle Cure
While no studies have shown that cannabis actually CURES a hangover, it’s important to remember that there actually isn’t any “cure” for a hangover except time. So with this in mind, the key to feeling better is to treat the symptoms of a hangover so that they are more manageable. Just as marijuana hasn’t been proven to be a cure for any illness, it has been shown to make an extensive list of conditions less cumbersome.
Here are just some of the common hangover symptoms that cannabis use helps to ease:
- Stress / Anxiety
- Lack of Appetite
- Difficulty Sleeping
Again, while claims of marijuana actually curing hangovers appear to be anecdotal, most modern medical professionals agree that it can be a helpful treatment. In fact, marijuana use in Arizona is only currently legal for medical purposes, specifically when it comes to treating illnesses with similar symptoms to those listed above.
Does the Kind of Cannabis Matter?
Cannabis is a plant, and like other plants there are different varieties. Those who need to feel more alert while staving off nausea and pain would do well to try a sativa product, while an indica may help others feel more at ease and relaxed enough to sleep off their hangover. Many more will benefit greatly from a hybrid product, experiencing all-around relief and ease while not getting too sleepy. Others may nevertheless want to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC entirely, opting instead for the gentle full-body effect of CBD products.
Likewise, the way you consume marijuana can play a role in how it affects your hangover symptoms. While a rolled joint or bowl may do in a pinch for a lot of people, it might not be the best choice for others. People with nausea, for example, may prefer inhaling marijuana via a vape pen as opposed to edibles.
Others may prefer sipping it in a tea for fast, long-lasting relaxation. Tea is an especially great option for hangovers, as you can combine cannabis flower with just about any regular loose leaf tea that may be beneficial on its own. Those with nausea or an overall feeling of malaise, for example, would do well to try a marijuana-infused peppermint tea.
Using Marijuana Before Drinking Can Help Too
You don’t necessarily need to wait for a hangover to hit to start feeling the positive effects of marijuana. In fact, many people who use marijuana prior to drinking alcohol find that their hangover symptoms are lessened or non-existent. But if cannabis has not actually been proven to cure (or prevent) hangovers, then what gives?
Well, it turns out that there are a variety of factors at play. For example, many people who are already feeling the effects of marijuana are more likely to drink alcohol slower and in lesser quantities. Many people also tend to experience those famous “munchies” and eat more than they would otherwise. Having food in your stomach slows alcohol absorption and can help prevent more severe hangover symptoms.
Of course, you can always skip the risk of having a hangover entirely by not drinking. In fact, many people these days are switching over to marijuana use entirely for whenever they want to get a “buzz” going but don’t want the often-debilitating effects of alcohol. Again, only medical use is currently legal in Arizona. But if you have any questions, the pros at All Greens Dispensary are here to help!
Cannabis Use and Hangovers: Can It Help? Ah, the hangover. Just about everyone has felt the unpleasant after effects of drinking too much alcohol, and it’s not something most people want to