After a long night of drinking alcohol, can marijuana help get rid of that hangover?
We have probably all been there at one time or another – the night (or the whole day!) before was an alcohol binge drinking fest, and you are now paying the price today with a mild to massive hangover. When this happens, you are probably desperate for ANYTHING that will make you feel better, right? A hangover from alcohol can make you feel truly awful. Most of the unpleasant symptoms experienced during a hangover are caused by two factors: alcohol’s diuretic effect that causes the drinker to become dehydrated, and the toxins produced by the liver as it metabolizes the alcohol. Hangover symptoms typically begin when your blood alcohol content drops significantly and is at or near zero, and they are usually quite noticeable (ouch!) the morning after a night of drinking. Resources state that symptoms may include, but are not limited to, fatigue and weakness, excessive thirst and dry mouth, headaches and muscle aches, nausea, vomiting or stomach pain, poor or decreased sleep, increased sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, shakiness, decreased ability to concentrate, mood disturbances, and rapid heartbeat.
While there is no magic cure for hangovers, some people do feel that cannabis can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with them.
Does weed help hangovers?
Smoking weed can help hangover symptoms, especially in the areas of pain management and stomach upset. Some also agree that weed can help with the cranky mood a hangover can put you in and make waiting out the hangover more bearable for yourself and those around you.
Speaking from personal experience, as well as the shared experiences of others, it seems that many cannabis consumers have explored the option of using cannabis to help with their alcohol hangovers. Since many of us use cannabis to treat pain or anxiety anyway, it appears that this would be a good fit. But, is weed a hangover cure?
To find out more information, I asked Dr. Adie Rae (Wilson-Poe). Dr. Adie Rae is an NIH-funded neuroscientist who has been studying cannabis, opioids, and their interaction for her entire career, and she knows a LOT about how cannabis interacts with the brain. She also has strong feelings about cannabis being federally regulated while alcohol is not. She explained that there is no cure for a hangover, that the symptoms only go away with time. That said, cannabis can probably ease some of these symptoms by making them less bothersome. Many patients report that their pain and nausea are more easy to cope with when they use cannabis, and this could be true for a hangover too. Cannabis may also help people catch up on sleep, and ease irritability.
She added that other hangover symptoms may actually get compounded by cannabis. Cognitive impairment, dry mouth, and a rapid heartbeat are experienced by some cannabis users after consumption, and are also often experienced by those with a hangover. We all know that people experience hangovers differently, and not everyone would benefit from cannabis use in an effort to treat their hangover. So, just like finding the right dose, strain, or cannabis consumption method that is most beneficial for you, there may be some self-experimentation needed to see if cannabis can help you attempt to treat your hangover.
Dr. Adie Rae also stated, “On a molecular level, alcohol causes oxidative stress, which leads to cellular damage. A full-spectrum cannabis product (with or without THC) is a great way to introduce dozens of anti-oxidative compounds into the body. There obviously aren’t any studies to suggest that whole-plant preparations “undo” the cellular damage of alcohol, but it makes sense in theory.”
So, does weed cure a hangover?
The short answer is no; but, it can help with some of the hangover symptoms that hit us the hardest. As mentioned, this is a case by case basis, as we all have different endocannabinoid systems that may react very differently from one another. If you are someone who does not have adverse effects from using cannabis at an attempt to cure your hangover, it may help with nausea, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and any lingering moodiness or grouchiness you might feel.
I would agree that the biggest benefit of smoking cannabis after a long night of drinking alcohol is that it makes the hungover person more tolerant of their symptoms. For me, treating the hangover is first about getting yourself re-hydrated and managing any kind of physical pain (typically a headache). Once those things are remedied to the best of my ability, I turn to cannabis to help me with the rest. I like to choose a strain and consumption method that my body is used to, and try to stay away from any cannabis with super high THC content or cannabis that I know has a more uppy, energizing effect on me (at least to begin with, I might grab that uppy strain later in the day when I am in the homestretch and needed to get things done). I would advise anyone who is attempting to use the “weed hangover cure” to do the same. For example, if you are not used to doing dabs, this would not be the time to start because it may actually have an adverse effect on your body, making the hangover situation far worse.
Likewise, if you are used to puffing along at a nice little hybrid pot strain, now would not be the best time for a very strong indica or sativa. Understand that all of your systems are reeling from the overconsumption of alcohol and that taking everything nice and slow is your best bet right now!l One of the best things for all readers to take away from this article is that alcohol is toxic, and it will make you sick if you consume too much of it. Typically, alcohol is a waste product that the body tries to excrete, and even a tiny bit of alcohol has an affect on all of the body’s systems. If you drink more than your body is able to process, the alcohol level builds up in the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body, leading to intoxication. This distribution can affect the body’s nerve endings and slow down brain function, amongst other things.
Now, compare that experience to the consumption of marijuana, where the hangover is much less likely. While I have experienced what I suppose you could call a “weed hangover”, the symptoms are completely different. I generally just feel sluggish and somewhat groggy. I have never had issues of pain or discomfort with any of my bodily functions…although I might be a little more giggly than usual! The few times this has happened to me it has been because of overconsumption of strong cannabis edibles or cannabis concentrates, which goes back to the discussion of knowing your body and its limits.
Being an activist, I also feel the need to point out that in many places cannabis possession and use is still against the law, while alcohol use is not (and also quite readily available). But, as with any substance, whether it be alcohol, cannabis, caffeine, or even sugar, it is important to keep everything in balance with your lifestyle. But, if you find yourself waking up only to realize you have overdone it with drinking alcohol the night before, using cannabis to cure a hangover may actually be one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself in an effort to get through what might end up being a very long and trying day for your body. While there is no magic weed hangover cure, it is certainly possible that it could alleviate many of those nasty hangover symptoms.