We’ve all been there: eagerly taking one too many rips off a bong or underestimating a particularly strong edible, culminating in a high you just want to end. Luckily, all hope is not lost. Unlike other psychoactive substances, there has never been a lethal THC overdose.

This should give you peace of mind that no matter how paranoid or uneasy you may feel, an “unwelcome” high will always dissipate with no long-term side effects. While time is the only true method for clearing THC from the body, there are several effective solutions for reducing the effects of cannabis.

PLANNING AHEAD: TOLERANCE AND CONSUMPTION METHODS

Most “seasoned” cannabis users consider themselves masters over their tolerance level, but most of us have found ourselves staring in the mirror at a stoned zombie at one time or another. This is especially the case with social gatherings or “hotboxes” where a lot of cannabis is consumed; it may take several minutes before you realise just how much THC you ingested.

Something that catches experienced and novice smokers off guard are new methods of consuming THC. Concentrates have much higher psychoactive cannabinoid content than flower, thus have more potent effects. Edibles, which are made from cannabutter or cannabis extracts, have a long history of thwarting the plans of many-a-smoker with overwhelming highs that kick in an hour later.

Similarly, concentrates or “dabs” may contain THC percentages reaching into the high 70’s and above! As a rule, experiment with new cannabis strains and substances using caution. As exciting as it is to try different forms, it’s always best to give your body enough time to adjust to new methods.

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CBD: NATURAL THC MEDIATION

There’s more to cannabis than simply THC. Dozens of other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are held within the same glandular trichomes as THC. CBD (cannabidiol) is the second most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis species and is the compound most recognised for possessing medical potential. In regard to an unpleasant THC experience, CBD happens to be a natural mediator of its effects.

THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the human endocannabinoid system, causing psychoactive effects. In the presence of CBD, THC is partially obstructed from binding fully, thus tempering the outcomes.

Although CBD doesn’t incite psychoactive effects, it does encourage an enjoyable sensation of sedation that can help to calm down the heart rate and cool anxiety after ingesting too much THC.

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EXERCISE

Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce the unwanted effects of too much cannabis. Studies suggest that the endocannabinoid anandamide is responsible for what is commonly referred to as “runner’s high.” Although this phenomenon has been largely accredited to endorphins, research is now showing that endocannabinoids may have more to do with the euphoric sensation.

How does runner’s high mediate THC? Essentially, running or performing other types of exercise can relieve stress associated with consuming too much cannabis too quickly. What’s more, exercising can be a great way to distract yourself from the effects of the cannabis and get some fresh air into your lungs. If running isn’t your thing, taking a brisk walk is a great way to get the blood flowing and keep the mind off the high.

Practices like yoga and pilates, which are based around proper breathing, are great physical activities for reducing the effects of cannabis. Not only are you centering and strengthening your breath, you are increasing blood flow to other areas of the body, taking attention away from psychoactive effects occurring in the brain.

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FOOD AND WATER

It is always a good idea to hydrate after consuming cannabis - especially if you’ve had too much. Aside from the usual suspect of cottonmouth, water and other hydrating liquids keep the body’s defences strong and sensations, alert. The same goes for eating. Anecdotal studies have long purported that eating foods rich in fat allows the body to metabolise THC faster. Whether this is true or not has yet to be officially concluded. When in doubt, it’s probably worth getting some food in your stomach.

BLACK PEPPER

Cannabis folklore has argued for years that smelling or chewing on peppercorns produces near-immediate results in cooling the effects of THC. It turns out, there is real evidence behind the link between pepper and pot.

Renowned cannabis researcher and “entourage effect” innovator Ethan Russo published a scientific review in the British Journal of Pharmacology citing black pepper’s “phytocannabinoid-terpenoid effect” with THC.

Essentially, terpenoids beta-caryophyllene and others found in pepper bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors as THC. When combined, the two produce a course of therapeutic effects. A similar story has been written about lemons (containing terpene limonene) and pine nuts (pinene).

OTHER DISTRACTIONS

Distractions can help take your mind off a particularly paranoid or irritating high. For some, this might mean cosying up on the couch, watching TV or listening to music, while others might enjoy socialising to shift their attention to friends and family. Whatever the case, distractions fill the time between the peak of THC's effects and when it dissipates.

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COLD SHOWER

In the same way that splashing water on your face in the morning will perk you out of a sleep-induced daze, taking a cold shower is a sure-fire way to bring your body and brain’s attention away from the high. While it may feel shocking at first, a cold shower is a time-tested method to snap you out of it. Even if it doesn’t reduce THC levels in the blood, cold water invigorates the senses.

GOODNIGHT!

If time is the only variable that completely clears THC levels in the bloodstream, we can't think of a better way to pass the time than a good old-fashioned nap. Just beware of oversleeping as this may cause a “greenout” hangover akin to being exhausted and groggy at the same time.

A good 30-45 minute rest should do it for most individuals to wake up feeling more sober and refreshed. This is easier said than done depending on the strain consumed. If you smoked indica or indica-dominant strains, you should find sleep to be a reasonable venture. Sativas, on the other hand, can make it difficult just to sit still!

BE A PAL TO OTHERS

Next time you are at a social cannabis gathering and find one of your friends to be suffering from an excess of THC, be a pal and offer them your friendly guidance. If they are a new smoker, assure them that no real harm will come their way and that the best thing to do is accept the feeling and try to move forward!

 

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