The alcohol industry is lobbying hard against the legalization of cannabis in various states. The initial suggestion was that purveyors of alcohol would lose up to $2 billion a year. In fact, in 2017, Aspen became the first city in America to record higher marijuana sales than alcohol sales.
Moreover, researchers at the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University found that medical marijuana cut 15% off alcohol sales. In locations where recreational use is permitted, that percentage is likely higher. However, a lot of people still enjoy using both cannabis and alcohol.
Millennials indeed seem to prefer cannabis. However, the purported doomsday scenario for the alcohol industry has not played out thus far. A 2019 study into alcohol sales in states where cannabis is legal had interesting findings. The focus was on states where marijuana was legal the longest: Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state. Sales of spirits in all three states increased, from 3.6% in Oregon to 7.4% in Colorado.
The sales of wine and beer were less robust. Indeed, there was a slight reduction in the last few years. One of the analysts involved suggested that cheap beer was at the highest risk.
What Happens When You Drink Too Much Alcohol?
If you overindulge on alcohol, marijuana could prove a lifesaver when you’re nursing a brutal hangover. Before we go into further detail, though, let’s look at what excessive alcohol intake leads to:
- Increased Urine Production: The result is dehydration, which manifests itself in symptoms such as a thumping headache, insatiable thirst, and dizziness.
- Inflammatory Response: When you drink too much alcohol, your immune system triggers agents that cause physical symptoms such as decreased appetite, memory issues, and a lack of concentration.
- Irritated Stomach Lining: Your hangover also comes with increased stomach acid production and delays the process of your stomach emptying. The result includes vomiting, nausea, and pain.
- Your Blood Vessels Expand: The result is a severe headache.
Can Cannabis Relieve Nausea?
The research available to date suggests that the answer is ‘yes.’ There are a myriad of studies that show the capacity for THC to reduce nausea and vomiting. However, most research focuses on how cannabis helps nausea in cancer patients. One exception is a study by Parker et al., published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2011.
The researchers, on that occasion, looked at whether cannabinoids could regulate nausea and vomiting. They found that THC and CBD helped alleviate nausea and vomiting. The study also suggested that cannabis was potentially more effective than over-the-counter remedies that have limited efficacy.
Interestingly, even the United States National Cancer Institute wrote that cannabis could help with nausea. On its website, it says that THC “can help relieve pain and nausea, reduce inflammation, and can act as an antioxidant.”
Marijuana Stimulates Appetite
The nausea you feel ensures that eating or drinking are the last things you want to do. However, the longer you steer clear of food, the worse things will get. The age-old ‘remedy’ of a greasy fry-up is no better than healthier alternatives. You are better off eating fatty food before you go drinking, to reduce the impact of the hangover.
Eggs make an ideal hangover food because they contain an amino acid called cysteine. It clears your liver of acetaldehyde, the toxin that causes hangovers. So do avocados, which are an excellent source of potassium.
As you know, the THC in marijuana helps cause the phenomenon called ‘the munchies,’ where you suddenly crave food. Cannabis has proved successful in assisting appetite loss in some cancer patients. It can undoubtedly stimulate appetite in non-cancer patients as well.
A 2015 study by Koch et al., for instance, discovered that specific neurons at the base of your brain increase appetite when activated by THC. In 2018, Washington State University looked at how cannabis use alters eating behavior. The researchers dosed lab rats with marijuana vapor. They identified brain regions that enter ‘hungry’ mode when under the influence of cannabis.
Smoking cannabis won’t do anything for your dehydration directly. However, it may reduce your nausea enough so you can drink plenty of water. In some instances, you may experience a feeling of ‘dry mouth’ after smoking. Although it usually is annoying, it could prove a boon when hungover as it forces you to consume some liquid.
Cannabis Cuts the Severity of your Headache
The incessant thumping in your skull is the rhythm of a hangover, and it can be excruciating. In some cases, you’ll do your best to close the curtains and lie in bed all day. Hangover survivors know that moving around is painful, as is sensitivity to light. Alas, lying in bed till 3 pm is not an option if you work or have kids to take care of. Perhaps cannabis can help?
A study by Rhyne et al., published in May 2016, looked at the impact of medical marijuana on 121 migraine sufferers and found that the average number of monthly migraine headaches halved among those that regularly consumed cannabis. Moreover, 85% of users found that cannabis reduced their headache frequency, and inhalation led to the fastest relief.
A study by Cuttler et al., published in The Journal of Pain, looked at the short and long-term effects of cannabis on headaches and migraines. It found that inhaled cannabis reduces self-reported headache and migraine severity by 47% and 49%, respectively. So it may be worth a try for your hangover headache.
Marijuana Helps You Sleep
If you’re hungover, likely, you were out drinking until the early hours of the morning. As such, part of your symptoms is caused by a lack of sleep. First of all, you can’t enjoy a good quality of sleep when a large amount of alcohol is involved. Sure, you may sleep for a few hours. However, it isn’t as restful or rejuvenating as non-alcohol-infused sleep.
Even if you have the opportunity to sleep, your hangover could prevent it from happening. Sleeping helps your symptoms because it offers your liver a chance to flush the alcohol from the system. Since alcohol acts as a diuretic, trying to sleep when hungover is problematic. You’ll probably need to rush to the bathroom every ten minutes.
When you smoke the right cannabis strain, though, you may drift effortlessly to sleep and hopefully wake up feeling better. A marijuana strain like Jack Herer should help put a spring in your step while simultaneously fighting pain.
Choosing the Right Cannabis Strains for Your Hangover
With so many strains and delivery methods to choose from, it takes time to determine which combination works for you. For example, vaping your cannabis seems like a good idea because you don’t have to get out of bed. It is also fast and easy, and you can purchase potent cartridges.
It is best to choose a strain that contains both CBD and THC. Preferably in a ratio of at least 1:1 (though higher CBD strains are probably better). Research suggests that the 1:1 rate is the perfect combination to handle the inflammation caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
CBD is also excellent at helping the body retain water and combat dehydration. Indica strains are generally better in the immediate aftermath of your drinking session. Sativa-dominant hybrids work best if you’re suffering from a headache.
Some of the best strains to use after a hangover include:
Final Thoughts on Marijuana for Hangovers
Research illustrates that cannabis is capable of combating most of the horrible effects of excessive alcohol consumption. It stimulates appetite, relieves nausea and vomiting, and helps you sleep. It may also give you energy and reduce the severity of your headache.
If nothing else, cannabis can make the symptoms of your hangover feel more tolerable. It isn’t a silver bullet that’ll make the vicious symptoms disappear into the night (or morning). However, it is likely to make you feel much better.
Also, please remember that alcohol is effectively a poison that was never intended for human consumption. When you drink too much of it, there are often health consequences. It is ironic that marijuana, which helps alleviate the negative symptoms of alcohol, is the only one of the two substances that is illegal.