The alcohol industry is lobbying hard against the legalization of weed in various states, and with good reason: there is a suggestion that the industry could lose $2 billion a year and in 2017, Aspen became the first city in America where marijuana sales were higher than alcohol sales.
Moreover, researchers at the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University found that medical marijuana legalization cut 15% off alcohol sales, and in locations where recreational use is permitted, that percentage is likely to be higher. However, a lot of people still enjoy using both pot and alcohol, and if you overindulge in alcohol, marijuana could prove a lifesaver in the morning after when you’re nursing a brutal hangover.
Before we go into further detail about what marijuana can do for your hangover, 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.
Weed Relieves Nausea
If you’ve ever suffered from a hangover, you’ll bitterly recall the vicious nauseous feeling you had where the sight of food would probably make you throw up. Add in dizziness, a splitting headache, and light sensitivity, and it is a cocktail of misery after – get ready for the irony – the previous night’s delicious cocktails! Fortunately for you, marijuana can come to your rescue.
There is a myriad of studies (see below for specific references) which show the capacity for THC to reduce nausea and vomiting. A study by Parker, Rock, and Limebeer, published in 2011, for example, found that the psychoactive cannabinoid – along with its non-intoxicating counterpart, CBD – helped alleviate nausea and vomiting. In fact, cannabis is likely to be more effective than over-the-counter remedies which have limited efficacy.
Marijuana Stimulates Appetite
The nausea you feel ensures that eating or drinking are the last things you want to do, but the longer you steer clear of food, the worse things will get. It is important to note that the age-old remedy of a greasy fry-up is no better than healthier alternatives such as eggs, pickles and avocado. Rather, you are better off eating the greasy 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, which clears your liver of acetaldehyde – the toxin that causes hangovers. Also, avocados are an excellent source of potassium while the fructose in mangos replenishes your glucose levels, helping the body purge itself of the alcohol overload.
As you know, the THC in marijuana helps cause the phenomenon called ‘the munchies,’ where you suddenly crave food. Marijuana has proved successful in treating appetite loss in cancer patients recovering from chemotherapy, and it can stimulate your appetite too. A 2015 study by Koch et al., for instance, discovered that certain neurons at the base of your brain increase appetite when activated by THC.
While smoking weed won’t do anything for your dehydration directly, 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 is normally 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 is VERY painful. In some cases, you’ll do your best to close the curtains and lie in bed all day because moving around is painful, as is sensitivity to light. If you’ve made the mistake of drinking too much the night before work, though, or else you’re a parent that has to take care of kids, lounging around in bed is not an option.
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 weed. Moreover, 85% of users found that weed reduced their headache frequency, and inhalation led to the fastest relief.
Marijuana Helps You Sleep or Wake Up
If you’re hungover, it’s likely that you were out drinking until the early hours of the morning. As such, part of your symptoms will be 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 but it won’t be as restful or rejuvenating as sleep when you haven’t drunk booze.
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, and since alcohol acts as a diuretic, trying to sleep when hungover will be problematic as you’ll need to rush to the bathroom every ten minutes.
When you smoke the right weed strain, though, you’ll drift effortlessly to sleep and hopefully wake up feeling better. If you have somewhere to be, 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 could take time to determine which combination works for you. For example, vaping your weed seems a good idea because you don’t have to get out of bed, it is 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 ratio 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, while 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 clearly illustrates that weed is capable of combating most of the horrible effects of excessive alcohol consumption. It stimulates appetite, relieves nausea and vomiting, helps you sleep, (and/or gives you energy, and reduces the severity of your headache. If nothing else, cannabis can make the symptoms of your hangover feel more tolerable. While it isn’t a silver bullet that’ll make the vicious symptoms disappear into the night (or morning), it is very likely to make you feel worlds better.
Also, please remember that alcohol is effectively a poison that was never intended for human consumption – when you drink too much of it, bad things are inevitable. So it is ironic that marijuana, which helps alleviate the negative symptoms of alcohol, is the only one of the two substances that is illegal. We all know that the experiment known as Prohibition was a failure, as it lasted only 14 years. With that in mind, perhaps it is time to remove marijuana for good from its federally illegal status.