Why Does Marijuana Make You Dizzy?

Let's dive into the science behind the plant


Seasoned cannabis smokers will be all too aware that marijuana can make you dizzy. Those who are new to smoking will be especially prone to dizziness as it is often a result of overindulgence.

You’ll probably have heard that weed has very few adverse side effects. Most of the side effects that occur alongside a high are short-term things that can be easily managed. This is excellent news, but it means you should prepare yourself for side effects that might occur.

Before lighting up today, check out this article on marijuana and dizziness to find out why you can feel dizzy after smoking, and how best to avoid it.

The Relationship Between Marijuana and Dizziness

It is actually really common to feel dizzy after using marijuana. A study from 1992 found that up to 60% of participants experienced moderate to severe dizziness as a result of marijuana use. Admittedly, there are only 10 participants, which made this a small study.

The researchers ensured that the ten men in the study had not used cannabis for at least three months. The men had their blood pressure, heart rate, and cerebral blood flow measured in both a reclining and standing position before engaging in the test. Then, they smoked either a high-potency joint or a placebo before having the tests repeated again. This took place on two laboratory visits. Six of the participants reported feeling moderately to severely dizzy after smoking the joint.

Those who reported feeling dizzy also had a reduced cerebral blood flow. The men who noted feeling severely dizzy also had a drop in blood pressure after smoking the joint. Interestingly, the dizziness was not caused by using the placebo joint.

This study shows that blood pressure and cerebral blood flow are the main factors that contribute to feeling dizzy, and both of these things can be affected by high-potency marijuana. Things like standing up too fast generally trigger the changes in blood pressure and circulation. Sometimes, doing so can cause an abnormal drop in blood pressure, also known as postural hypotension.

What Is Postural Hypotension? Why Is It Relevant?

Have you ever felt dizzy and seen spots when you stand up too fast? That’s similar to postural hypotension.

As you stand, gravity pulls blood downwards from the chest into the blood vessels below the diaphragm. This shift causes a rapid drop in blood pressure because there is suddenly less blood returning to and filling your heart.

Whenever there is a change in blood pressure like this, a receptor called the baroreceptor is triggered. These detect changes and initiate responses that allow the body to fix it. When blood pressure decreases, baroreceptors trigger an increase in heart rate, which constricts the blood vessels, causing more resistance in the veins. This returns the blood pressure to normal. The process is known as baroreflex, and it is vital in maintaining healthy circulation.

Some people, particularly older people, have a condition known as postural hypotension. In these cases, the blood pressure drops abnormally low when standing up. The condition is also known as orthostatic hypotension. This condition can be caused by a failure of the baroreflex system, organ dysfunction, certain medications, and dehydration.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it can also be triggered by marijuana. Postural hypotension occurs because your blood pressure can’t stabilize when you stand, triggering a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Fainting

All this happens because blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain are reduced. Some people will also experience tremors as their body desperately tries to correct itself.

Postural hypotension sounds scary, but it’s usually nothing to worry about. The human body is well-evolved to deal with these things and will eventually correct itself. If you’re anxious, then try to avoid overindulging in marijuana, and don’t mix it with alcohol either.

Now, let’s find out exactly how cannabis is causing these drops in blood pressure.

Marijuana and Blood Pressure

The body regulates blood pressure in many different ways. Baroreflex is just one of these mechanisms. There are also hormones secreted by the kidneys which play a role in the maintenance of blood pressure and heart rate. Some scientists now believe that the endocannabinoid system could be playing a role in blood pressure.

study from 2005, published in Neuropharmacology, found that endocannabinoids have a complex role to play in maintaining blood pressure. The study was conducted on in vivo subjects, and researchers believe that the results suggest endocannabinoid research could be a key to treating high blood pressure.

The endocannabinoid system works through a network of receptors, namely CB1 and CB2 receptors. When the body detects changes, it creates endocannabinoids which pass messages by binding with the receptors. This process triggers various processes around the body.

One of the best-studied endocannabinoids, anandamide, has been observed to have a vasodilation effect. In other words, it expands the blood vessels in order to decrease blood pressure. Anandamide actually works similarly to THC, meaning that THC can also cause these effects.

THC has a particular affinity for the CB1 receptors, as does anandamide. When it binds with these receptors, it can cause similar effects to the endocannabinoid, and this includes a decrease in blood pressure.

According to research, users can develop a tolerance for marijuana use. This is why new users are more likely to experience dizziness compared to seasoned smokers who use cannabis often.

What to Do if Marijuana Makes You Dizzy

Dizziness is not really anything to worry about. It should subside fairly quickly and doesn’t have long-term consequences. However, it can be unpleasant and disorientating. If you often experience dizziness during smoking, then there are some things you can do.

Be Careful with Your Dose

You are more likely to experience dizziness if you are new to smoking, only smoke occasionally, or have a low tolerance to THC. It’s much more likely to happen if you don’t know your limits and overindulge on pot.

If you have never consumed cannabis before, make sure you are somewhere safe, preferably with a more experienced friend. Go low and slow, taking one or two small puffs at first before building up. If you decide to go for edibles, be even more careful. Weed brownies and other edibles can take hours to kick in, driving you to eat another because you think it’s not working. Before long, the high will hit you like a train, and you might green out!

Trust us; it’s better to go slow and steady.

Stand up Slowly

Dizziness can be caused by standing up too fast, whether you have consumed cannabis or not. So, take your time getting up from your chair. You can also try stretching your arms a little before standing to get your blood flowing nicely.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is a common cause of dizziness, and also a common side effect of smoking weed. If you have used pot before, you’ll know it causes cottonmouth! Plus, not having enough water in the blood means not enough volume, causing issues for your blood pressure.

Try to drink two liters of water each day as a rule of thumb. When consuming cannabis, you might want to up this even more! Make sure to stay hydrated before, during, and after your session.

Keep Your Blood Sugar up

Blood sugar is another factor that can influence blood pressure. For this reason, it can be a good idea to keep some sugary snacks to hand for when you are high. Salty snacks, like chips, can also increase blood pressure. You can try combining the two if you like – sweet and salted popcorn, anyone?!

It might be necessary to keep your snacks to hand before you start toking. If you’re hit with a case of couch lock, you’re not going to want to whip something up in the kitchen.

Stay Calm

Sometimes, feeling dizzy and disorientated and troubling. That’s why we recommend having a trusted friend nearby who can help you out. No matter what happens, don’t panic!

If you feel dizzy, then sit down and take a few deep breaths. When you feel up to it, stand up again more slowly. Have a few careful sips of water, and you should be fine. If needs be, you can use a wall or stable furniture to support yourself as you stand.

Use a Different Strain

Different cannabis strains have different cannabinoids within them. THC is the most likely culprit for causing dizziness. So, if you often find yourself dizzy after smoking a particular strain, check its THC content. You might be best switching to a strain with a higher CBD content instead. The high won’t be as intense, but neither will the dizziness!

Final Thoughts on Marijuana and Dizziness

Most side effects of marijuana are not severe. Users can often indulge in weed without experiencing anything negative, as long as they are careful. However, new users and those who don’t know their limits can sometimes go overboard, resulting in things like dizziness.

Luckily, there are things you can do to combat marijuana-induced dizziness. Follow our above tips, and you should be absolutely fine. Did we miss anything? Let us know your top tips for avoiding dizziness in the comments below.

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