You’ve decided that it’s time to take a break from weed. Whether the reason is an upcoming drug test, high tolerance, or a lifestyle change, there are things you can do to make the detox process more efficient and comfortable.
Research Supported Ways to Get Weed Out of Your System
Many products claim to expedite the removal of THC from the body, but there is very little research supporting those claims. The body does a good job of removing toxins on its own. Here are ways you can help facilitate the process.
Method #1: Abstain from cannabis
A 2008 Journal of Analytical Toxicology study by Robert S. Goodwin, William D. Darwin, C. Nora Chiang, Ming Shih, Shou-Hua Li, and Marilyn Huestis found that THC can take up to 30 days to be completely removed from the body. THC is absorbed into the bloodstream and then stored in adipose tissue until it is eventually removed from the body through the kidneys and bladder.
THC levels during this 30-day period can increase and decrease as THC moves between the bloodstream and fatty tissue. This means that consuming any cannabis during the detox period will significantly lengthen the amount of time it takes for the body to completely remove THC.
If you want to flush weed from your system entirely, do not consume it for at least a month.
Method #2: Eat foods low in sodium, fat, and sugar
Goodwin et al. also found that BMI is significantly correlated with how quickly THC is released back into the bloodstream for elimination through the kidneys. While crash dieting is neither healthy nor helpful in removing THC from the body, eating nourishing foods can help reduce body fat over the long term, and this will make it easier for the body to eliminate THC at a quicker rate.
Additionally, foods that are high in sodium, fat, and sugar increase water retention and slow metabolism. Both of these factors will directly slow down the body’s ability to eliminate THC—THC is eliminated from the body through urine, a by-product of metabolism.
Method #3: Exercise
Although a 2014 Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology study by Andreas Westin, George Mjønes, Ola Burchardt, Ole Martin Fuskevâg, and Lars Slørdal found that exercise is not likely to alter the results of a drug test, it did reveal the effect exercise has on the movement of THC.
There was a modest increase of THC levels in blood plasma following exercise, suggesting that exercise can slightly affect the removal of THC from fatty tissue.
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine will not cause a great change in the concentration of THC in your body overnight, but it may aid in the long-term process of THC elimination from the body.
Method #4: Drink Water
Water aids in many of the body’s natural detoxification processes. Staying hydrated is like keeping your body’s elimination machine well-oiled. Given that a high quantity of THC is eliminated from the body through urine, it is important that you drink plenty of water.
Make sure that you are taking care of yourself during this detox period, especially if you are a frequent or medicinal cannabis user. The lack of cannabis consumption may lead to increased pain, depression, and anxiety.
Incorporate self-care into your daily routine to temper the effects of any discomfort. Including meditation, exercise, adequate sleep, and/or a nutritious diet are some ways that you can protect your mental health while flushing cannabis from your body.
Myths About Cannabis Detox
Bad—even dangerous—advice for flushing cannabis out of the system abounds. Methods that are not supported by research include:
Myth #1: Bleach
Ingesting bleach is very dangerous and can damage your organs enough to cause permanent harm or death.
Myth #2: Cranberry juice
Drinking cranberry juice isn’t a harmful strategy, but there is no evidence supporting its efficacy in eliminating THC from the bloodstream.
Myth #3: Detox Teas
As with cranberry juice, there is no research supporting their efficacy. However, they may taste unpleasant and cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
Myth #4: Apple cider vinegar
While drinking small amounts of apple cider vinegar is relatively safe, there is no evidence that it aids the body’s natural elimination processes. However, it may erode tooth enamel and cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
Side Effects of a Cannabis Detox
The efficacy of weed detox depends on the person’s prior cannabis use. Chronic users will likely need more time to completely remove THC from their bodies.
They are also more likely to experience symptoms including the following:
- Reduced appetite
These symptoms may be the body’s response to suddenly being deprived of cannabinoids. In this case, they can be called withdrawal symptoms. However, they may also be the re-emergence of symptoms cannabis was treating. For example, a patient using cannabis to treat chronic pain will likely experience an increase in pain during detox.
Novice or infrequent cannabis users are less likely to experience these symptoms. Additionally, cannabinoids are more likely to be eliminated from their bodies more quickly than chronic users.
How Long Does THC Stay in Your System?
Unlike alcohol, THC can linger in the body for quite a while. THC can be detected in the urine of daily cannabis smokers for 30 days or longer after their last cannabis consumption.
Cannabis users who only consume occasionally—once a week or less—might have THC-free urine a week after their last consumption.
THC is lipophilic, which literally means that it loves (“philic”) fat (“lipo”). The cannabinoid quickly moves from the bloodstream to fatty tissue. It can stay in adipose tissue quite comfortably until it is eventually broken down by THC-COOH, a THC metabolite that assists the body in eliminating THC.
This means that body fat composition plays an important role in how long THC stays in the body. Elevated levels of body fat give THC more storage space.
This is why it is important to remember that there is no universal rule for removing THC from the body. It largely depends on body fat composition and frequency of cannabis use.