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Does Cannabis Really Help with Hangovers?

cannabisIf you drink often enough to deal with hangovers, you’ve probably heard all sorts of tips on how to get rid of them. Often, from raw eggs to drinking more in the morning, those cures range from the gross to the outright dangerous. While it’s true that taking an ibuprofen in the morning will help with your headache, very few “hangover cures” are actually cures. Instead, you get, at best, a short-term solution with painkillers.

That’s also true with cannabis, which is touted as a way to help hangovers. You’ll see people all over Reddit claiming to cure hangovers with weed – and that unfortunately often means self-medicating with another drug while you should likely be at work and sober.

Of course, there are truths behind the concept that cannabis can help with hangovers. We’ll look at those, as well as what’s really going on, and give you the information you need to make the healthy decision.

First, What Causes a Hangover?

Most people are aware that a hangover is a result of drinking too much alcohol. But, you can get a hangover from any kind of drug abuse. In fact, hangovers are a combination of dehydration and congeners, or built-up chemicals left over from metabolizing drugs and alcohol. These alcohol byproducts stick around, sometimes for as long as two days, leading to fatigue, headache, light and sound sensitivity, and sometimes even nausea. And, the more you drink the worse they get.

What else? Alcohol and many other drugs are inflammatory, which means they cause inflammation across the body which can lead to muscle and joint pain and fatigue.

Finally, as a diuretic, drinking a lot of alcohol can mean you’re short on liquids and electrolytes.

That’s a lot to go wrong for a single night out.

Where does Cannabis Come In?

Cannabis isn’t completely useless at helping with hangovers. In fact, cannabis has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory drug – much like paracetamol, although it’s less good at being an anti-inflammatory than paracetamol or ibuprofen. However, this result is entirely linked to CBD and CBG and not to THC. This means that if you smoke a joint, you’re primarily taking in something that does not actively help with your hangover. What’s more, the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis are comparable to those of garlic, meaning you could just eat a lot of garlic, or take an Aspirin.

What’s worse, is that cannabis can actually cause a hangover. If you take in enough THC< you’ll experience hangover effects. That normally means hangover, cotton mouth, and delays in functioning.

However, Cannabis can also help with nausea. In one study, THC was actually shown to have greater nausea reducing effects than CBD. 96.4% of users smoking joints reported reductions in nausea. This means that many people use cannabis to try to reduce or get rid of nausea after a hangover.

What else? Cannabis is a muscle relaxant, which means it can help you go back to sleep. That’s one of the reasons it’s not safe to use if you’re driving or going to work. However, it can help patients to relax and to go back to sleep, which can “help” with a hangover.

Finally, a lot of people get downright cranky when they have a hangover. If you want to improve  your mood, there’s nothing like drugging yourself to get that result. Cannabis is calming and soothing, meaning that crankiness and irritability can disappear, making you much more tolerable to be around for your family, friends, and coworkers. It’s not a cure, and you’ll probably feel worse when it wears off, but it will prevent you from snapping at people.

Cannabis can also help with hangover in some unexpected ways. For example, if you have a variety that causes the munchies, it can encourage you to actually eat food, which will generally just help with the nausea. Once you get something in your stomach, the rest of the symptoms seem much less pressing, and cannabis can help you do that.

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Does Cannabis Cure Hangover?

man with hangoverCannabis can temporarily relieve head pain and muscle pain by relieving inflammation. However, cannabis only tackles one of the causes of a hangover.

Hangovers are caused by:

  • Inflammation
  • Dehydration
  • Chemical buildup
  • Electrolyte imbalance

So, can you drink a Gatorade with your joint and be fine? Yes and no. Once you’re suffering from a hangover, taking steps to restore hydration and electrolyte levels are important for feeling better more quickly. You can also use anti-inflammatories to reduce head pain and improve focus if you’re struggling.

However, in most cases, unless you’re staying home, it’s not recommended to use something intoxicating, like weed. Instead, over the counter anti-inflammatories are cheap, safe, and effective.

Some people refer to cannabis as helping the headache, killing the nausea, and putting them back to sleep. Unfortunately, that might be effective on a case-by-case basis, but mixing cannabis with alcohol can cause worsening nausea in many users.

What Helps with a Hangover?

The best cure for a hangover is prevention. That means:

  • Eating before you start drinking
  • Drinking plenty of water alongside alcohol. A glass of water per 2 beers is a good rule of thumb.
  • Managing your alcohol intake

If it’s too late for that and you’re already suffering from a hangover while you read this article, try some pain relief options:

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, like an aspirin or two
  • Drink a sports drink, like Gatorade, to rehydrate and rebalance electrolytes
  • Go for a walk and engage in light activity to help your body speed up metabolization
  • Eat something. Even if you start with fries or leftovers, getting food in your stomach will help with nausea.
  • If you have nausea, Pepto Bismal or a similar product can help a lot

If you don’t have to go to work, consider going back to sleep and sleeping it off, after you drink some water. If you do have to go to work, don’t forget your sunglasses, extra painkillers, and maybe an apology to your coworkers.

Eventually, if you’re drinking to the point of needing a hangover cure on the regular, chances are, you should be cutting down on alcohol consumption. There’s nothing wrong with drinking to the point of having a hangover a few times a year. And, if that’s the case, you can try self-medicating with cannabis the morning after to see if it helps. It will mostly help you relax and go back to sleep and you’re probably better off with Aspirin. But, you can safely try it. Just make sure you’re not still drunk, because cannabis and alcohol can mix badly together. However, if it’s more than a few times a year and you’re looking into hangover management as a normal part of your life, you probably want to step back, talk to your doctor, and look into getting help with managing alcohol consumption. Looking into regular drug use is not the solution and cannabis will result in further headache and hangover, especially if you’re stacking it on top of alcohol use.

What’s the verdict? Cannabis can help your hangover symptoms in a variety of ways. At the same time, it’s not a cure. It’s also dangerous to smoke before work or driving a vehicle. And, you can often get the same or better results by drinking something, getting some food, and going for a walk.