Article by Lin Shen, Cannabis Life Network
Weed not only has many therapeutic and medicinal purposes, but it is also one of the safest recreational drugs to use. However, as with basically anything, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing. When weed is over-consumed, there is a chance that some users may experience what stoners call “greening out” which consists of adverse side effects such as dizziness, anxiety, nausea, sweating, as well as an increased heart rate and reduced blood pressure.
What is greening out?
Have you ever started feeling bad after smoking a lot of weed? Those uncomfortable feelings of dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and sometimes even vomiting are all symptoms of greening out. Although you can’t physically overdose and die from consuming cannabis like you can from other drugs such as heroin or cocaine or even alcohol, you could get a bad experience of greening out if you consume too much cannabis. Apart from feeling sick, there isn’t much immediate or direct harm to your body when you green out. However, if you have preexisting health conditions or if you are also consuming other substances with the weed then consuming too much cannabis could potentially have serious consequences.
What causes you to green out?
Since everyone’s bodies react to cannabis differently, it’s not yet known why exactly some people green out while others don’t. However, it is known that the psychoactive compound, THC, is what makes you feel sick when you do green out. THC molecules act on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain; these receptors are naturally activated (to a lesser degree) by the neurotransmitter anandamide which affects pain, memory, mood, and appetite. However, when these receptors are excessively activated by consuming a large amount of THC, it could potentially make you feel sick. The side effects of nausea, anxiety, and other discomforts are dose-related; the higher the dose, the more intense the side effects.
Pesticides, fertilizers, and mold may also contribute to greening out, however, there are also people who green out from just smoking organic weed as well. Thus, greening out tends to happen to people who aren’t used to getting high or those who consume a much larger amount than they normally do.
Greening out in relation to blood sugar levels
Cannabis actually has antiemetic effects that control nausea and makes it more difficult for your body to vomit. However, as mentioned above, you feel nauseous and may even throw up when you green out. Sounds pretty counterintuitive right?
A possible explanation for getting nauseous after smoking weed is due to your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels are not in the target range, you will experience all sorts of negative symptoms. If your blood sugar is too low, you can feel light-headed, nauseous, shaky, anxious, sweaty, and other symptoms which are all very similar to those of greening out. Many studies have shown that cannabis affects blood sugar levels by regulating insulin activity. Consuming THC has shown to decrease insulin resistance, allowing your body to break down glucose more efficiently.
So, if you already have a low blood sugar level from not eating recently then smoking weed could make your blood sugar levels even lower, causing the symptoms of greening out. Next time you start feeling like you’re going to green out, try eating some sugary foods or simple carbs to restore your blood sugar to a normal level.
Mixing weed with alcohol
Weed and alcohol are often consumed together, and they are a great pair– if you can find the right balance. It is much more likely for you to green out if you are also drinking alcohol with weed. The research found that you absorb THC faster when you have alcohol in your blood; even if you smoke what you think is a normal amount, you will feel stronger effects because your body is absorbing the THC more quickly. Also, since alcohol and weed both have sedative effects, it could drastically slow your central nervous system down including your heart rate and breathing.
As I mentioned earlier, cannabis has an antiemetic effect, making it harder for you to throw up. Our bodies make us throw up to prevent itself from getting poisoned– eg. puking out the alcohol so you don’t get alcohol poisoning. However, if you drank a lot then smoked weed, you might not be able to vomit properly, putting you at risk of choking on your puke or getting alcohol poisoning.
If you’re gonna do it, do it right
But don’t worry! This doesn’t mean you can’t pair alcohol with weed at all. You just have to do it the right way. You can forget everything else but remember this. Grass before beer and you’re in the clear; beer before grass and you’ll be on your ass. Smoking weed can intensify the feeling of drunkenness. If normally you feel drunk after 5 shots, you may only need 2-3 to feel just as drunk if you also smoked weed. This is why you should smoke before you drink so you can gage how much alcohol to drink.
Personally, I find that I only need half the amount of drinks I normally do to get the same effects if I smoked weed beforehand. Smoking before you drink is not only better for your liver since you don’t have to drink as much to feel just as wavy, and it is also a good way to budget because you’ll be spending less money on expensive bar drinks.
Dangers to greening out
No one has ever died from cannabis toxicity directly. A human would need to ingest approximately 40,000 times the amount required to get high in order to die from cannabis; but that is physically close to impossible. However, you could die indirectly from over-sedation which could suppress your breathing if you also took other depressive drugs, or from an underlying heart condition that could get aggravated from the weed.
How to deal with greening out
Eat and drink
Make sure you eat something and stay hydrated when you’re seshing to prevent greening out in the first place. If you start feeling symptoms of greening out, try drinking some juice to hydrate and restore your blood sugar levels. Check out some of these healthy food options to munch on that can enhance your high.
If you want to consume both alcohol and weed, smoke first. Smoking weed can intensify the effects of alcohol so you’ll likely need a lot less alcohol than usual to get the same effects. That way you can consume less of both substances to feel the same or even more lightness.