Even the most seasoned cannabis enthusiast has a story about that time they overdid it and scrambled to figure out how to sober up from weed. Though marijuana has many potential therapeutic uses — including reducing anxiety — any consumer can make the mistake of using too much and landing themselves in a paranoid tailspin.
The good news is there are no known reports of anyone experiencing a fatal marijuana overdose. So, even though you may feel like you're going to die like Maureen Dowd or that one cop who called the cops on himself, you will most certainly survive to live another day.
The ever-innovative cannabis community has discovered some valuable tips for coming down from an intense marijuana high. If you find yourself too high on flower, edibles, or concentrates, try these quick and easy tips to help you mellow out.
Chew on some black peppercorn
That's right. The same kitchen ingredient used to spice up your food can also tone down your high. Black peppercorn has demonstrated the ability to provide near-instant relief for those overcome by cannabis-induced paranoia or anxiety. Chew a few whole black peppercorns, grind peppercorns on food, or smell some ground black pepper very carefully.
If you're wondering why pepper helps, it all has to do with terpenes. A 2011 review published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that cannabis and black pepper have related chemical traits. Author Dr. Ethan Russo, a neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, wrote that terpenes such as beta-caryophyllene found in peppercorn can help “tame the intoxicating effects of THC.” Beta-caryophyllene and THC form a synergistic relationship and bind to the same cannabinoid receptors. So the beta-caryophyllene effectively blocks the receptor and prevents THC from latching on, reducing the cannabinoid's effects.
Add some CBD to the mix
Decades of research have shown that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, can reduce THC-induced anxiety and paranoia. In a 1982 study published in Psychopharmacology, researchers examined whether CBD could reduce THC-induced anxiety. The study concluded that CBD “might be involved in the antagonism of effects between the two cannabinoids.” A more recent 2013 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology also found that when CBD was consumed alongside THC, it appeared to lessen the adverse effects of anxiety and paranoia. Like beta-caryophyllene, CBD may bind to the same receptor as THC and block its effects.
More research is needed to affirm the synergistic effects of CBD and THC, but taking some CBD oil or smoking hemp flower may help balance the intoxicating effects of THC and mellow out your high. Selecting high-CBD strains or products with a balance of CBD and THC may also help you avoid getting too high in the first place.
Stay hydrated and eat a snack
Drinking water is good for your health and good for your overly stoned self because staying hydrated may help you calm down after consuming a bit too much herb. A glass of water will help douse cottonmouth and force you to focus on the simple process of sipping and swallowing — a nifty trick if your thoughts are spinning.
If you find yourself feeling light-headed, some people also find relief from eating a snack and drinking orange juice or other fruit juices. However, be cautious about what kind of juice or drink flavor you choose, because mangoes contain the terpenoid myrcene, which has been shown to enhance and prolong the effects of THC.
Take some ibuprofen
A number of common anti-inflammatory drugs, such as the widely used ibuprofen, have been shown to tame marijuana's buzz. Sobering up by taking some ibuprofen can be an effective, over-the-counter solution. In a 2013 animal study conducted by researchers from Louisiana State University's School of Medicine, the team found that certain types of anti-inflammatory medication appeared to counteract the stoned effect of cannabis and reduce negative effects on cognition.
Squeeze a lemon
Terpenes are the aromatic oils that give each cannabis plant its own distinct smell, flavor, and effects. The same way that CBD and THC combine to create an “entourage effect,” the variety of terpenes found in weed and other plants seem to have a synergistic relationship with other cannabis compounds. The citrusy terpene limonene, which is found in the rinds of citrus fruits and certain strains of cannabis, has demonstrated the ability to reduce anxiety. A 2012 study published in Brain Research found that limonene produced anxiety-reducing or “anxiolytic-like” effects, which could translate into a treatment for cannabis-induced anxiety.
If you have a lemon on hand, try giving it a squeeze to release its scent. Then inhale the good vibes.
Take a deep breath and get comfortable
Sometimes all you need to evaporate a bad weed high is a meditative approach in a comfortable (and, if possible, familiar) setting. If you feel like your heart is racing or an anxiety attack might be coming on, lie down and take several slow, deep breaths. Reminding yourself that everything is going to be fine can go a long way as well.
Phone a friend
Sometimes you can't convince yourself that everything is going to be fine — even in sober circumstances. That's when it's a good idea to call a friend and let them do the talking. You can also feel good knowing that stoned people are highly entertaining.
Seek distractions, but easy ones
Go for a walk around the block, put on your favorite music or television show, crack open a coloring book, observe some wind chimes — anything that will help distract you from the sudden bout of cannabis-induced anxiety. By shifting your attention from how high you are to an enjoyable activity, you'll be able to ground yourself in the present and let the time pass more comfortably.
Take a shower or bath
The soothing sensation of water on your body can turn a bad high into a good one. Think of it as a form of mental hydration, a hygienic way to wash away the ills of too much THC. Even splashing cold water onto your face can help make you feel calm, decrease your heart rate, and ease your mind.
Once you've come back to earth, make note of what and how much you consumed, so next time you'll be better equipped to practice moderation.