10 things to try when your high goes wrong
While we at VdP believe in the benefits of cannabis, we’d be remiss to avoid talking about what happens when your trip doesn’t work out well. “Greening out” can happen to anyone, even if you consider yourself a regular consumer. The symptoms, which include paranoia and light-headedness, seems to creep out of nowhere, and leave you feeling helpless. But the good news is, you’re not.
Major culprits of a green-out include over-dosage (having an edible that’s too potent, for example) or consuming a strain that has compounds that don’t jive with your endocannabinoid system.
As a general rule, always mind your dose. Even if you consume cannabis daily, there are many things that could affect your experience. Remember to start low and go slow – you don’t have to finish a whole joint or bowl to feel the effects of cannabis; and consider 5-10 mg a good starting dose for edibles. Have a bite, wait 30 minutes to an hour, and see how you feel. You can always top yourself up to enjoy heightened effects; dialing back a high, on the other hand, isn’t impossible.
If you’ve got CBD on hand, start there; it can negate the effects of THC. If you don’t, or you’re in a pinch, here are some other ideas for evening yourself out.
Citrus + Hydration
The effects of this combo is not an old wive’s tale, but it goes way back to ancient times. In 10th century Persia, cannabis users would combine freshly squeezed lemon into water along with a few lemon peels. It was magic back then, but it is science today. Limonene is a terpene found in citrus and in certain cannabis strains; it works with cannabinoids to increase feelings of relaxation, and it relieves anxiety.
Note that the lemon peel is the most important part. There isn’t a ton of limonene present in the juice — that’s just for flavor, because the peel is bitter. Crack the peel and squeeze out the oils found inside.
This is curiously very effective to calm a high that’s soared a bit too far. Consuming a peppercorn can relieve an anxious wave of paranoia, and it’s all because of the chemical compounds. Caryophyllene is a terpene that promotes deep relaxation and pain relief; it partially binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the body, acting similarly to CBD.
THC and CBD are known to increase the effectiveness of drugs such as Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is a weak anxiolytic, meaning it reduces anxiety, and it also has the ability to decrease inflammation. Combine the two, and you get an effective way to alleviate green out stressors.
Fats (Omega-3, preferably)
Our bodies produce natural cannabinoids through the endocannabinoid system; endocannabinoids are produced on demand, unlike other signaling compounds in the body. Omega-3s are used to create endocannabinoids that bind to CB2 receptors, and CB1 receptors to less of an extent. However, the binding of CB1 receptors is one that turns them ‘off’, which means a spoon full of fish oil could help you calm down in a due time.
THCV or Alpha Lipoic Acid
THCV is what comes before THC, and is its ‘inactive’ form. This type of cannabinoid will not get you high, but it will still bind to CB1 receptors, which are responsible for the green out feels. By taking some THCV – which you can find at health food stores and some pharmacies – you’ll prevent further THC from binding to your brain. Alpha Lipoic Acid is a powerful antioxidant that mimics the effects of CBD, which will also help relax your body.
Bugs Bunny was pretty chill, wouldn’t you say? It’s no coincidence he was often seen with carrots in tow. This common household veg contains compounds that bind to both cannabinoid receptors, but have an interesting twist when it comes to CB1 receptors. They act as an inverse agonist, which means if THC causes anxiety and paranoia, carrots can help counteract these effects.
Coffee makes us feel good by releasing dopamine and increasing our energy levels, but it also decreases endocannabinoid levels. A way to level out a high before it creeps to spiking levels could some down to a cup of java. A word of caution: Refrain from doing this if you’ve got heart problems.
May we emphasize light exercise. A stroll outside can help regulate your breathing and bring ease to your current state. Be careful not to increase your heart rate by biking, running or any other activity that would cause you to break a sweat. This kind of exercise increases anandamide in the blood stream, which acts as THC’s best bud, increasing your high.
A warm shower can cure the cannabis shivers, and the regular fall of the water can help bring some rhythm back to your body. Greening out causes shaking and trembling, which warm water addresses instantly.
Use what you’ve learned through yoga, meditation, exercise, etc., to help expand your lungs outward slowly and control their descent. Bringing awareness to your breathing will distract your mind from whatever paranoia you’re experiencing and pull you back into the present – kind of like holding your breath if you have the hiccups. Deep breathing can also decrease your heart rate and release muscle tension.
Major themes to consider when soothing a green out is to build back rhythm, calm and clarity. Try these techniques if you’re ever feeling on edge after a session, but also take in consideration what has helped you overcome anxiety in the past. You are unique, and always know what’s best for you.
Story by Katarina Kostovic
Van der Pop does not endorse or condone the illegal consumption of cannabis.