Beyond street-level anecdotes, though, what does scientific research say about smoking dope to treat a hangover? Does it actually work? Is it any better than the myriad other dubious hangover cures out there?
Many of these problems can be addressed with drinking water and eating food, even when you feel sick. But Hutchison noted that there are three areas in which weed might be particularly helpful. There’s evidence that smoking cannabis can quell nausea and alleviate anxiety. As many smokers can attest, those effects may help you better cope with the day after a night of hard drinking—-it’s just that research hasn’t yet caught up with the folk remedies. Most of what we know about weed and hangovers comes from anecdotal evidence. “It’s true of so many questions around marijuana,” said Hutchison.
“There’s actually not a lot of study on this,” said Kent Hutchison, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He’s studied substance use and cannabis for years, including work on the National Academy of Sciences committee that produced a comprehensive study on the effects of cannabis.
Alcohol makes you urinate, which can lead to dehydration; produces an inflammatory response in your immune system; irritates the stomach lining, often provoking nausea or vomiting; lowers your blood sugar, which can make you feel fatigued or jittery; and expands your blood vessels, which can cause headaches.
There’s also a healthy debate over whether it’s better to smoke or take an edible, and theories about the right choice between sativa and indica, depending on your symptoms. Some warned of the dreaded crossfade that happens when you combine weed and alcohol (“If you are still drunk, don’t smoke”), while others wondered why anyone would drink at all when they could be smoking weed instead.
When it comes time to spark up (or however you get your weed), remember that you’re trying to treat your specific symptoms—choose your strain and method of delivery wisely. Burns noted that THC and CBD both seem to help with pain relief, while CBD helps more with anxiety. Indica strains have more CBD, so take that into account.
He also said there hasn’t been much study on hangovers in general, which makes the question doubly tricky to answer. But looking at how alcohol leads to a hangover, he said, can help us theorize how smoking weed might help.
Jack swears by smoking weed to treat a hangover. The first time he tried it was in college as a freshman. He’d been drunk before, and he’d been high before, but after one especially rough night, his world-wise roommate told him weed could blunt his aching hangover.
Hutchison pointed to another potentially helpful effect of weed: pain relief. Right now, there’s anecdotal evidence to suggest it can help with headache disorders, as well, but not enough clinical study to prove it, according to a 2017 review article in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
Cannabis can quell nausea, alleviate anxiety, and dull pain—so we looked at the evidence for it as a hangover cure.
Part of what makes nausea so miserable is that it often prevents you from being able to eat or drink without feeling the need to vomit. Well, as pretty much any stoner (and a number of researchers) can tell you, marijuana increases appetite. And many users claim that smoking pot the morning after binge drinking helps them stabilize their stomachs.
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There is no such thing as a hangover cure, but there are ways to treat the symptoms. First, drink a tall glass of water, of course. But before you reach for that bottle of Advil, consider cannabis.
Like over-the-counter painkillers, marijuana has anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate pain after a night of overindulgence. Unlike Advil, however, pot doesn’t carry the risk of damaging your stomach lining and it is significantly more effective at treating pain, as numerous studies have demonstrated.
Though studies that have looked at the effect of marijuana on nausea have focused on cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy, experts say there is no reason that the results would be limited to one form of nausea over another.
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One study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that “THC fits into receptors in the brain’s olfactory bulb, significantly increasing the animals’ ability to smell food and leading them to eat more of it,” Smithsonian Magazine reported.
Again, it is no cure. Smoking pot won’t make the excess ethanol in your bloodstream disappear. Still, there’s good reason to believe that it can help get you through the day. It’s certainly better than the “hair of the dog” approach, which involves drinking more alcohol and simply numbing yourself to the pain of a hangover. Let’s be clear: alcohol is toxic and marijuana is not.
“Different compounds in marijuana have different actions in the human body,” the NIC wrote on its website. “For example, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) seems to cause the ‘high’ reported by consumers of marijuana, and also can help relieve pain and nausea, reduce inflammation, and can act as an antioxidant.”
Here’s how marijuana affects alcohol hangovers.