Following the freight-train of festivities that make up the holiday season, and until the last hour when we tip ecstatically into the New Year, it’s easy to feel like our bodies are literally made of gingerbread, champagne, and smoke.
If you’ve enjoyed a blazing holiday season and want to hit the ‘refresh’ button on your body by abstaining from your beloved herb for a time, then Solstice would like to offer you a little non-professional guidance for a New Year’s Cannabis Cleanse
THC In Your Body
When you consume pot, Tetrahydrocannabinolor (THC), the main psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant, is metabolized through the liver into the non-psychoactive THC Carboxlyic Acid, or THC-COOH. This is a lipid soluble metabolite detectable in the body long after the effects of THC have worn off.
This means that THC-COOH is stored in your fat cells. Before it can find its way out of the body, it needs to be released into the blood stream. The ‘half-life’ of the metabolite, or the amount of time it takes to rid the body of all traces of THC-COOH, depends on a few variables: the quantity and potency of the cannabis you consume, how frequently you partake, and the rate of your metabolism.
Infrequent consumers (1-2 times per month) may be able to eliminate all traces of THC from their system in 10-13 days. Heavy users, (4 – 7 times per week) have a higher baseline of the metabolite in their cells, which may require 30-90 days to be totally released.
The Quickie Cleanse
There are plenty of quick-detox products on the market you can start 1-10 days prior to a drug test that will likely get you a ‘pass.’ Most of them mask the THC in your body with flushing or diuretic herbs or synthetic supplements, and encourage you to drink a lot of water and Gatorade.
The thing to note, however, is that rapid cleanse products will not actually rid your body of THC. In fact, in the last days leading up to the test, some, uh, experts, would advise you to refrain from practices like sweaty workout sessions or consuming high-fiber foods that would otherwise be good for a cannabis detox.
The reason? Not exercising will signal your body to store your THC-laced chub in your fat cells instead of releasing the metabolites into the kidneys – and then into your urine. A fatty, meaty diet spikes your creatine levels, which will darken your urine and thus allow it to not appear to be so dilute.
Crystal-clear pee can result in an automatic fail or a request that you repeat the test. (This happened to me, and I have to say: The only thing worse than doing a drug test is going back for the re-do.) You can also try taking a few Vitamin B tablets, as they will give your pee a near-fluorescent yellow glow.
For those looking for a more gentle and gradual process, you will find that some elements of a cannabis cleanse lasting 30-90 days might dovetail nicely with your New Year’s health regimen. To really get THC out of your body you need time and some good habits. But there are a few things you can do to expedite the process. Here are the basics:
Get Clear On Why
Write down why you’ve chosen to do a detox. Be specific. What results are you hoping for? Staying connected to the original purpose of the cleanse when your resolve weakens will boost your chances of success.
Find a Detox Buddy
Create an accountability posse: Tell the people you trust to support you what you’re doing and why. Enlist the aid of a cannabis-friendly counselor or other health care professional if necessary.
Stop Consuming Cannabis
In all forms: Concentrates, topicals, edibles or flower. It should be noted that while few consider marijuana to be an addictive drug, some people do experience withdrawal symptoms.
Laboratory studies and surveys reported that after stopping their consumption of cannabis, more frequent users felt irritable, angry, or depressed and had difficulty sleeping. Headaches, muscle tension, night sweats, trembling and weird smells might also be part of the fun. Symptoms appear within 24 hours of quitting, peak at the 2-4 day mark, and generally stop after 1-2 weeks.
So before you start your cleanse it might be good to stock up on natural remedies for nervous tension like Theanine, Gaba, and Magnesium and herbal sleep aids like Valerian, Hops, or Melatonin.
As we mentioned, THC-COOH is stored in your adipose tissue. So the more you exercise and burn fat, the faster your body will move the metabolites into your bloodstream and out of your system.
Exercise is also an excellent habit ‘replacer.’ As Dr. Richard Moss says, “Energy, if unused, becomes morbid.” When people detox in any area of their lives, they often find they have significantly more energy – but don’t know what to do with it. Moderate exercise, or initiating a hobby or project can give you a place to channel and release new energy.
Hydrate Like Hell
You know this, right? THC is released from the body through sweat and urine, so the more water you drink, the more you will be able to flush out any toxins through your kidneys and organs of elimination. The alkalinity of fresh vegetable juices – including wheatgrass shots – will help to neutralize and absorb THC-COOH.
If you need more flavor in your fluids or want to supercharge their cleansing effects, try steeping sliced cucumber and ginger in a jug of water, or make a concoction of lemon juice, cinnamon and hot water in the morning.
Eat Like You Know You Should
Fruits. Veggies. Whole Grains. Lean Protein. Low or no sugar, including alcohol, or white flour. You know the drill. Sugar creates great peaks and valleys in your energy, causes inflammation, and highly processed food takes a tremendous amount of energy to digest – energy we need for detoxing the body. High fiber, high water-content foods like watercress, cucumber, broccoli, beets, etc., help in the elimination process – and you can eat more of them without gaining weight.
Clear the Congestion
Some, but not all, frequent smokers of cannabis experience an excess of mucus or phlegm in their sinuses, and their voices might have even acquired a little ‘smoker’s croak.’ In the first few days of a cleanse your sinuses will naturally start to drain. Drinking lots of sugar-free fluids is always beneficial, and to help the process, you can use a neti pot, or try this recipe for Tomato Tea.
Bentonite Clay mixed with a little water and eaten as a paste is an excellent way to remove toxins, and is especially useful in absorbing THC metabolites. Bentonite is composed of both negatively and positively charged platelets that once hydrated tend to suck up toxins and hold them until they can be eliminated.
Niacin, or Vitamin B3, triggers the production of histamines and causes blood capillaries to dilate, which then allows more toxins to be eliminated. You might have experienced the rosy ‘skin flush’ associated with taking higher doses of niacin. Usually enlisted for fast detox processes before a drug test, niacin in its ‘flush-free’ form can also be taken in smaller amounts as part of your daily detox routine. Try taking a tablet just before a hard work out and let the sweat pour.
Be gentle with yourself.
If you’re experiencing some discomfort, or find yourself fantasizing about the next time you’ll get to smoke, or that you are ultra-sensitive to the smell of cannabis, don’t punish yourself. After all, most of us want to cry or punch someone if lunch is 20 minutes late. If cannabis has been a regular or daily part of your life for a while and you suddenly take it away, some negative emotions are bound to arise, and they’re completely valid. Just take a breath and reconnect with your reason for doing the cleanse in the first place.
A disclaimer: If you are experiencing serious physical or psychological discomfort or dependency issues, please consult with a doctor. This post should not be used as a substitute for serious medical advice.