With marijuana laws changing across the United States, millions of Americans are now getting access to legal recreational weed. While the inebriating effects from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana might fade away after a few hours, many of the compounds left over will stay in your body for much longer.
Maybe you’ve recently gotten a new job and now need to pass a drug test because you’re working for a federal agency, or you’re working in a new state, or the organization simply excludes you based on the drug test and now you need to detox, or maybe you simply have a desire to remove these compounds from your body. Regardless of the situation then you’ll need to flush out these compounds with a detox. But the question remains: are there efficient methods of removing THC and other toxins from your body? How long will it take before these compounds are all gone?
In this article, we’ll be examining both the truths and myths about THC detoxing, as well as strategies and methods to facilitate detoxing and drug testing.
How Is THC Detected
When you smoke, ingest, or otherwise consume marijuana, you’ll begin to feel it’s effects within seconds to hours, depending on the method of consumption; however, even once you feel sober and the effects of THC have already long gone, certain compounds remain within your body. A fingerprint of sorts is stored in your body. When you consume marijuana in any form, cannabinoids accumulate in your body and can be detected with a variety of methods, including but not limited to hair, nails, saliva, blood, and urine.
Compared to other drugs, marijuana compounds remain in your body for an absurdly long time—on the scale of weeks and months rather than days. This is because THC cannabinoids are stored within your body’s fat cells, which are then slowly released into your blood when the fat cells themselves are burned as a natural function of the human body. When the body slowly releases these compounds, then they can show up again on drug tests. How long exactly does THC stay within your body at a detectable level? That’s tough to determine and depends on a variety of factors including but not limited to:
– General constitution and lifestyle habits
– Frequency and length of consumption of Marijuana
– Exercise and stress levels
Types of Drug Tests
Adding additional confusion, the type of drug test also affects whether or not the number of cannabinoids is still detectable after a certain period of time. If the drug test is using your blood, then the test will likely show up negative after a week or so of abstinence. If the drug test is done through urine instead, then you’re looking at a month or more of abstaining before the test will come back negative, depending on your previous consumption level and other factors. If you are unlucky enough to be subject to a hair test, then it could easily be several months before the test will come back negative. This is because traces of cannabinoids stay permanently in your hair – in layman’s terms, this essentially means that you basically need to grow a new head of hair before you can pass the test!
Does Exercise Help?
Since we know fat cells are used to store THC, then it probably makes sense that exercising burn fat cells would expedite the process. Even if you didn’t know this, you’d probably heard of health gurus or fitness instructors talk about sweating out toxins or something similar. So this begs the question: does exercise actually work to detox THC?
To answer this question, we can refer to the work of Dr. Adie Poe, a scientist from the Legacy Research Institute in Oregon. Dr. Poe notes that while exercise might be able to help a little bit in the detox process, it would be unlikely to affect much and likely only shorten the detox period on the scale of a handful of days – nothing incredibly meaningful. She goes on to address that if the drug test is in the near future (e.g. next few days), then exercise might actually increase your likelihood of detection since exercise would release THC compounds into your bloodstream. It is worth noting, however, that while exercise cannot cure you of the THC compounds already in your body, it can be an effective preventative measure. Individuals that are leaner or have lower amounts of body fat typically are able to detox from marijuana faster than their counterparts with a higher amount of body fat. However, regardless of your body fat level, traces of cannabinoids will show up in drug tests if not enough time has passed.
Do Detox Remedies Help?
There are dozens of marijuana detoxes marketed to flush THC out of your body, and there are hundreds of detoxes that claim to flush dangerous and unwanted toxins out of your system. From pills to drinks to lotions to shampoo to even bracelets, many of these products claim to cleanse you in record time. So do any of them work?
First and foremost, there are no THX detox kits approved by the Food and Drug Administration – meaning that using these already poses a possible risk – and that should be reason enough to not use them. A second, possibly more compelling reason is that the detox itself could make the drug test look suspicious. Detoxes frequently use a cocktail of compounds and chemicals that force individuals to urinate a lot, among other functions. This rapid flushing of the kidneys is not only potentially dangerous (the effects of diuretics are well known), but actually change the composition of your urine itself, leading to lower density in urine and abnormal levels of other compounds such as creatine. Drug test companies look at things such as urine density and creatine levels to determine if there is any contamination present. This means that your tester may simply look to fail your test since it looks like you tried to cheat it, or simply ask you to retake it.
How Do I Detox from THC?
The only real way to detox and remove these compounds from your body is to simply wait it out. Your liver will slowly metabolize the compounds and over time these traces will disappear from your system. Dr. Poe estimates that it would take approximately 30 days for a daily cannabis user to no longer have any detectable traces of THC left.
While many THC detoxes on the market claim to speed up this process, they seem to be at best a waste of money and at worst something incredibly harmful to your body, so ultimately Father Time is your best ally in this battle.
How Do I Abstain from THC?
While marijuana does not have severe withdrawal symptoms, that does not mean abstaining from THC is easy. Marijuana can still be psychologically addictive, and physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia, and stress. With that in mind here are some tips to help you get through your period of abstinence.
While we said exercise can’t speed up the detox process, it can certainly make it easier. Exercise releases endorphins, improves mental health and mood, and keeps your judgment and mental acuity sharp. Exercise is also proven to help with insomnia and stress – two particularly negative withdrawal symptoms
Get Rid of All Marijuana
While it may be tempting to save your marijuana for after the drug test, the temptation to use will be much harder to resist if you have an active stash. We recommend getting rid of all marijuana in your home to beat this temptation ahead of time, as well as any marijuana-related swag or accessories that you might associate with consuming marijuana. If you’re unable to part with your marijuana or marijuana-related peripheries, giving them to a trusted friend or family member might be a good compromise until your detox is finished
Personal Triggers and Temptations
Many people have their specific triggers that cause them to want to partake in marijuana. By thinking and planning ahead of time and strategizing for what to do when these triggers appear will better equip you to deal and confront them than if you come across the trigger unprepared.
Meditation is proven to help manage stress, reduce negative emotions, and increase your patience and tolerance for negative experiences. All of which will greatly aid you in your abstinence from marijuana.
By combining these various tips and tricks, hopefully, the abstinence period to detox will become an easier and more positive experience. Dr. Poe suggests 30 days or more before THC is entirely undetectable within your body, but 90 days is the suggested time if you know that the drug test will be a hair follicle test, or if you want to play it safe. While detoxes and home remedies may claim to cleanse you of any THC compounds and play towards people’s tendencies to want a quick, easy solution, the only tried and true method the avoid THC showing up on a drug test is to completely abstain from marijuana use for 30 days or more.
You knew it was coming, the text in this article is informational only and not intended to be legal or medical advice or recommendations in any way. Use this information as you will with your own discretion. The bottom line is – be safe, follow the rules, and enjoy some Mary Jane while you are in the Bicentennial State for your Rocky Mountain High!