First, let’s define what greening out means.
We could say that “Green Out” is to consuming too much THC what “Black Out” is to consuming too much alcohol. Of course, it’s not the same type of reaction, and that’s what we’ll explain here.
Sometimes, there is a fine line between a good THC high and a green out. One thing is for sure, if you experience a green out, you’ll know it’s a green out. Of course, it’s not a pleasant reaction and when it happens, you just want it to stop!
Since what we understand is suddenly a lot less scary, let me first explain, in an accessible and understandable way, how the effect of cannabis takes place in the body. The phytocannabinoids in cannabis, like the endogenous cannabinoids (those produced by our system), interact with the Endo-Cannabinoid System (ECS) receptors, CB1 (located in the central nervous system) and CB2 (located in the peripheral areas of the body). It is through these receptors that physiological and psychological reactions are triggered.
Another important thing to know is that cannabis has biphasic effects. In other words, while it is true that a certain dose might bring beneficial effects, from a certain quantity onwards, increasing the dose no longer relieves the symptoms, but rather causes undesirable or even adverse effects. Let’s take the example of nausea. It is a known fact that the use of cannabis could help calm nausea, especially during chemotherapy treatment. That said, too much THC can trigger nausea and vomiting.
Therefore, it is very common to suggest that with medical cannabis, you should start SLOWLY and then GRADUALLY increase the doses to find the right dosage, but most importantly, not to exceed it. This means that the best effects of cannabis are not necessarily at higher dosages. Low to medium dosages often offer the best therapeutic effects.
Although you may not be in mortal danger during a green out, certain pre-existing conditions may make the reaction more dangerous. For example, certain mental health conditions may increase the risk of psychosis or adverse reactions to cannabis use. Also, people with heart conditions are more likely to experience cardiac episodes within an hour of use. For this reason, we strongly suggest that you consult your health care professional before using cannabis to get their opinion on the situation and the risks involved.
So, what is greening out?
Green out is usually accompanied by the following classic symptoms:
- Increased sweating
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty to breathe
With the experience of using cannabis, you realize that there are certain actions that can help get past this reaction. Frankly, there is no quick fix, and time is often the best ally. Time, and patience. Nevertheless, there are still some tips that can be taken into consideration to reduce the impact of greening out and feel a little better.
DON’T LET PANIC TAKE CONTROL
No matter how upside down you may feel, and no matter how scary it may be, no deaths have been recorded in the history of mankind because of too much cannabis use.
There is no reason to panic. You’re okay and everything is fine. You must convince yourself of that until it passes. Greening out can last from a few minutes to a few hours depending on the amount consumed and the route of administration chosen.
In fact, the use of inhaled cannabis can cause a green out more quickly than the ingestion of edibles. On the other hand, ingestion slows down the elimination of the substance, which can extend the effects of the green out.
There is no need to panic. Talking to yourself and reminding yourself that everything is fine, that nothing bad is going to happen to you, can help keep your thoughts from running wild.
Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. Greening out can happen to anyone, even the most experienced. There may be situations where we accidentally overstep our limit. It’s not the end of the world, you get to know yourself. It’s a learning process and it will pass.
One of the most important feelings while greening out is anxiety. A good thing to do is to talk to yourself to help calm that nagging anxiety. There is nothing to worry about and the best thing to do is not to let the panic escalate.
To help yourself, focusing on your breathing, as in a meditation session, can be very comforting. Take long, deep breaths in through the nose and slowly exhale through the mouth, pursing the lips. Counting the time of the inhalation and exhalation will help distract anxiety-provoking thoughts.
Also, this type of breathing will bring a good amount of oxygen to your body and your heart will be slowing down.
If you can’t focus on your breathing because your thoughts are talking too loud, it may be a good idea to put on some music that you like, and it’s even better if you know the lyrics, because singing will allow your breathing to become more regular.
One known effect of cannabis use is dry mouth. During a green out, it seems that the senses are more sensitive and the increase in breathing frequency tends to increase dry mouth, which contributes to increased discomfort. Drinking water to avoid dehydration and improve mouth comfort can be a good part of feeling better.
Any cool drink such as fruit juice, tea or other soft drinks can be very helpful. Of course, it is not advisable to have drinks containing alcohol or caffeine. Alcohol can potentially increase the side effects of cannabis and coffee tends to increase anxiety.
Sometimes eating a light snack such as fruit can help you get back on track. If you think you can handle it, you can try it to see if it helps you feel better.
RELAX OR TAKE A NAP
Often, a little relaxation, laying down, can make a world of difference. If you are able to drift off to sleep, a short nap can be a great way to get rid of the effects of too much cannabis use. If you can’t, but are comfortable, just lay there and relax. Focus on your breathing.
For some people or in some situations, it may not be possible to relax. In this case, try exercise. Perhaps a short walk outside? Physical activity or even just moving can help take your mind off the whirlwind in your head and focus more on your body.
A NICE SHOWER
Depending on your reaction, if the effects of the “green out” have not passed, a shower can be beneficial to regain your psychological and physiological balance. A cool or slightly warm shower that is gradually cooled can help you relax and rebalance your body temperature.
If you do not have the option of getting into the shower, a cold compress or even running water on the back of your neck can replicate, at least in part, the benefits of showering.
TALK TO SOMEONE YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH
If there is someone you can talk to openly about what you are going through, talking about it can help you feel better. Sometimes a friend’s opinion can bring a new perspective that you didn’t think of, and it can help to calm the effects of the green out.
Talking in person may not be possible; texting does a good job too, as does voice messaging. Just verbalizing what you are going through already brings relief.
Massaging certain parts of your body can also provide relief from the symptoms of a green out. By gently massaging a part of your body, your attention is focused on that part of the body and the sensations brought on by the massage and take your thoughts away from the anxiety-inducing storm.
REMEMBER THAT IT WILL PASS
Greening out is a temporary state. It is important to remember it. It may take a few minutes to a few hours to wear off, and one thing is certain, the next morning you will feel much better and be back to normal.
It is important to remember that this bad experience is only due to too much THC consumption and that we do not die from it. You may feel bad and even scared, but you don’t have to worry. Once you understand and process it, the unpleasant effects of the green out will pass more easily.
Please note that this article on greening out is not intended to replace the advice of a health care professional who knows you and your situation personally. This content is only intended to provide information about the cannabis product in general as an educational aid. If you have any questions, please consult your health care professional.
Of course, the best way to avoid experiencing a green out as much as possible is prevention. As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”. We cannot predict our reaction, but we can be prepared to take precautions to avoid adverse effects. Educating yourself on the subject is already a good step towards prevention!
Here are a few things that can help you prevent rather than cure.
BE CAREFUL WITH EDIBLES
Many people like edibles for several reasons, particularly related to the duration of action, which can be much longer. That said, going beyond your personal limit when you have little or no knowledge of it is pretty easy, and it’s harder to soften the negative effects when they occur.
Inhalation or vaporization passes through the lungs into the bloodstream, which causes a much faster onset of action. This means that you can find out more quickly that you have exceeded your limit. With edibles, you can take a very large amount and you won’t know you’re over your limit until much later.
As we keep saying, start LOW and go SLOW. It’s a popular statement in the cannabis community, and even the most experienced users should always keep it in mind.
The slow action of edibles makes it more difficult to establish the right dose for you. That’s why it makes sense to start LOW and go SLOW in increasing the dose. The best way to know your personal limit is to try it starting with as little as 5mg or even 3mg and to use legal products with labels that clearly display the cannabinoid concentration.
Some professionals suggest that it may be a good idea to start with as little as half the dose suggested by your health care professional. This method serves to sensitize the system to the substance and allows for a gradual discovery of what dose is appropriate for each individual’s needs.
Because cannabis in all its forms can be difficult to dose, the first few times may not produce the desired effect. Be patient and you will find your therapeutic dosage. Wait 45 to 90 minutes before evaluating the effects of the edible and wait for the next dose before increasing it since sometimes the effect of edibles can seem mild and suddenly become much more intense. Listen to your body, it will talk to you.
GET TO KNOW YOURSELF
Despite all the efforts that are made in the cannabis industry, it can be complex to accurately assess the dosage needed for a person to get the best effects.
The best way to find out the appropriate dosage of the selected cannabis product is to start LOW and go SLOW and keep a consumption journal (for more information on good methods to keep a consumption journal, see the blog on the subject). This will allow you to keep track of different products and their effects in different situations, enhancing your own knowledge of yourself and your needs.
There are several aspects that need to be evaluated before you begin your journey to potential relief with medical cannabis. Obviously, every individual is different and reactions to a product or dosage may be different from one person to another. Because each system is different, the sensitivity and amount of cannabinoid receptors in your system will impact how you are affected. It is experience that will tell you your personal sensitivity to different cannabinoids.
Also, it is important to consider your experience with cannabis. The less experience a person has, the less tolerance they will have to cannabinoids. New users should be very careful not to overuse the first few times and avoid products with high THC concentrations.
DO NOT CONSUME ALONE
Since cannabis influences a person’s mental state, it is strongly advised to use in a place where you feel comfortable and where there are no stress factors. Of course, when it comes to preventing a green out, it is important to have someone you feel comfortable with by your side.
When you don’t know much about yourself and are at the experimental stage, going beyond your personal limit is a risk. It happens even to the most experienced consumers, with new products, for instance. The presence of someone with whom you are comfortable and with whom you do not feel pressure to use more can be a great relief in case of adverse effects.
CONSUME CBD PRODUCTS
THC, in too large a quantity (a quantity which, I must repeat, is relative to each person), is the cannabinoid responsible for the green out because it is the psychoactive agent. CBD, in a 1:1 ratio (or according to the tolerance of each person), would have a modulating effect on THC. This means that together, the psychoactive effects leading to potential adverse effects are reduced in intensity.
I have read a few times on some blogs that having CBD on you when you are greening out could be a good alternative to feel better, but I am not convinced. If CBD acts as a modulator when consumed in combination with THC, I have not found any evidence that it can act as an “antidote” to too much THC consumed.
On the other hand, I have found, in many other articles, old remedies for these undesirable effects that interest us here. It would seem that lemonade and black pepper, which are readily available in everyone’s home, are not only anecdotally effective remedies as reported by consumers, but also scientifically effective, as mentioned in this article. Keeping them close to you when you use them could help you get through a “green out”.
TAKE YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY IN CONSIDERATION
Certain health conditions may increase the risk of side effects. If you have a history of heart disease, it is best to consult your health care professional about this.
Also, certain mental health conditions may be predisposed to adverse effects. In particular, it is important to know that the risk of psychosis increases with the use of products with high THC concentrations. Also, a family history of psychosis or schizophrenia increases the risk of adverse effects, as does cannabis use that begins before the age of 16.
Take care, kuzens!
(9)Radhakrishnan R, Wilkinson ST, D’Souza DC. Gone to pot – A review of the association between cannabis and psychosis. Front Psychiatry 2014 May 22;5:54.
(10)Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects – PMC (nih.gov