I don’t smoke Marijuana but talking about getting rid of THC – short for Tetrahydrocannabinol – in the body with a friend (to avoid detection in tests), I got curious and took a closer look at the inner working of the substance.
When I read that THC attached itself to fat cells, I immediately thought that maybe fasting could have an effect on the substance in the body. Turns out I wasn’t the only one wondering this!
Can fasting remove Cannabinoids from your body? No, it cannot. We know that THC attaches itself to body fat. So, the more fat you have, the more THC will be stored. If you lose weight, you’ll logically lose some of the THC and its metabolites, but not all. And fasting has no direct effect on this.
But how exactly THC works in the body? And could fasting impact this in any way? There is a lot more to it than just this quick answer, let’s dive into this.
How your body stores THC and its reaction to it
So as said earlier, Tetrahydrocannabinol, widely known as THC, is the substance in Marijuana that’s going to get you psychologically high. But how exactly is it processed in the body?
Following this great article by Marlene Rupp on the subject, I’ll try and give you a summary. Briefly, first, smoking VS eating Marijuana is processed quite differently in the body.
When smoked, THC enters the body through the lungs to then make its way in the bloodstream. It then goes straight to the heart, where it’s pumped through the whole body, including the brain.
Every time blood circulates in the body, a certain portion of THC goes into the liver where it’s processed and broken down into two other molecules. The original substance is called delta-9-THC and the two molecules are 11-OH-THC (psychoactive) and 11-COOH-THC (non-psychoactive).
The original molecule peaks within 10 minutes and 11-OH-THC (which is also psychoactive) at around 15 minutes later. Metabolite 11-COOH-THC peaks more than an hour after consumption and can stay in the body for around 7 days after.
When ingested, THC enters the bloodstream through the wall of the stomach and intestines. It travels first through the liver where it’s metabolized or eliminated before it even has a chance to bind to a receptor. The remaining delta-9-THC (pure THC) then goes straight to the heart and into the bloodstream. Delta-9-THC and 11-OH-THC reach the brain simultaneously
So what this has to do with fasting then? As I said before, THC is highly fat-soluble and it’s taken up rapidly by fat tissue. This occurs when traveling into the bloodstream. The more fat tissue, the more THC stored in fat.
What can really change how fast your body will get rid of the THC depends on the speed of your metabolism. With a fast metabolism, THC will be metabolized more quickly. Usually, leaner people have quicker metabolism.
But you already know what can boost your metabolism? Fasting! Moreover, intermittent or regular fasting will train your metabolism to be quicker.
That will not only help get rid of THC in fat stores but could even getting rid of it faster in your metabolism. Keep in mind that it’s a simple conclusive idea. I have no actual data to back it up.
But I have actual data that goes against this, although not directly against. A study in 2014 tested the effect of a 24-hour fast and physical exercise on fat-stored cannabinoids. They concluded the following:
To summarize, neither exercise at moderate intensity for 45 min. nor 24-hr food deprivation caused significant elevations in blood or urine cannabinoid levels in our six human subjects. […] We conclude that exercise and fasting in regular cannabis users are unlikely to cause sufficient concentration changes to hamper interpretation in drug testing programmes.
Which is a quite clear-cut conclusion on the whole question.
How to get rid of THC in your body faster
If fasting is not exactly the way to go, what could actually help you get rid of THC quickly in your body?
Well not much as I found out! THC detection depends on many factors, some of them I already mentioned:
- THC amount: Whether you’re an occasional or regular smoker will make a lot of difference in how much time THC will stay in your organism
- Body fat: Again, THC is highly fat-soluble, the more body fat you have, the more THC you’ll carry
- The test itself: It’ll depend on the type of test you’ll be submitted to of course whether it be urine, blood, hair or saliva.
- Exercise: The study mentioned above cited another study specifically on how THC concentration can be influenced by exercise. And guess what? Exercising before smoking or ingesting THC can actually increase THC concentration in the body.
- Metabolism: The faster the metabolism, the faster the THC is gotten rid of.
- Hydration: Cannabis doesn’t dehydrate you, you might suffer from dry mouth, but that’s not the same thing. But being dehydrated could actually increase concentrations of THC in the body.
After reading this you might think “So what exactly is there to do to eliminate THC faster?” since all that wasn’t much of an answer.
Sadly, I don’t have any short answers on the subject. We already tackled the metabolism angle, so being an intermittent faster with a quick metabolism can accelerate the process.
And keeping hydrated before the test couldn’t hurt, surely, being dehydrated can.
As for the other points, there’s not much to take from them. The best way to get rid of THC is simply to wait.
Yeah, sorry about that.
Is smoking weed when fasting a good idea anyway?
I already asked myself if cigarettes or weed could actually break a fast in this article on the subject.
As I stated, smoking marijuana while fasting will not be a good combination since it will increase your hunger. Unless you’re a regular smoker and don’t get much of the munchies anymore.
Smoking itself won’t break a fast, any more than weed will. But there are dangers to combining fasting and smoking. An intermittent faster might combine his habits with smoking without too much inconvenience.
It is not recommended, but in that case, doesn’t cause much more problem than smoking on a regular diet.
On a prolonged fast, especially when going over 5 days, it could get worse though. Cigarettes are especially ill-advised because of all the chemicals in it. Your body on a fast will get all the nutrients it can absorb, even dangerous ones.
Smoking pure weed though, might not be as bad, but it’s still inhaling smoke and other small chemicals. And your body is not made to handle those, especially when food-deprived.
On another note, a study stated that Marijuana could actually help reduce insulin resistance and higher insulin sensitivity. That being said, it doesn’t mean you should smoke weed when you’re fasting. The mere act of smoking when food-deprived is a bad idea.
Will smoking weed dehydrate me? Smoking cannabis will cause dry mouth. Dry mouth is not the same as being dehydrated. The THC actually attaches itself to receptors located in the salivary gland, thus decreasing saliva secretion, causing dry mouth.
Why does marijuana make me hungry? Much the same as dry-mouth, hunger comes from THC attaching itself to receptors in our brain. THC mimics chemicals produced by the brain (the same chemicals responsible for controlling appetite, memory or pain). Instead of producing signals that you’re full, it starts telling the hypothalamus that you’re hungry.