Does Weed Make You Dehydrated?
Defining Dehydration and How It Occurs
In a nutshell, dehydration occurs when more water and fluids leave your body than those you take in. If you don’t replace the water you lose, your body becomes dehydrated and is unable to carry out its regular functions.
In general, we feel thirsty when our body needs water. Unfortunately, it has been proven that thirst alone is not a very good indicator of when we need more water . Many people start feeling thirsty when they are already dehydrated, especially older individuals. In general, it’s recommended to increase your water consumption consciously when you are sick, the weather is hot, or you are physically active.
A person who is dehydrated can easily notice some symptoms. Perhaps the most obvious one is less frequent urination and dark yellow urine . There are also less obvious symptoms like fatigue or dizziness that indicate dehydration and may be confused with a weed hangover.
Dehydration occurs through many regular processes. We lose water from our bodies when we sweat, breathe, urinate, produce saliva, and more. If you don’t drink enough water to replace the loss, your body dehydrates.
Sometimes, getting dehydrated may not be intentional. We may forget to drink enough water if we are busy, we don’t feel thirsty, or... we’re high. With the most common symptom of getting high being the dry mouth, you may ask – what is the link between marijuana and dehydration? Is the dry mouth a sign of dehydration?
The Link Between Marijuana and Dehydration: How Weed Affects the Body's Water Levels
Cannabis smokers are familiar with the dry mouth, known as “cotton mouth”. A dry mouth feeling is also a symptom of dehydration but, in the case of cannabis smokers, a dry mouth after smoking marijuana does not indicate dehydration.
In general, smoking marijuana does not dehydrate you, although you may feel like it. The weed hangover usually comes with dizziness, dry mouth, and lightheadedness, and all of them are also symptoms of dehydration, thus it’s easy to confuse the root cause.
When smoking weed, you get a dry mouth feeling because THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the substance that makes you high, attaches to the salivary glands, preventing them from releasing saliva in your mouth . This only means that your body doesn’t produce saliva, which is not correlated with your body not having enough water. On the other hand, you have a dry mouth when dehydrated because your body lacks water, electrolytes, or both.
Overall, weed per se doesn’t affect the body’s water levels. There is no evidence that weed is dehydrating, but there are many things smokers usually do when consuming weed that dehydrates them. One example would be consuming alcohol when smoking. It’s best to avoid mixing alcohol with marijuana to avoid dehydration and many other side effects.
Although marijuana does not generally cause dehydration, there’s one rare event when it does happen. It’s common among daily, long-term marijuana users (about 6% of them) who develop cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) . CHS causes nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain in cannabis users.
CHS often has three stages. In the first stage, regular, long-term smokers experience morning nausea and abdominal pain. In the second stage, the person experiences nausea and vomiting, weight loss due to eating less food, and dehydration. The third stage is recovery – which means stopping using marijuana, which is the only 100% working cure for CHS.
The Symptoms of Dehydration Caused by Weed
As briefly discussed above, marijuana does not lead to dehydration, but marijuana smokers get dehydrated because of other reasons. In fact, about 75% of Americans - weed users or not - suffer from chronic dehydration and don’t even know it . This makes it quite likely that a weed user is already dehydrated before smoking.
Cannabis consumption and dehydration have similar symptoms that make people confuse the two: dry mouth, lightheadedness, fatigue, extreme thirst, and dizziness, among others. It’s also important to know that being dehydrated and smoking marijuana will have worse side effects compared to a person who’s hydrated. This is because when you get high, your blood vessels get smaller, so it’s even more difficult to transport water to your body’s cells, which are already dehydrated.
If you smoke marijuana, it’s recommended to practice good hydration to avoid the following symptoms:
- Intense thirst
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- White tongue
- Back pain
Some of these symptoms are also associated with marijuana consumption. If you are dehydrated, they will worsen. One of the easiest ways to see if you are dehydrated or not is to check your urine – if it has a dark color, you need more water.
How to Prevent Dehydration When Smoking Weed
Perhaps the best way to prevent dehydration when smoking weed is through moderation. This also decreases your chances to develop the CHS.
In addition to this, it’s recommended to avoid alcohol when smoking weed as alcohol dehydrates you. If you do drink alcohol, make sure you have plenty of water. If you feel drowsy or hangover the next day after smoking weed, you should avoid drinking coffee or drinks with caffeine. While these may help you feel more alert, they dehydrate your body. In this case, it’s recommended to get extra sleep and let your body recover.
Apart from these suggestions, there are a few other ways to prevent dehydration when smoking weed, as discussed below.
Opt for Healthy Snacks and Foods
You should be mindful of what snacks and foods you opt for, especially when you get the munchies. Consuming a large amount of salty or processed foods can increase the sodium level in your body, and you become thirstier than usual. This is because your body tries to regulate the sodium-water ratio, so you should drink more water to regulate this electrolyte. If you fail to drink more fluids, your body is forced to pull the water out of your cells, leaving you dehydrated.
On a daily basis, our body gets about 20% of the water from food. When smoking weed, you could focus on snacks and foods that are rich in water, such as cucumbers, peppers, celery, or lettuce. Watermelon and strawberries are also highly hydrating.
Stock Up on Hydrating Drinks
Apart from plenty of water, there are a few other beverages you can drink to stay hydrated when smoking weed:
- Skimmed milk was proven to be more hydrating than water ;
- Tea is not only hydrating but also calming and helps to lower your stress; you need to avoid types of tea that contain caffeine (such as green tea), because these will dehydrate you;
- Coconut water is hydrating and rich in several electrolytes;
- Hydration mixes that you can keep on hand throughout the day or when you smoke marijuana; these are not only hydrating and nourishing your body, but the sweet and pleasant taste will help with the munchies;
- Make smoothies using your favorite fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also add milk or coconut water to the mix to maximize its hydrating benefits, and you can even add CBD or liquid cannabis extracts to your beverage.
All of these suggestions will work best if you are consistent. You should drink water, hydrating supplements, and have healthy foods all the time, not only when you smoke marijuana. Dehydration when using cannabis can make all side effects worse, including headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
Other Tips to Stay Hydrated
In general, it’s recommended to drink about 3 liters of water per day (about 100 oz) to keep your body hydrated. Make sure you have a healthy supply of water or other hydrating liquids to rinse your mouth, especially as soon as you get the dry mouth feeling. You should avoid sugary sodas or energy drinks because they may dehydrate you.
Overall, these are some practical tips for staying hydrated when smoking marijuana:
- Chew ice cubes;
- Take a lozenge;
- Don’t mix it with alcohol;
- Avoid eating too many salty or sugary snacks, as these can dehydrate you;
- Drink water throughout the whole day, not only when smoking;
- Consume less processed foods and fried foods, as these can dehydrate you due to their high salt content.
That being said, you should be mindful of your water intake. Too much can lead to water intoxication, which means that you have excessive water in your body. This can happen if you drink too much water in a very short time period. For instance, if you drink all 100 oz of water in 1-2 hours, you are exposed to many risks, including death. Make sure you split the recommended amount of water evenly throughout the day.
Overall, there are many ways to stay hydrated when smoking marijuana. The best way to stay healthy is through moderation and a healthy lifestyle and diet. We don’t always experience thirst when we need water, so stacking up hydrating drinks and plain water is an efficient way of avoiding dehydration. Also, staying hydrated is a foolproof way of decreasing the symptoms of weed hangover the next day.
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