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What Are The Cannabis Shakes And Why Do They Happen?

Ever started shaking uncontrollably after smoking a large amount of weed? Well, you’re not alone. The “cannabis shakes” have numerous causes and are most likely nothing to worry about.

Contents:

Breaking down the cannabis shakes: what they are, why they happen, and how to deal with them.

So, you’re relaxing, enjoying a smoking session with friends, when suddenly your leg starts to twitch, then your shoulder, and your eyelid. You start to freak out and the tremors get worse. Panicked, you wonder what’s happening to you. Don’t worry, it’s probably just the cannabis shakes (and you should be fine in a few minutes).

What are the cannabis shakes?

“The shakes” are involuntary muscle twitches and tremors. This phenomenon can sometimes occur after consuming weed. If you typically associate the shakes with alcohol withdrawal or more serious health conditions, don’t stress. When it comes to cannabis, the shakes are generally no big deal.

Cannabis has a very good safety profile [1] . While no formal studies have been conducted on cannabis shakes, a plethora of anecdotal reports tell us they’re relatively common and typically harmless. Like other symptoms of consuming too much weed, such as increased heart rate, sweating, and nausea, they tend to subside as quickly as they began.

Why do you shake after smoking cannabis?

So, what causes the cannabis shakes? Are they just a side effect of getting too high for your own good? There are actually a variety of factors that could contribute to the shakes, including:

• Cold environment
• Over-stimulation
• Anxiety
• Too much THC

Let’s break it down:

Cold environment

You might be shaking or shivering because you’re cold. Cannabis actually lowers your body temperature [2] —an effect known as “THC-induced hypothermia”. Before you start imagining yourself freezing to death as your couch morphs into a snow-covered mountain, take a beat. THC-induced hypothermia only causes a slight drop in basal body temperature. You might shiver and shake what your mama gave you, but it isn’t dangerous or life-threatening.

Over-stimulation

In a lot of places, it’s common to roll a little tobacco into your joint. Nicotine is a stimulant: it excites the nervous system and boosts dopamine levels. While this boost is the reason a lot of people like to add a pinch of tobacco to their weed, it can cause twitching and anxiety in higher doses. If you’ve been enjoying this combo and find yourself with a case of the shakes, the problem could actually be the tobacco, not the cannabis. Likewise, if you’ve been drinking a lot of coffee, tea, or soda, caffeine could be contributing to your tremors.

Anxiety

It’s well-known that weed can cause acute anxiety and paranoia, and some people are more susceptible to it than others. If you’re one of those people, or if you just caught a bad break, nervousness could be at the root of your shakes. Of course, your body acting in ways that feel out of your control can amplify anxiety. If you get the shakes, try not to panic. Instead, keep calm and carry on.

Too much THC

To go back to the original question: Are the shakes just a side effect of getting way too high? Often, the answer is yes. The cannabis shakes are commonly due to a mild THC overdose. Don’t let the word “overdose” freak you out too much, especially if you’re young and healthy. We’ve all flown too close to the sun at some point, but nobody has died from overdosing on cannabis alone [3] . Freaked out and embarrassed yourself in front of all your friends? That’s another story.

What can you do if you get the cannabis shakes?

To recap, the cannabis shakes are not life-threatening, but they can leave you feeling alarmed and uncomfortable. While time is a key factor, waiting for them to subside on their own isn’t your only option. Here are some quick harm-reduction tips to help combat the shakes:

• Adjust your environment
• Move around, distract yourself, breathe
• Stay away from stimulants
• Consider switching strains
• Try some CBD

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Adjust your environment

Regardless of the precise cause of your shakes, sitting there and panicking or focusing on how uncomfortable you feel won’t help. Instead, take control of the things you can.

Environment plays a huge role in our emotional state, especially when psychoactive substances are involved. Feeling comfortable, warm, and safe is key. That could mean going to a different room or a more relaxing place. It could mean leaving an overwhelming social situation. It could be as simple as adjusting the lighting and putting on your favourite tunes. And, if your shakes are actually shivers, crank the heat. Cosy blankets are a chilly stoner’s best friend.

Move around, distract yourself, breathe

If you feel yourself starting to panic, switch gears from straight up shaking to shaking it off. Get up and move around. Distract yourself with a simple task, even if it’s counting steps. Take slow, deep breaths to calm down, or try some other strategies to calm anxiety. Movement and breathing help you recenter yourself in your body and focus on something other than your anxiety. Walking or moving around also gets you to stretch and warm up your tense, twitching muscles.

Stay away from stimulants

If you’ve been rolling your joints with tobacco or drinking caffeine, it’s time to try less-stimulating alternatives. Switch to non-caffeinated beverages and limit the amount of tobacco in your joints. If using pure cannabis feels too basic, spice it up with something different. A number of herbs make great tobacco alternatives. Just avoid anything with strong stimulant properties. You don’t want to end up back where you started, with the shakes (version 2.0).

Switch strains

A few of the factors that cause the shakes—anxiety, over-stimulation, too much THC—could boil down to the strain you’re smoking. There are hundreds of cannabis strains out there, each with its own unique mix of properties. In general, sativa-dominant strains tend to be more stimulating (and possibly anxiety-inducing) than indica-dominant strains.

Many people love the boost they get from a good sativa. But, if you’re prone to anxiety or paranoia, look for indica strains that tend towards relaxation. Of course, the indica/sativa split isn’t a hard rule. The best choice is an informed one, so don’t be afraid to check strain reviews from other users or ask your budtender for a recommendation.

Try some CBD

It’s also possible that the THC content of your strain is simply too high. Instead, look for a strain that’s high in CBD (cannabidiol). CBD isn’t psychoactive, and scientific studies [4] have found that it mitigates some of the side-effects of THC. Research also suggests it has potential as an anxiolytic, meaning it may help to combat anxiety. Depending on your preference, choose a strain with a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD, or one that’s higher in CBD and lower in THC. These popular high-CBD strains are an excellent starting point.

What if it’s too late to switch strains and you’re already high? If you find yourself caught in the midst of those twitches and tremors, CBD could still help. You probably don’t want to add more THC to your system, so choose CBD oil or isolates with quick delivery mechanisms. A few drops of high-quality CBD oil or tincture under the tongue is your best bet.

How long do the cannabis shakes last?

Luckily, the cannabis shakes usually don’t last too long. Of course, this depends on a few factors, including the amount of cannabis you took (and how you took it). If you vaped, smoked a joint or indulged in one too many bong rips, you should feel better within 15–20 minutes. If you overdid it on the edibles, you might be in for a longer haul.

If you experience truly alarming symptoms, have underlying health conditions, or suspect something more is going on, check with your doctor or a cannabis-informed healthcare provider. Beyond that, a few key adjustments and a little bit of patience (or CBD) should do the trick.

Twitches and tremors after smoking weed are generally harmless. Here's what causes the cannabis shakes and how to combat them.

Body Temperature and Cannabis: Does Pot Influence Body Heat?

The answer is yes, but barely.

Some people report getting the cold shakes when they get high, and others report feeling warm, making them ask “does consuming cannabis mess with our body heat one way or the other?” Don’t think that your body’s temperature regulation system is broken if you feel a sudden cold surge.

Cannabis products with varying degrees of THC, the psychoactive component of the plant, can affect your body temperature in a couple of ways, though most studies show pot is unlikely to cause a significant change unless you use it in very high doses.

In general, high doses of cannabinoids can lower body temperatures, with lab animals showing consistent decreases in temperatures following exposure to THC. There’s also some research which suggests it’s possible to become tolerant to the heat loss effects of THC, but only in female rats after four days, so the jury is still out on long-term effects in the human population.

There’s also some research which suggests it’s possible to become tolerant to the heat loss effects of THC, but only in female rats after four days, so the jury is still out on long-term effects in the human population.

How Cannabis Influences Body Temperature

Cannabis is a substance that affects people in a lot of different ways, with side effects ranging from dry mouth and red eyes to dizziness and paranoia. According to a 2017 study comparing the effects of THC and synthetic cannabinoids on lab rats, one of the primary effects of THC in lab animals is lower body temperature,

The hypothermia that results from THC is produced by certain cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system, the research reported, while noting the effects of cannabinoids on body temp are considered “relatively straightforward.”

Researchers surgically implanted transmitters measuring body temperature or blood pressure into groups of rats. Then they injected THC and synthetic cannabinoids into the rats, and then monitored them for three hours.

After about 30 minutes, both THC and the synthetic cannabinoids resulted in decreases in body temperature. This was dependant on the dose they were given. Although they didn’t reach their lowest point until about 90 minutes.

A 2008 study from Brain Research tested how THC affected locomotor (body movements), brain, muscle and skin responses in rats. The animals were given three widely varying doses and then their responses to stimuli, including a tail pinch and social interaction, were compared to control subjects.

Lowest Temperatures Follow the Largest Doses

iStock / Olena Kurashova

After socializing and getting pinched, the control rats showed an increase in brain and muscle temperature. The rats given THC at any dose showed lowered brain and muscle temperature, though clinical hypothermia was seen only following the largest dose. In fact, the temperature effects of THC at lower doses was similar to a response from diazepam, a medication used to treat anxiety disorders.

Another study, published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, looked at two receptors in the body — one, called CB1, which is in the brain, and the other, CB2, which is found throughout the body — to untangle the chemical process at the molecular level that leads to certain marijuana side effects, including hypothermia.

The researchers, from Temple University, looked at the molecule nitric oxide and discovered that when they attached a cannabinoid with a substance that blocked nitric oxide from being synthesized, hypothermia more than doubled in rats. The study authors noted in a statement their results demonstrated “the possibility that (nitric oxide) plays a part in regulating the impact of cannabinoids on body temperature and other cannabinoid-mediated actions.”

CBD Found to Not Alter Body Temperature

By contrast, CBD does not appear to alter body temperature. Results reported in a 2011 review published in Current Drug Safety, suggest that CBD is non-toxic and does not affect heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, and also doesn’t affect the gastrointestinal tract or alter psychological functions.

Furthermore, a 2017 study reports that CBD treatment of up to two weeks had no effect on blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, glucose and other levels. CBD, in general, has fewer side effects than products with THC, according to a host of research.

How Does the Body Regulate Heat?

The body has a brilliant system for regulating temperature that balances heat production with heat loss. This process is coordinated by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that directs a number of body functions, including the operation of the nervous system.

Similar to a thermostat, the hypothalamus regulates temperature, with the goal of maintaining homeostasis. This means keeping the body temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. It does this in response to multiple factors, both internal and external. For example, things like spicy foods we eat, the stress we go through and the heat outside. The hypothalamus doesn’t work alone — it coordinates with skin, sweat glands and blood vessels, the “vents, condensers and heat ducts of your body’s heating and cooling system.”

Marijuana and cannabinoids are known to have a strong effect on the hypothalamus’ regulatory functions, so it makes sense that they would affect the body’s temperature.

Any body-temperature changes caused by marijuana are usually mild and pass quickly. If you feel chilly, it might be a good time to grab a blanket and cuddle up. Smoking likely won’t cause any significant issues related to body heat, but if uncomfortable symptoms persist, you may want to get checked out by a medical professional.

Weed with varying degrees of THC can affect your body temperature in a couple of ways. Most studies show pot is unlikely to cause a significant change.