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.
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  . 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
• Too much THC
Let’s break it down:
You might be shaking or shivering because you’re cold. Cannabis actually lowers your body temperature  —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.
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.
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  . 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).
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  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.
Muscle Spasm Treatment: Is Cannabis Effective?
How many muscles do you think you have? 50? 100? 200? Incredibly, we have over 650 named muscles. When counting muscles within muscles, some estimates go as 840. That’s a lot of muscles! With so many muscles it’s not hard to imagine that our body works hard maintaining them at an optimal level. For people with particular medical conditions, however, severe or persistent muscle spasms are a part of their everyday life. Many turn to cannabis. However, can cannabis be an effective muscle spasm treatment for these individuals?
What Are Severe and Persistent Muscle Spasms?
A muscle spasm is the involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. They occur spontaneously. For most people, it’s not serious. Acute muscle spasms usually occur when muscles are stressed from overuse, dehydrated, deficient in magnesium or potassium, or when an individual has poor circulation.
When an individual regularly experiences severe muscles spasms or persistent muscle spasms that occur daily (or near-daily), it is often a symptom of a more serious condition.
Severe muscle spasms are usually the result of damage or extreme stress on nerves that disrupt nerve root signals from the spinal cord. That could be any number of things, including a spinal cord injury, hernia, or pinched nerve in your neck or back.
Persistent muscle spasms (daily or near-daily) are usually caused by an underlying medical condition that is systemic or neurological. They can also be related to vascular, hormonal, or toxic-metabolic problems.
What Medical Conditions Cause Persistent Muscle Spasms?
Persistent muscle spasms are often the result of a movement or neurological disorder such as:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Possibly the most common condition associated with persistent muscle spasms.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
- Dystonias: Prolonged, repetitive contractions that cause twisting/jerking movements.
- Torticollis Syndrome: Also known as“wry neck.”
- Blepharism: Involuntary blinking.
- Myoclonus: Sudden, irregular, involuntary contractions
Can Cannabis Treat Muscle Spasms?
Muscle spasms, especially those caused by MS, are usually treated with pain relievers (analgesics), anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-anxiety medication, muscle relaxers, or, in some cases, Botulinum toxin. However, many patients find these drugs produce intolerable side-effects or aren’t effective. This has lead to many patients turning to cannabis as a muscle spasm treatment.
Recent scientific research has proven cannabis and cannabis-derived drugs can help patients with persistent muscle spasms. After an extensive review of all available medical research, in 2018 National Academy of Sciences produced a report — The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids — that states:
“Conclusive or substantial scientific evidence has shown that marijuana products are effective at treating chronic pain, calming muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, and easing nausea from chemotherapy.”
National Academy of Sciences
The review identified substantial evidence that cannabis-derived oral cannabinoids are effective in treating spasms from multiple sclerosis. Further, both oral cannabinoids and inhaled cannabis can treat chronic pain in adults.
After reviewing substantial medical evidence, researchers report:
“Oral cannabis-based drugs contain THC, the intoxicating compound in pot, or cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating chemical in marijuana that appears to have some therapeutic benefit.”
National Academy of Sciences
However, they also cautioned that because THC and CBD levels can vary considerably between cannabis strains, unless researchers create standards it will be challenging to comprehensively assess the impact of different strains with variable THC and CBD levels.
But, Wait, There’s More!
For many years, Israeli researchers have been isolating integral chemical components in cannabis to study the effects of cannabis on numerous medical conditions.
A 2013 Israeli study published by the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology reported various naturally occurring chemicals found in cannabis might decrease spinal cord and brain inflammation. The study’s findings for people suffering from severe or persistent muscle spasms is encouraging.
In addition, anecdotal evidence offered by patients who have chosen to use medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms such as severe pain, muscle tremors and spasms generally tend to be positive. Patients who are using medical marijuana seem, as a majority, to believe they are receiving medical benefits as a result and they are achieving results that improve their quality of life.
Popular Strains for Muscle Spasm Treatment
According to crowd-sourced reviews on Leafly, users with muscle spasms report positive results from the following strains:
Muscle Spasm Treatment: Hybrids
- ACDC (high-CBD)
- Canna-Tsu (high-CBD)
- Chemdawg 4
- White Widow
Muscle Spasm Treatment: Sativa-Dominant
- Great White Shark
- Charlotte’s Web (high-CBD)
- Sweet Diesel
- Jamaican Dream
As patients find conventional medications ineffective, an increasing number turn to cannabis as their preferred muscle spasm treatment. Cannabis is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-reliever) with chemicals that interact with the endocannabinoid system to influence how the body interprets pain. Research thus far has been encouraging. However, does that mean cannabis is an appropriate muscle spasm treatment for you? That’s a highly personal decision that you should make with your preferred medical professional (hopefully one who is knowledgeable about cannabis).
If you decide to use cannabis as a muscle spasm treatment, we’re happy to help you find the right strain and ingestion method that works for you. You can visit our online dispensary menu to search for the type of cannabis product that you like, or schedule an appointment for assistance.
Muscle spasms can have a detrimental effect on one's life. Is cannabis a viable muscle spasm treatment that can bring relief?