As cannabis continues to become more legal and generally accepted around the world, talk around the drug is also starting to become more common. In fact, cannabis has many people excited and hopeful, given its wide range of medicinal and therapeutic benefits.
However, others are anxiously trying to find ways of completely flushing it out of their system as quickly as they can for fear of testing positive in a drug test – something which can inevitably lead to loss of employment.
If you’ve ever tried flushing out marijuana from your system or even wondered what happens exactly during and after the detox process, this article has been specifically tailored for you.
What Cannabis Leaves Behind in the System
Depending on the cannabis strain you smoke, you may or may not immediately feel some of the profound effects, or in plain words, that euphoric high. But once those effects diminish, cannabis metabolites known as cannabinoids still remain. Therefore, the chemical remnants of what you just smoked or consumed can be detectable in the body, at times, up to several days and weeks.
The remnants, or cannabinoids if you want to get technical, vary depending on the strain you consume. For instance CBD (Cannabidiol) is nowhere near as psychoactive or potent as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – which is, in fact, the most potent type of compound found in the cannabis plant. Therefore, if you’ve consumed a strain which contains the latter, chances are the metabolites in your system will be more easily detectable and will linger around a lot longer than CBD or other less psychoactive strains.
Even though the most common type of marijuana drug tests are blood and urine, other more advanced tests can also detect cannabinnoids through hair, saliva and fingernail samples.
What Drug Tests Detect
Marijuana drug tests are devised to look for the presence of THC and its active metabolites. In most cases, you’ll be asked to undergo a urine test, because it is not only convenient and practical but also because traces of THC are most detectable in urine, and for a much longer duration than other tests.
To be more specific, the main metabolite urine drug tests look for is THC-COOH which is stored in fat cells.
Unfortunately, cannabis in contrast with other drugs has a high detection ratio, which can sometimes range into months in fact, because the detectable metabolites find abode in fat cells.
How Long Will THC Stay in My System?
We now know that THC is detectable in urine, blood and fat cells. The duration it stays in your system is governed by the following factors:
- As mentioned, current body fat levels
- Exercise and lifestyle routine including daily physical activity levels
- Eating habits and metabolic rate
- Amount and frequency of cannabis use
- Body mass index (BMI)
Due to these factors, there isn’t any standard benchmark when it comes to detection time, unfortunately. Experts estimate that it can hover around in the system for just two days or sometimes months.
However, just to give you a ballpark figure, cannabis can stay for:
- 1-7 days in the blood and saliva
- Up to 3 days in the urine for light users and 77 days for regular and heavy users – so the average of the two falls around 10-30 days
- Up to 90 days or more in hair
This is all that’s known owing to current research and drug reports, so if you think that a drug test is imminent, a complete THC detox would be the only viable solution.
How Does a THC Detox Work Anyway?
The majority of cannabis users seek to flush any detectable traces of THC from their body through a variety of methods – some of the most common ones are THC ‘detox kits’ which include chewable tablets, capsules, shampoos, drinks and even mouthwashes, in cases where people are asked asked to take a saliva test.
However, if you bring a drug test into the picture, then understand that artificial detoxes may have certain effects that can make your urine sample appear suspicious.
Teas and cleanses, for example, can certainly lower THC in the body, given their diuretic prowess. They make you urinate more than usual, washing out the kidneys more frequently.
When there’s excess flushing in the kidneys, the density or specific gravity of urine is effectively lowered. This could spell trouble because a low urine density registers as ‘contamination’ in the test. The specimen will most likely be discarded and you may be asked to take another urine test.
Furthermore, teas and cleanses have a tendency to alter creatinine levels in the urine, which means the required value to pass the test will not register. Unusual creatinine levels will, again, indicate contamination – the drug tester may conclude that you attempted to cheat the drug test. So, you’ll need to take the test again.
I Don’t Have to Take a Drug Test – Do I Still Need a THC Detox?
For majority of users, day to day cannabis smoking without breaks means that the same euphoric effects are not consistently experienced. This can only mean one thing – you have entered the cannabis tolerance zone which many users dread – you need heavier, more regular doses to feel the same effects that you used to initially experience.
A THC detox can offer a much needed ‘immunity break’ which may rejuvenate the effects of cannabis you experience when resuming consumption. As an added bonus, you will certainly learn to appreciate the herb more because the main goal is to have it enhance life in some way or the other – rather than simply act as a ‘psychoactive vessel’ to get through the day, wouldn’t you agree?
Once you go on an immunity break, you would be wise to abstain from consumption until the THC has ‘jettisoned’ itself from the body completely. And since you’re in no hurry to detox, there’s no real need for products that aid in THC detoxification – well, unless you’re rather anxious to start smoking again or there’s a nagging drug test around the corner.
How to Detox from THC (Assuming You Have an Upcoming Test)
To date, many effective THC detox methods have been studied and documented. All the methods below encourage the body to flush THC out quickly and dilute the metabolites left behind by it, without making the test results ‘suspicious’.
Natural THC Detox
Water and diuretics should be your first go-to for THC detoxification. Since the most common way to test for THC metabolites is a urine test, it goes without saying that the more urine you pass, the more THC metabolites will be flushed out of your system, and the more diluted your urine will be – which is the end goal here.
However, there is a caveat here which deserves some attention and understanding; if you are scheduled to take a drug test, there’s a higher chance that it will yield a positive result for diluted urine or otherwise urine which has been ‘manipulated’ in some way to mask substances.
Put another way, much like athletes are required to take drug tests, any efforts on your part to ‘tamper’ with the results are registered the same way as if illegal substances were to be found in a diluted urine sample – the athlete would be banned from competition. But it’s not all gloom and doom – there is a way to make this detox method work for you.
The window to dilute your urine is somewhat limited. Therefore, you need to find the right diuretic. Even though tea, coffee, off-the-counter diuretics and grape juice are all fine, cranberry juice is not only the most natural choice but it is also safer than the other choices. Another thing to consider is the electrolyte content in your diuretic – drinking too much water without electrolytes can, in some cases, lead to serious health conditions (in some cases, death) by water intoxication – i.e. consuming too much water without salt.
Baking soda or table salt works fine but you can also buy off-the-counter electrolytes. Add these to your water or diuretic in only small amounts. Do a little research to determine how much electrolyte content needs to be in a certain quantity of water – or you could just resort to Gatorade.
Twenty four hours out from the test, consume your diuretic drink or water by the gallon, spread out over 24 hours, according to your own pace and tolerance level. This will dilute your urine. On one hand this is good because your urine will now be transparent. On the other, you will need a strong yellow hue to be present in your urine to pass the test – this is where B-vitamins come in.
Three days prior to your test, start taking a single dose. On the day of the test, consume a single dose 5 hours prior. Your urine will now have a natural, yellow hue.
Your activity and stress levels need to stay balanced because any fluctuations can register a positive result.
For example, burning too much fat will most likely lead to a quick last-minute dump of THC metabolites from the fat cells into the blood stream. Conversely, if you suddenly become inactive, your fat cells may harbour more cannabinoids.
Therefore, keep your physical activity level moderate and consistent, adding in a 30-60 minute regimen of light-moderate exercise each day.
THC Detox Kits
There are many THC detox products that can be purchased online which include herbal supplements, shampoos, special teas and cleansers, other special detox drinks, etc. But if you’re in no hurry to take a drug test, we’d recommend going down the natural detox route.