Marijuana Detox: What You Should Know
As laws change, talking about marijuana use is slowly becoming more common. Some people are assessing its medicinal value, while others are looking for ways to flush it out of their system because of drug testing or a simple desire to get toxins out of their systems.
But what exactly are they flushing out, and how long would it take to happen naturally?
When you smoke or consume marijuana, you can feel profound and immediate effects. But even once those effects are gone, marijuana metabolites remain. This means that chemical remnants of the plant are still present within your body.
These remnants are called cannabinoids. They can be detected in saliva, hair, fingernails, blood, and urine.
Drug tests look for the presence of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its metabolites. Generally, urine is tested, both because it’s easiest to collect and because THC remains detectable for a longer period of time in urine than elsewhere.
The main metabolite these drug screenings look for is called THC-COOH. This substance is stored in your body fat.
“Compared to other drugs, marijuana has the longest detection time, up to months, because the detectable chemicals stay in the body’s fat cells,” explained Nicolas Rossetti, manager of clinical services of Mobile Health, an occupational health center that conducts about 200,000 drug tests in New York City each year.
The vast majority of marijuana detoxes seek to flush the body of any detectable THC. These kits include capsules, chewable tablets, drinks, shampoos, and even mouthwashes to help you pass a saliva test.
However, if a drug test is your concern, detoxes can have additional effects that can make your urine sample look suspicious.
“Cleanses and teas can lower THC levels through their diuretic properties. They make individuals urinate a lot, which technically washes out the kidneys,” said Rossetti.
“This flushing of the kidneys can lower the specific gravity or density of the urine,” he added, “and a low specific gravity indicates contamination on the test, and the specimen could be discounted.”
Also, cleanses and teas may alter the amount of creatinine in the urine, another measure that drug tests look at. Abnormal creatinine levels can indicate contamination, according to Rossetti. This means the tester could assume that you attempted to cheat on your drug test.
While that doesn’t mean a positive test, it does mean the sample is unacceptable, and you’ll likely have to take the test again.
THC can be detected in your blood, urine, and even in your fat cells. The length of time THC remains detectable in the body depends on several factors, including:
- metabolism and eating habits
- exercise routine
- body fat percentage
- frequency and quantity of marijuana use
Because of all these factors, there is no single standard detection time. Some estimate it can stick around for anywhere from two days to several months.
Cannabinoid metabolites can remain detectable in urine even after long periods of abstinence. One study found traces of one metabolite, delta 1-THC, in urine as long as four weeks after use.
THC builds up in fat tissue, and from there slowly spreads to the blood. According to a 2013 study , exercise can cause THC to be released from your fat stores and into your blood.
THC can remain detectable in your blood for as long as seven days, depending on how frequently you use marijuana. Someone who smokes marijuana daily will likely carry marijuana metabolites for longer than someone who smokes infrequently.
As of 2018, marijuana is legal for recreational use in the U.S. in these states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C. Medical marijuana is approved in over 20 states.
But regardless of its legality, it’s important to remember that marijuana carries with it certain medical risks. Know the risks before you decide to use it or not.
- The main remnant cannabis drug tests look for is THC.
- How long THC stays in your body depends on your weight and how much you exercise, among other things.
Last medically reviewed on January 25, 2018
When you smoke or consume marijuana, you can feel profound and immediate effects. But even once those effects are gone, marijuana metabolites remain in your body.
How to Flush Marijuana Out of Your System
Friday September 18, 2015
M arijuana can be good for a lot of things, but helping you pass a drug test isn’t one of them. Many people ask us how to flush marijuana out of your system. Well, it starts with a bit of knowledge and a marijuana detox.
How can I clean weed out of my system?
There are many reasons why people want to ‘flush’ their system of marijuana. The most common situation is a drug test for employment purposes.
Workplace drug tests typically involve urinalysis (testing your pee) for metabolites. Metabolites are a byproduct of a substance after it has been processed by your body. When you consume marijuana, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in your blood stream will immediately increase. As your body cleanses the THC out of your blood stream, metabolites are left behind.
Note that THC, the cannabinoid known for its psychoactive effects, is responsible for getting you “high.” Having said this, both THC and the non-psychoactive metabolite, THC-COOH, will remain in your body’s fat tissue for varying lengths of time depending on a variety of factors.
To figure out if you are ‘clean’ for a drug test and how to get weed out of your system, you need to be able to determine the following:
- The amount of THC and its metabolites in your system
- The type of test you’ll be required to take
- The testing levels for your drug screen
How Much THC is in My Body?
There are a handful of factors that will help you determine how much THC and THC-COOH are in your body after any length of time, post-consumption.
How often you consume:
When determining how much THC is in your system, you must take the frequency of consumption into consideration, first and foremost. Do you smoke once a month, once a week, everyday? When you do smoke, are you only taking one hit or enjoying an entire joint (or two)? Obviously, the more frequently you use (and the actual amount you consume), the more THC and THC-COOH will accrue in the fatty tissue throughout your body.
Total body fat:
As we just mentioned, THC and THC-COOH store itself in fat cells, no matter how often or little you use. As a result, the more body fat you have, the more THC and its metabolites will be inevitably stored.
Metabolism & overall health:
It makes sense that the healthier you are, the better off you’ll be (in all aspects in life). When it comes to THC and its metabolites, they have less of a chance of storing themselves in your body fat, if there isn’t a lot of body fat in the first place! Having said this, everyone has varying metabolisms that break down THC at different rates. Although exercise can potentially push THC back into your blood stream at a faster rate, this doesn’t mean that you should throw away healthy habits into the wind. Simply maintain a healthy lifestyle and don’t work out too much before a test.
What you’re consuming:
Depending on what you consume (flower vs. concentrates) and even the quality of what you consume (top shelf flower vs. schwag) will greatly effect how much THC and THC-COOH are released into your body.
How Long Does THC Stay in My Body?
Typically speaking, psychoactive THC cannabinoids can be found in the system for 1-2 days after consumption for very infrequent users, while those who consume everyday can expect it to remain in your body for longer.
The half-life of THC metabolites is 7 days. Meaning every 7 days, the amount in your body will decrease by 50%.
With this number in mind, most people can assume their body will be clean of THC metabolites within 3-4 weeks — more or less depending on frequency, body weight and amount consumed.
THC is fat soluble and as a result, it gets stored in your fatty lipid tissue. Because of this, your fat cells will secrete THC metabolites into your bloodstream at a constant rate. As a result, many different cleansing techniques are ineffective, as your fat cells will continue to release THC metabolites into your system over time.
Types of Drug Tests
Similar to the variety of factors that can define how much THC is in your system, there are a number of ways your (future) employer can test you. They include urine, blood and hair.
- Urinalysis (UA) is the most common type of drug test. It’s used in many businesses because it’s less expensive than other modes of testing and is fairly accurate. Note that urine drug tests detect THC-COOH (metabolized THC), versus THC itself.
- Blood Test identifies THC in your bloodstream. Unlike urinalysis, a blood test will show impairment. For those who rarely consume, THC might not be measurable several hours afterwards, however for those who use everyday, THC could remain in your bloodstream for a much longer period of time.
- Hair Test is a less common form of testing, however does take place in some work places. Because it measures THC-COOH remainders in the hair follicle over the past several months, it’s often difficult to get around this one. Don’t worry though, you do have options available which we address below.
How Do I Pass a Drug Test?
The best way to pass any drug test is to not consume at all. Having said that, don’t worry if it’s “too late.” There are ways to mask THC in your system, so do your best to follow our tips below – and think about a backup plan in case you might need the extra help.
Typically, random drug tests are delivered with short notice, which means you won’t have as much time as you’d like to prepare for a drug test. It may sound silly, but as soon as you know that you’re going to have to take a marijuana drug test, stop consuming cannabis in any form! Whether you’re a heavy user or casual user, do yourself a favor and stop all cannabis consumption.
Note that the longer you have before your drug test, the better your chances will be of actually passing.
It’s important to realize that marijuana cannot be flushed out of your system using cranberry juice, niacin, vinegar, large amounts of water, creatine pills, ginger root tea, surejell, bleach, etc. In fact, most of these products continue to remain top of mind due to incorrect drug testing myths but they won’t actually help you pass modern drug testing techniques.
Instead, here are three ways to pass a drug test:
Forget detox pills, detox programs or detox kits! A normal healthy, in shape person can rid their body of toxins in 4-6 weeks with a great diet, water and plenty of exercise. Obviously, those with a fast metabolism, lower water retention and overall low BMI will be able to do this faster.
Detox in 3-6 days, with detoxification products.
If you’re on a tight time frame, then you probably just received notice about a marijuana drug test and need answers now. Thankfully, there are many detoxification products available (which we cover below) to help your body rid itself of harmful toxins in approximately a week. They’re successful by leveraging herbal supplements to cleanse your body. Be sure to use a home drug test kit after to ensure you’re fully clean of THC.
Detox in 24 hours, with same day cleansers.
If you’re truly panicking a day or two before your test, it might be worth your while to try a same day cleanser from a company like TestClear.com (available online). Such products temporarily target the urinary tract to flush metabolites to give you a brief period for which to give a clean urine sample, meaning you could technically pass a drug test in 24 hours.
Tips to Pass a Urine Drug Test:
As we mentioned, piss tests are more common than a hair drug test. To pass a marijuana urine test, also known as a urinalysis test, you don’t need to be 100% free of THC metabolites. Rather, you need to have levels below the threshold for the test. Typically the threshold is 50 ng/mL, which is higher than you may think. As long as you register under this value, your test result will be negative.
The primary method of passing a urine drug test is to dilute your urine enough where it will be below the 50 ng/mL threshold. It’s a simple as that, but with a hitch. Drug testing labs are on the lookout for diluted urine samples. So in order to be an effective technique, you need not only dilute your urine, but to mask the fact that your urine is diluted.
There is no reason to start drinking excessive amounts of water weeks or days before your test. It’s a waste of time as it only temporarily dilutes your urine. Your best bet is to drink 2-3 liters throughout the day before your test, and then around 1-2 liters several hours before your test. Don’t drink too much water though, as it can be dangerous. Start with 2 liters max and be sure to know your limits.
After drinking this much water, your pee will be colorless and have low levels of creatinine. These are both red flags for any testing lab to indicate diluted urine, so there are some additional steps you need to take.
You’ll need to make your pee yellow, and the best way to do this is by using vitamin B. Vitamin B-2 or B-12 seem to be the most effective for this purpose, so stop by your local drug store and take 50-100mg several hours before your test.
Creatinine is a chemical waste product produced by muscle metabolism. Creatinine is naturally occurring in the human body and is one method labs use to determine if your urine is diluted. It has a half-life of three hours, so no reason to start taking it more than a day or so before your test.
You can buy creatine supplements from almost any health food store. Creatine then gets broken down into creatinine by your body and is flushed out in your urine. You should take an above-average dose several hours before your test.
Whether you’re applying for a new job or trying to hold on to the one you’ve got, passing a marijuana drug test can be an important step. Here are several tips on how to clean THC out of your system, starting with a weed detox.