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Cannabis Column | May 26, 2022

What is Greening Out?

Have you ever “greened out?” Greening out is a fairly new term in the cannabis world, but it is a side effect you want to avoid if possible. In this article, we will answer the questions, “what is greening out?”, “why does cannabis sometimes make you feel disoriented?”, “how long does greening out last?”, and “How can you prevent greening out?” 

Disorientation—which in its extreme form is called “greening out”—is a common adverse side effect of cannabis. Disorientation is marked by feeling confused and lost and is defined as “a usually transient state of confusion especially as to time, place, or identity often as a result of disease or drugs.” 

For example, have you ever eaten an edible and felt uncomfortable and disoriented a few hours later? If this disoriented feeling made you feel anxious and overwhelmed, you might have “greened out.” So, why does weed sometimes make you disoriented? And what is greening out?

Why Does Weed Make You Disoriented?

Cannabis exerts its effects through cannabinoids, which bind to endocannabinoid (eCB) receptors in your brain and body.

Disorientation typically refers to confusion about your surroundings or the state of having lost your direction. The word originally comes from the French term meaning “to turn from the East,” which conveyed the idea of someone having lost their bearings. However, as a cannabis side effect, disorientation refers to temporarily losing your mental bearings or sense of normalcy in a way that isn’t pleasant.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a role in modulating a variety of processes involved in mood, cognition, regulation of movement, arousal, and food intake. When you consume cannabis, you flood your bloodstream with cannabinoids, which alters the homeostatic balance in your body and brain. 

These changes produce euphoria, stimulate the appetite, enhance sensory perception, and may lead to disorientation. Scientists who study disorientation indicate that it has less to do with the inability to store new information, and more to do with “a confusion of memory traces from different events.” The ECS plays an important role in time perception, memory consolidation, mood, emotion, and more. For some individuals, cannabis may alter these processes in a way that produces disorientation. When high doses of THC are ingested, consumers may experience an intense form of disorientation and anxiety called “greening out.”

What is Greening Out?

"Greening out" is a state of physical discomfort and mental disorientation caused by ingesting too much cannabis. The symptoms of being too high vary from person to person. Green out symptoms include chills, sweating, nausea, dizziness, or increased heart rate. However, mental disorientation is the most common symptom of greening out. This disorientation may lead to anxiety for some individuals.

If you or a friend has greened out—meaning you are experiencing this adverse side effect—you probably want to know the answer to, “how long does greening out last?” and “how can you prevent greening out?”

How Long Does Greening Out Last?

How long greening out lasts will vary from person to person. The single most important factor affecting your cannabis experience is your unique endocannabinoid system. In many cases, greening out is brief, with many individuals experiencing green out symptoms for less than 20 minutes. However, if you eat an edible you could experience green out symptoms for up to several hours. 

As there is a mental component of greening out, it is best to try to engage yourself in a low-stress activity such as looking at a magazine, watching one of your favorite TV shows, or putting on a playlist that you love. Before you know it, your green out symptoms will be gone. 

How to Mitigate Weed Side Effects like Disorientation

Here are some general suggestions on how to mitigate side effects from cannabis, and then we will explore some specific suggestions about how to fix disorientation or greening out from too much weed.

<b>Try a new product<b>

Different cannabis products will contain different chemical compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes, which may exert distinct effects. Use Jointly’s Product Finder to discover new top-rated products.

<b>Try a new ingestion method<b>

Additionally, the way you ingest a product will change how it affects you. Smoking a joint of cannabis flower may produce slightly different effects from vaporizing it, although both ingestion methods involve heating cannabis and inhaling the active compounds.

Each ingestion method has its own advantages and may produce different effects or side effects. To learn how different weed ingestion methods produce different effects, read our article The Best Way to Take Cannabis for Wellness Purposes.

<b>Add in a companion food<b>

Did you know that weed companion foods can enhance your cannabis experience in different ways? Mangoes, dark chocolate, green tea, and thyme are all weed companion foods. Chemical compounds in these foods may alter your cannabis experience, and potentially mitigate adverse side effects like drowsiness. To learn about these foods and how to add them into your cannabis wellness routine, check out our article Do These Foods Get You Higher?

<b>Find your minimum effective dose<b>

Most adverse side effects from cannabis are caused by ingesting too high of a dose of THC. While you cannot die from ingesting too much cannabis, a THC overdose is a real risk. The single most effective way to mitigate side effects is to microdose and titrate up your dose until you find the minimum effective dose of cannabis to get the effect you want. <b>Turn the dials on 15 factors<b>

According to cannabis experts, there are at least 15 factors that can impact your cannabis experience and play a major role in whether a cannabis product is giving you the feeling you want, or producing adverse side effects like disorientation. Perhaps the amount of sleep you got last night impacts whether you experience disorientation from cannabis or not. Or maybe you will discover using cannabis with trusted friends prevents you from experiencing disorientation. The Jointly app lets you to track the 15 factors that can impact your cannabis experience. As you optimize how you consume cannabis, your favorite cannabis products will perform better for you.

How Can You Prevent Greening Out?

What can you do to avoid greening out from weed? Ingesting cannabis with CBD could mitigate some adverse side effects by buffering some of the psychoactive effects of THC. 

Additionally, on the days that you choose to consume cannabis, make sure you are well-hydrated, got plenty of sleep the night before, and ate a healthy diet. If you do all that and are still greening out, try microdosing. 

For some people, a 1mg microdose of THC might be the perfect dose to enjoy yourself without greening out. Don’t be afraid to break up a single serving into multiple servings: cannabis affects different people differently. Purposeful cannabis consumption involves experimenting and recording your results to find out what works for you as an individual.

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