Performing a Marijuana Cleanse

Sometimes you need a break. For me, this was a break from smoking marijuana but not all out abstinence. But look, I get it – whatever the reason you decide to cleanse yourself of marijuana, it’s hard to figure out the best way to perform a marijuana cleanse. It’s important to note that marijuana cleansing is equally about the time you have to do it and the technique you choose.

Sometimes you need a break. For me, this was a break from smoking marijuana but not all out abstinence. But look, I get it – whatever the reason you decide to cleanse yourself of marijuana, it’s hard to figure out the best way to perform a marijuana cleanse. It’s important to note that marijuana cleansing is equally about the time you have to do it and the technique you choose.

The rise of employer drug testing in the 1980s brought about growth to an industry designed to mask marijuana, its metabolites, and many other substances. In addition to the increased usage of these masking agents, the popularity of marijuana cleansing and other drug cleansing products also increased, as well as the availability of both types of products.

The purpose of your marijuana cleanse

After coming down with a respiratory infection, my breathing was weak. The task of smoking anything quickly spiraled into an angered coughing fit. I decided I wanted to take a break from smoking – a choice that resulted in a transition from smoked cannabis to edibles, patches, topicals, or tinctures – and it was that choice that I created my cleanse around. Now, I realize that cleanse is a synonym for purge, expel, etc. but my marijuana cleanse was focused more on cleansing my respiratory system than cleansing marijuana out of my system entirely.

In order to figure out which of the marijuana cleansing techniques you should choose, first ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What result are you looking for?

  2. How long do you have to complete your marijuana cleanse?

    • 1 Day? 5 Days? A week? A month?
  3. At what price?

    • Do you want to use consumer products such as a cleansing kit or more of an “au natural” approach?
  4. Is it a routine thing?

    • Just once? Annually? Monthly?

Let’s take me as an example again. I realized that smoking caused irritation to my lungs while I was sick, and decided that I still wanted to use cannabis but smoking was off the table. Once I had figured out what my intention was, the next step of creating my marijuana cleanse plan was to look into the time frame.

How long was I wanting to quit?

I knew that this was temporary while I work through the illness, so the method I chose was a mix of high intensity, long duration exercise, a lot of water, and the use of saunas or steam rooms. Be careful, this approach will not work for everyone (see next section for the reason)

How marijuana is absorbed in the body changes how you eliminate it

To better understand the goals of marijuana cleansing, it is probably a good idea to explain how the active components of marijuana, or cannabinoids, attach to the cells in your body and what that means for cleansing.

Cannabinoids are fat-soluble

The way THC and other cannabinoids enter the brain is similar to the way any other substance enters the brain – through the blood-brain barrier. The fact that cannabinoids are fat-soluble (absorbed by fats) changes the way that your body can get rid of them and is therefore paramount when deciding what sort of marijuana cleansing methods are best suited for you.

Think of how much of a struggle it is for some people to lose weight, let alone burn fat easily. Marijuana cleansing is as much about getting it out of your system as it understanding how it affects your system. Remember that bold note just before this section? Well, this is why someone who has to pass a drug test may want to lay off the exercise. Allow me to explain:

When you exercise, you burn energy. We get energy from foods, which our bodies break down and either burn or store. When we use up all the readily available energy from our diet, our body will begin using stored fats to break down into energy. This is where the cannabinoids and their metabolites live so the energy you produce from the burning of fat will release stored cannabis metabolites into your body to be eliminated through the kidneys like most waste.

Being a fathead

If you didn’t know that the brain is a bunch of fat, now you do. Want to know how I know? Research, but mostly from this clip from Bill Nye I saw in 4th grade. So we know marijuana attaches to fat, and your brain is a bunch of fat, so is the brain also saturated in cannabinoids/ marijuana metabolites?

It’s a fair question and if the goal is to do a complete marijuana cleanse and be free of all the marijuana stored in your body, it’s a question that needs an answer. Luckily for us, a nifty barrier exists – a TSA for travel to your brain – the blood brain barrier! And yes, this regulatory function, in fact, is able to block storage of THC and other cannabinoids once in the brain, and we do it so well that less than 1% is even able to make the brain its home.

A moment of self-awareness

Before starting any marijuana cleanse, it is important to evaluate what effect stopping may have on your life. For heavy smokers, it is possible to experience things like cravings for a brief time. I found that just having a water bottle in hand was enough to wane the oral fixation and exercise is known to be a great habit replacement.

It is good practice to be aware of your own habits and behaviors before making changes to them. And depending on the individual, removing marijuana may have a huge effect on their life. I know I’d have less fun.

My recommendations:

  • Drink plenty of water: I cannot stress the importance of drinking water enough. We want all of our body’s internal processes to work as optimally as they can on their own; water is a good way to ensure we can use our internal resources as effectively as possible.
  • Try adding cayenne pepper to your food or drinks: Cayenne is great for stimulating the metabolism and working to restore gastrointestinal and liver nutrients that assist in the breakdown of harmful substances.
  • Avoid Sugar and high-fat foods: If you are eating a bunch of high-fat foods since marijuana’s active ingredients attach to fat, a diet rich in fats is not a recipe to cleanse yourself quickly. Similarly, the rate at which marijuana is able to be stored in the fatty tissues is faster than the rate you can break down high sugar foods; that is, the digestive process for high process foods takes longer than it does to store THC or any other metabolite.
  • Eat a high fiber, nutrient-rich diet: Any proper marijuana cleanse will suggest that you eat a wide variety of food to ramp up the total volume of nutrients available for the body to use in the detoxification process. Fiber provides sustainable energy for us as well as being the food source of all the helpful bacteria that exists in our gut. The bacteria in the gut respond to high fiber diets by assisting in the digestive process, which is great for cleanses.
  • Add lemon to your water: Similar to cayenne (and they go great together), lemon is great for stimulating liver function and can work as an antibacterial (great if, like me, you were sick). It’s also great for the immune system and is rich in vitamin C.
  • Include lean meats and plenty of vegetables: Lean meats like chicken or turkey are great with any method of marijuana cleansing you choose. This is kind of like the exact opposite of why you would avoid high fat and sugar foods. You want the lean meats and a good mix of veggies because they are low in fat, provide sustained energy, and provide a rich nutrient mix that can aid in reducing cravings, stimulate digestion, and even increase and stabilize the metabolism.
  • Drink your greens: Veggie juices are excellent for helping any marijuana cleanse regime. If that’s not your thing, even just a green tea can help you stimulate detoxification. Green tea is naturally full of anti-oxidants and vitamin C.
  • Exercise: If you are doing a marijuana cleanse for you and not for a drug test or a legal reason, exercise is really a key part of any cleansing process. Marijuana cleansing, in particular, offers a challenge because of how THC attaches to the fatty tissues. A good way to break down fatty tissues, you guess it, is good ol’ exercise. Cardio is key. Sweat is important, so the use of steam rooms and saunas is also something I encourage for any marijuana cleanse.

There is a variety of other marijuana cleansing methods you can choose from. From 7-Day Detox kits to kits that help you detox in a few days. The marijuana cleansing method you land on should be specific to your needs, goals, and timeline.