It’s not always that you get a racing heart after lighting up, but occasionally, you will.
For those who have experienced it the feeling is can be frightening, especially if you had expected the weed to calm you down.
You may even find yourself rushing to the ER. Getting yourself acquainted with why this happens will give you a head start in getting those palpitations under control.
A note on palpitations
You have palpitations when you can “feel your heart thumping in your chest.” This usually occurs when blood supply to vital organs has diminished for one reason or the other.
When this happens, the heart has to work harder to continue supplying blood where it is needed.
It is this increased effort by the heart that makes you feel as if your heart is racing. Medically speaking, this is called palpitations.
High THC strains
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in weed is the first culprit that may cause palpitations. THC is a vasodilator which is just a fancy term for saying it causes blood vessels to expand.
When this happens, blood pressure in the vessels is lowered and blood supply to vital organs is diminished.
THC activates the CB1 receptors in the brain and this increases the heart rate by 20-50 beats per minute.
This happens to counter the diminishing BP and helps the heart keep up with oxygen supply demands. Eventually, it results in a racing heart.
Some reports indicate that high THC strains may increase the work of the heart by 30 %.
If you notice that you are getting frequent palpitations after having some weed, rule out high THC strains fast.
You opt for strains with less than 10% THC such as Euphoria and Special Kush. The other option is micro-dosing.
This is when you take very small amounts of weed at regular intervals.
This way, you get to enjoy the benefits of THC while avoiding its psychoactive effects.
Sativas are known to be more invigorating and energizing. Sativa dominant strains, for this reason, are more prone to giving you palpitations.
If you notice that you get palpitations frequently, consider the kind of strain that you are taking.
You may be surprised to find a link between Sativa dominant strains and your palpitations. If this is the case, consider adjusting to indica strains or balanced hybrid strains.
Taking too much potent weed
As much as THC should have relaxing effects on your body and mind, taking too much of it can do the opposite.
Some people begin toking and get carried away by the pleasant sensations that they tend to overindulge.
This happens especially when one is using dabs and concentrates such as wax, hash oil and shatter. The situation is worse when the person had taken alcohol prior.
In this case, the absorption of THC would even be higher. This will cause the heart to beat faster in order to counter the effects of the fast-rising THC levels.
Lastly, some people are naturally predisposed to heart palpitations. This can be due to underlying heart conditions or hypersensitivity to some compounds.
If you happen to be one of them, steer clear of high THC strains or strong sativas. You made also want to “advance judiciously” each time that you are toking.
This way, you will be able to control the effects and stop when you need to.
How to reduce heart rate after smoking weed
Do not panic
As much as this may be difficult, it is one of the most useful tips that you can practice. Try to be calm and wait for the palpitations to reduce.
Panicking will only worsen the situation be further increasing your heart rate.
Practice some relaxation techniques
As soon as you notice your heart racing get out to some fresh air and try natural remedies to calm your heart.
This may include the good old “breath in-breath out” technique. If you are a yoga enthusiast a few poses may be all you need to calm your heart down.
Lying down in a place that is well ventilated may also prove helpful. The bottom line here is, get out and relax.
Water is good for building up your blood volume which will result in increased blood pressure. Remember that THC causes vasodilation and decreased blood pressure.
So taking water will help in restoring BP and reducing palpitations. Sipping water also helps in reducing anxiety.
Stimulating the vagus nerve
Some people swear by this technique. The vagus nerve links the brain to the heart, when it is stimulated it can help to calm down the heart and reduce palpitations.
This can be done practically by:
- Forcing yourself to gag
- Placing ice cubes on your face for a few seconds
- Holding your breath as you pretend to be making a bowel movement
- Coughing gently
- Splashing cold water on your face
There are a few other techniques that you can use to stimulate the vagus nerve. Trying a few of these may help in slowing down your racing heart.
At the end of the day, rest assured that this is normal and happens either due to high THC levels, potent Sativa strains or overindulgence.
As the effects of the weed begin to wear out, the palpitations will also disappear.
For a regular user, expect the palpitations to stop within 4 hours or so.
A last word of caution
Should you be suffering from a heart condition you may need to rush to the ER when you get palpitations.
First, you need to rule out any other reason apart from the ones mentioned above that may be giving you the symptoms.
Secondly, THC in and of itself does not cause fatal eventualities. But should there be an underlying heart condition the situation may quickly get out of control.
Hey there! I’m Daniel. A Ph.D. in pharmacology and an owner of Green Fleets (former THC Detox). My mission is to help people pass drug tests and get their dream job.
My research into cannabis shows how cannabis affects health, including how cannabinoids can be used in the treatment of various diseases.