Media, music, and peer pressure might have you feeling like you’d be cooler if you smoke marijuana, and according to scientific research, that’s actually true.
Yes, cannabis makes you cooler – or colder, rather. When we talk about the side effects of cannabis, the most common culprits are munchies (hunger), cotton mouth (dry mouth and sometimes eyes), and couch lock (tired and lazy). It might go unnoticed, but feeling a bit chilly and even getting some goosebumps on your arms are actually very common physical side effects of cannabis use. Is cannabis actively making your body temperature drop or is there something else going on? Why exactly does cannabis make you colder?
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A little bit about THC
There are A LOT of compounds in the cannabis plant, and so far, 113 cannabinoids have been isolated and named. In this article, we’ll be discussing the most well-known, abundant, and controversial one – Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. In a way, THC has become synonymous with cannabis itself, as when most people refer to cannabis, pot, weed, etc., they’re usually talking about “marijuana”, which the THC-dominant variety. For reference, cannabis grown with high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) instead of THC, is called Hemp.
Now back to THC. Since this cannabinoid, and most of its known analogues, will produce psychoactive effects, it has been banned in most countries. So far, only 2 countries in the world have full legalization of cannabis – Uruguay and Canada, the latter being the only one out of those two with a structured and developed retail market.
In the United States, it’s illegal at the federal level, listed as a Schedule 1 narcotic. However, laws regarding medical and recreational access are at the discretion of the states and cities. For example, both medical and recreational cannabis are legal in the state of California, but individual cities can still ban cannabis-business within their limits. This applies to large cities like San Diego, and smaller residential areas like Temecula, and many, many more.
Regardless of its psychoactivity and surrounding politics, THC does a lot more than just get people “stoned”. It has some very real and incredibly powerful medical benefits including pain relief, brain regeneration, and treatment for PTSD and depression – and apparently, it’s the THC in cannabis that makes you colder as well.
Studies on the therapeutic power of THC have been going on for decades. In 1964, THC was isolated for the first time by Israeli chemist and Professor, Raphael Mechoulam. It was the very first cannabinoid to be extracted from the plant and studied. This breakthrough marked the beginning of an era of cannabis research, leading to the discovery of other cannabinoids and compounds, as well as the human endocannabinoid system. All this eventually brought forth progressive laws throughout the world and an entire culture built around recreational cannabis use.
Does THC make you colder?
Obviously, the answer to this question is yes, or else I wouldn’t be here writing about this; but how does it work, and is it a good thing or a bad thing? The phenomenon of cannabis making one colder is known as THC-induced hypothermia, but no, it’s not dangerous like clinical hypothermia, where the body temperature can reach threateningly cold levels Simplified, THC-induced hypothermia means you might feel a bit chilly after smoking.
A certain cell receptor, the TRPA-1 receptor, is though to be responsible for this reaction. The TRPA-1 receptor has quite a few functions such as regulating pain, inflammation, and temperature. The dictionary definition is as follows: “Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels are a group of membrane proteins involved in the transduction of a plethora of chemical and physical stimuli. These channels modulate ion entry, mediating a variety of neural signaling processes implicated in the sensation of temperature, pressure, and pH, as well as smell, taste, vision, and pain perception.”
Cannabinoids are not the only compounds in nature to activate this particular receptor. It’s believed that spicy foods, or those containing caryophyllenes. The theory is that, when you consume something spicy, get a fever, etc., this receptor is activated and causes your body to cool down, eliminating much of the pain and discomfort. There are many other reported benefits of cold exposure and slightly reduced body temperatures as well.
Does it also make you hotter?
If you just finished reading that and are sitting there thinking to yourself, “that’s weird, because whenever I smoke pot I feel hotter”; well, you might be right too. Although researchers found that cannabis does impact the TRPA-1 receptor, additional studies suggest that our favorite herb might have much more complicated and profound effects on body temperature.
One scientific review found that in low doses, the active compounds in cannabis can actually cause hyperthermia, or a temporary rise in body temperature. So basically, smoking more will make you cooler, while taking just a few hits could help warm you up if needed. Also, noteworthy, coughing can briefly elevate your body temperature as well, and some people cough a lot when they smoke, which contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with how experienced a smoker is.
Health benefits of cold exposure
I could go into all the detailed evidence and scientific research behind all this, but I’ll spare you. Instead, just look no further than the infamous Wim Hoff, a Dutch extreme athlete aptly nicknamed “The Iceman”. Wim Hoff has broken numerous records relating to cold exposure such as running a barefoot marathon in the Arctic Circle, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, and standing in a container completely covered in ice cubes for almost 2 hours.
Through his training, Wim Hof developed a therapeutic technique that combines a specific breathing pattern with minimal cold exposure such as cold showers. This technique, knows as the Wim Hof method, is said to connect us with our natural environment while offering us a number of different health benefits.
For example, research indicates that cold exposure can speed up your metabolism, help to control blood circulation, improve sleep quality, lower stress and anxiety, heighten focus, and boost the immune system. People who use cold therapy also report relief of symptoms caused by autoimmune diseases. It’s also well-known to help reduce inflammation, swelling, and soreness. This is why ice packs and ice baths are front-line methods of pain reduction following an injury.
The rise of Delta 8 THC
Smoking cannabis is not your only way to get THC… There are new DELTA 8 products (different from the regular Delta 9 THC products), which you can even get online. These Delta 8 THC products, often refered to as “THC Lite”, are rapidly becoming a very popular choice among THC users, looking for a more easy alternative that is less heavy on the mind.
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In short, cannabis is complicated – it can make you both colder and hotter, but it seems that increases in body temperatures are more brief than decreases. Cold exposure can have many medical benefits and it’s one of the most natural things you can do to improve your health. Cannabis is wildly therapeutic, and it seems that we can add thermoregulation to the list of effects.