Why Does Weed Make You Cough More & Does Coughing Get You Higher?
Photo by Kampus Production
From the perspective of weed smokers, a cough is not uncommon while smoking. But why does weed make you cough?
Of the millions of pot smokers worldwide, 29% of active marijuana smokers said they experienced coughing as a side effect. Even though a weed cough can be disconcerting the first time, it’s not a symbol of broader health problems.
In this guide, we discuss the weed smoker cough and whether coughing could actually make you higher.
What is Weed Cough?
Weed cough is a common phenomenon among weed smokers, as it is with tobacco smokers. It’s a common side effect of smoking anything because the lungs were not designed to handle any form of smoke.
Various side effects can arise from smoking marijuana. For example, one cross-sectional study found an 18-24% increased prevalence of chronic coughing. It also found up to a 26% increase in sputum production and a 37% increase in wheeze. Note that this study also incorporated tobacco smokers.
Although studies have shown that a smoker’s cough from weed isn’t uncommon, why does weed make you cough?
Every time you smoke any substance, the chemicals you are inhaling can lead to inflammation within your airways. All types of smoking will adversely impact the cilia (tiny hairs) that line the airway. Your cilia are required to clear your airways.
Additionally, your airways will produce more mucus than usual. Your body responds to these changes by initiating the coughing reaction.
Remember, your lungs cannot differentiate between a harmful substance like tobacco smoking and the benefits of marijuana.
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Why Does Weed Make You Cough?
Are you wondering, “Why do I cough when I smoke weed?” Even though we’ve gone through the basic factors, many influencers are at play.
Here’s a breakdown of why a smoker’s cough weed is so common:
- Irritation – Smoke can irritate your respiratory system, especially the throat and lungs. The smoke and the heat from smoking can result in irritation that triggers the cough reflex.
- Inhaling Irritants – When smoking cannabis, the combustion process produces different byproducts, including particulate matter. Why does weed make you cough up black stuff? This is a potential byproduct of your joint and is nothing to be concerned about.
- Allergies – Some people may experience allergic reactions to marijuana, which can trigger coughing. According to the Dalgarno Institute, 73% of the 50 million Americans with allergies react to marijuana.
- High-Potency Products – Consuming high-potency products like oils or dabs can tax the respiratory system. Those unaccustomed to high THC products are likelier to experience coughing.
- Deep Inhalation – Taking deep and long drags of your joint could also lead to coughing. When you inhale deep, you increase the heat and irritants that enter your respiratory system.
In other words, it has nothing to do with THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids. Instead, it’s the act of smoking itself. However, it’s vital to note that not everyone experiences a cough. It often depends on individual tolerance, how you consume cannabis, and your overall health.
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk
Does Indica Make You Cough More Than Sativa?
Coughing after smoking weed can make you feel like one type of weed afflicts you more than another. In a sense, this is true, but it has little to do with Sativa vs. Indica.
Instead, other factors contribute to coughing that gives the false impression that Indica or Sativa is likelier to make you cough than the other.
Let’s examine some factors that could impact coughing in the 16% of Americans who smoke weed.
The first reason why you may experience coughing is how you choose to consume weed. Smoking cannabis will always involve the combustion of the plant material. It’s the presence of hot smoke and other irritants that could result in coughing.
The same applies to vaping or consuming products like oils and dabs.
Product quality makes a massive difference to your smoking experience. It’s natural to experience more phlegm from smoking bongs, but a high-quality product shouldn’t send you into coughing fits.
Low-quality cannabis that has been poorly cured and contains impurities has a higher chance of irritating your respiratory system. It’s why cannabis quality is such a big issue, with a Canadian national survey revealing that 76% of marijuana smokers said quality and safety were their top priorities.
THC potency can also be a factor. Why does weed make you cough? It could be a case of smoking a high-THC strain, regardless of whether it’s Indica or Sativa.
Large amounts of THC have a higher chance of causing you to cough because the product is more potent. This is also one of the reasons why dabbing and cannabis oils commonly lead to coughing.
Some people can smoke high-THC strains without worrying about coughing. If you ask, “Why do I cough so much when I smoke weed?” it could be an issue with your tolerance.
Everyone has a different tolerance level, which can be determined by factors like:
- Past usage
- Body weight
Generally, more frequent cannabis smokers have higher tolerance levels, reducing the side effects of smoking weed.
Photo by Oka Bemby
Vaping vs. Smoking
Did you know that vaping doesn’t rely on plant matter combustion?
Vaping cannabis means heating the plant to release the active compounds within gently. Generally, vaping is considered to be less harsh on the lungs and throat when compared to smoking.
Do You Get Higher From Coughing?
Although it sounds like an urban myth, coughing can make you higher. Many veteran weed smokers will even purposely cough to increase their high. However, does coughing get you higher safely?
This is where personal tolerance and good judgment come to the fore. Ramping up how high you are can have short and long-term effects.
- Uncoordinated movements
- Lower reaction time
- Sensory distortion
- Memory loss
- Lung issues
Why Does Coughing Make You Higher?
Now you know the answer to the question, “Does coughing make you higher?” why is this the case?
Firstly, coughing makes you light-headed. This is why veteran pot smokers often cough to make themselves feel lighter.
From a scientific point of view, coughing induces a syndrome called Cough Syncope. After a coughing fit, you feel faint and light-headed. This is because each time you cough, your muscles force oxygen out of your body. Longer coughing fits can also cut off oxygen intake to the body.
In other words, coughing while high results in minor oxygen deprivation that makes you feel light-headed.
Another reason is that coughing can spread out the smoke in your lungs. Each time you cough, the cough takes up more of the surface area of the lung tissues. The additional surface area allows THC and other cannabinoids to reach more areas of your lungs.
With more THC content in the blood and your body’s alveoli, you are guaranteed to get higher than usual. In this case, coughing acts as a catalyst to increase how much THC reaches your bloodstream.
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk
How to Get Rid of Weed Cough
Why does weed make you cough more than cigarettes? In truth, it doesn’t. But many people assume it does because they often use the wrong products or consume cannabis in a sub-optimal way.
Like tobacco smoking, various home remedies exist to eliminate that chronic cough – or at least lessen its effects. Here are a selection of tips for mitigating your cough.
1. Vape Instead of Smoke
By far, the best prevention method is to vape weed instead of smoking it. Inhaling anything burned up by combustion will never be good for your lungs. When you burn plant material, you’re not only inhaling cannabinoids but also carbonized agents and other toxins.
On the other hand, vaping your cannabis means no burning. Instead, your vaporizer will increase the air temperature enough to sublimate your cannabis into a vapor. Now you can enjoy the benefits of cannabis without the effects of combustion.
2. Drink an Infused Tea
Traditional medicine still has its place. Drinking infused teas has been a method for curing minor ailments for thousands of years.
If your cough is getting you down, infuse some tea with lemon and honey. You can also add some thyme and sage to increase its healing properties.
The warm concoction will dissolve the phlegm and other substances building up in your throat. Lemon and honey are also natural antioxidants and detoxifying agents, helping your throat to heal.
3. Sleep Elevated
Most people find that their coughs are at their worst when they wake up in the morning. This principle has long been recommended for addressing cold and flu symptoms, but it also works with marijuana coughs.
When sleeping horizontally, mucus flows into your sinus cavity, exposing your lungs. With your cilia exposed, they become more sensitive to almost everything, meaning you may wake yourself up with a coughing fit.
Adding an extra pillow or two to elevate your head is a simple trick that works.
4. Eat Ginger
Ginger is often classified as a superfood. It can be eaten dry, wet, raw, or steeped as ginger tea.
You can use it for both wet and dry coughs. Additionally, it acts as a potent anti-inflammatory because of the gingerol inside. This substance inhibits the production of cytokines, which play an essential role in your immune system’s messaging system.
5. Gargle Salt Water
Gargling salt water is a tried-and-tested memory for wet coughs and sore throats. The gargling creates vibrations in your body and turbulence, which helps clear out mucus adhering to the inside of your throat.
You don’t need to swallow the salt water. Just the act of gargling it alone is enough to clear out your cough.
Photo by Gustavo Fring
6. Drink Water and Exercise
Drinking more water benefits your overall health and a lingering cough. More water supports your body in overcoming the inflammation. It also helps you to expel any remaining toxins from your body because this is what the body uses for this mechanism.
Adding exercise to the mix is even better. Firstly, you’re forced to take deeper breaths, which gives your lungs a workout and spreads the phlegm evenly, encouraging your body to produce less.
Sweating can also help your body to reduce and eliminate the toxins in your body. This is also why ginger comes highly recommended.
Find the Strain that Makes You Cough Less – Apply for an MMJ Card Today!
Why does weed make you cough? It’s a natural by-product of the act of smoking, and there is nothing that you can do to avoid it. But with practiced home remedies and selecting suitable strains, you can mitigate the impact of coughing.
At Green Health Docs, we support you in applying for your online MMJ card. Discover if you’re eligible for a medical marijuana card online for your state by contacting our team today.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Anand Dugar, an anesthesiologist, pain medicine physician and the founder of Green Health Docs. Graduating from medical school in 2004 and residency in 2008, Dr. Dugar has been a licensed physician for almost 20 years and has been leading the push for medical cannabis nationwide.