If you’ve recently smoked a cannabis strain high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), there is a possibility a drug test will reveal the psychoactive cannabinoid in your system. It may be detectable in urine, blood, or even hair, though employers are unlikely to sample the latter in drug screenings.
If you’re looking for effective ways to remove THC from the body before taking a drug test, you’re likely going to be disappointed. There is no quick and easy way to rid your system of marijuana, but it’s helpful to know why that is. In this guide to detoxing from THC, we’ll examine the facts and myths about cannabis, drug testing, and what you should be aware of if you’re concerned about taking a drug test in the future.
What is detoxification?
Detoxification is the removal of a toxic substance from the body, either by some outside means or waiting for a drug to clear the bloodstream on its own. In general, it is healthier and safer to allow the THC from marijuana to leave the body unassisted, as opposed to toxic drugs such as cocaine or heroin for which there are medications to facilitate detoxification.
How long does it take to detox from THC?
The psychoactive effects of THC may last fewer than two hours, but the compound or its byproducts, called THC metabolites, can remain in the body for a significant amount of time — 30 days or longer by most accounts. This lengthy residence makes detoxing from THC a challenge, but let’s consider the most common methods used to manipulate THC levels and eliminate cannabis products from the body.
HOW LONG DOES CANNABIS STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM?
The length of time cannabis stays in your system is affected by your unique biology and habits. While everyone is different, cannabis is usually detectable in fluids like urine and saliva from 1–30 days after last use. It may be detectable in hair for months.
THC is metabolised in the liver, where it gets broken down into over 80 metabolites. Eventually, THC and its metabolites are excreted, leaving your system. However, many of these compounds linger in your system longer than THC itself. Most drug tests are designed to detect certain metabolites, like tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THC-COOH).
What is the fastest way to detox for a drug test?
There’s a lot of bunk information out there with quick fixes for detoxing. Most are bogus and will not accomplish results. Some faulty “fast” weed detox methods to avoid include:
- Cranberry juice
- Detox teas
- Niacin detox
- Bleach (do not, under any circumstances, ingest bleach)
Most quick fix methods are based in myth and should not be trusted. Don’t default to questionable and unreliable methods. If you’re wondering how to pass a drug test for cannabis without taking a cleansing break, know that detoxification is a lengthy process. No vitamin, juice, tea, or chemical will magically flush the body of cannabis overnight or in a short period of time.
How to pass a drug test naturally
The best weed detox method will always be a natural cleanse. Although it takes the longest, it is by far the most thorough and effective. There are several methods of natural detox, all of which may be used in conjunction. Most are pleasurable and good for the body, making them positive habits to practice for good health whether detoxing or not. Consider the following for an all-natural detox experience.
This is pretty obvious, but in order to detox from marijuana, it will be necessary to halt all consumption of cannabis. Whether you choose to go cold turkey or ease into it, the process of detoxification cannot truly begin until cannabis is fully out of the picture.
First and foremost on the list is to get up and move. THC is stored in fat cells of the body. For those who have more fat, it will take longer to detox. Exercise such as cardio and weight training will help burn fat and increase metabolism, thus speeding up the detox process.
A happy bonus to exercise will be an increase in production of anandamide, which is the body’s natural “bliss” molecule. If you’ve ever experienced a “runner’s high,” you know the euphoric sensation this endocannabinoid provides. Exercise will help decrease detectable cannabinoids in your body while simultaneously smoothing the transition with endocannabinoids.
BODY FAT AND OVERALL METABOLIC RATE
THC is detectable for longer in chronic users because THC metabolites get stored in fat cells (they are lipid soluble). A person with less body fat will store fewer of these molecules, and a person with more body fat will store more. That’s why sex can sometimes be a factor as well. Females tend to have more body fat than males, so women may metabolise cannabinoids more slowly.
A person’s overall metabolic rate also plays a large role. Some people can burn calories just by sitting around, while others struggle to lose weight even with an active lifestyle. Those with a faster metabolism will process and eliminate cannabinoid metabolites more quickly. Just be aware, if you exercise heavily before a drug test, the fat you burn could release more THC metabolites into your system, causing a temporary spike.
How is THC Metabolized by the Body?
When an individual smokes weed or consumes foods or edibles containing weed, they are metabolized into Δ9 THC molecules, the active form of the ‘high-causing’ THC, which are then transported into the blood.
These molecules are then transported into the liver, where they are converted into the inactive form and stored in adipose (body fat) tissues. With time, these molecules are gradually excreted from the body via urine and feces.
How Long Does Weed Stay in Your System?
THC can be detected in hair, urine, blood, and saliva using a drug test. The table below shows for how long THC remains detectable in the body.
|Type of Test||Period of Detection|
|Urine||3 to 4 days since last useMore sensitive tests can detect THC for up to 7-21 days|
|Hair||Approximately 90 days after use|
|Saliva||72 hours after use|
|Blood||Up to 7 days for very heavy users|
Factors that Impact THC Removal From The Body
There are several factors, modifiable and unmodifiable, that impact the removal of THC from the body. They include:
- Gender – females metabolize THC comparatively slower than males, mostly because of the higher levels of body fat. Since THC is stored in fats, women will store higher amounts and take more time to completely remove it from their system.
- Frequency of Use – the more the consumption, the longer it will take for THC to be removed from the system and the longer its detection window.
- The potency of Weed – higher concentrations of THC will require more time to be metabolized and excreted from the system.
- Method of Consumption – as compared to smoking/vaping, edibles take longer to be removed from the body.
- Lung Capacity (for smoking and vaping) – the amount of weed inhaled, and how long you can hold your breath after every puff determines how much THC will enter and stay in your system.
- Body Fat or Body Mass Index (BMI) – as mentioned earlier, a higher percentage of body fat means more time to metabolize and remove cannabis.
- Metabolism – this is influenced by age, exercise, and health conditions. However, the faster metabolism, the faster THC removal