Photo via iStock/ Tharakorn
This article originally published in 2017, but we wanted to resurface this still relevant favorite. May these tips serve you well!
Sometimes I get weed that makes my heart palpitate.... What’s up with that?
— Stressed-out Stoner
Cannabis should ideally affect you in the opposite manner, so the fact that you’re stressed out is no good. Let’s try and fix that, shall we? There are a couple of reasons you could be experiencing heart palpitations, so let’s explore those and ways to avoid it in the future!
The first culprit is probably the thing you like best about your cannabis: THC. THC is known for increasing your heart rate. It is a vasodilator (fancy word for saying it makes your blood vessels expand), which can lower your blood pressure which in turn causes your heart to speed up to compensate for the low pressure.
So, a little “buzz” going in your heart when you smoke is to be expected, but ideally, it shouldn’t be so fast or strong that it makes you freak out. If you’re able to, check the THC levels of your cannabis. If it’s high—for these purposes, I’d say 20 percent and higher—try and get some with lower THC levels (perhaps around 10 percent or lower) and see how that goes. Also, don’t smoke too much at once. Microdose by taking a hit or two and give your body some time to adjust to the THC. You can always smoke more, but you cannot put back what you’ve already inhaled.
If you don’t think the THC levels are the culprit, next you should next check the strain. Sativa strains tend to be more invigorating, which can sometimes mean faster heart rates and even possibly lead to an increase in anxiety, which of course could then cycle into a faster heartbeat, and so on. In addition to considering your THC levels, you might also want to try either an indica or indica-dominant hybrid strain and see how that impacts you versus sativas.
So, before you even smoke, remember these three things: 1) Check the percentage of THC. 2) Check the strain. 3) Smoke slow and steady.
We can also create a list of things you can do next time it occurs. If your heart begins racing, the first thing to do is stop smoking (don’t worry, you can always go back!). Then, drink a glass of water. Water will help increase your blood pressure, which will hopefully lower your heart rate. Take slow sips and try to drink a full glass. By slowly sipping your water, you can also lower any possible anxiety that may have creeped in as well.
If your heart begins racing, the last thing you want to do is panic. Try to distract yourself — listen to music, take a hot bath, watch some TV, paint, do yoga, try a puzzle, or text a friend. If you’re able to distract yourself for an hour or two, you should be able to make it through the worst of it and be fine (and no longer high) within a couple of hours.
I should also note that I am not a doctor. I would encourage you to go see one if you continue to have heart palpitations when you smoke (especially if it happens every single time, even after attempting to reduce possible cannabis-related causes). The body of scientific research regarding marijuana's effects on cardiovascular health is still sparse. While new studies and anecdotal cases suggest some possible benefits for heart health from cannabis, other experts and findings disagree. As much as we love the herb, results (and health effects) vary between users, so always be sure to seek medical advice if you experience an adverse reaction from weed — using cannabis isn't worth a broken heart.