It turns out that holding in your smoke after you’ve taken a puff to get ‘higher’ may be one of the biggest misconceptions about cannabis. What may have originally been some stoners idea has been debunked, as we now know that THC is absorbed through the lungs within milliseconds.
We’ve all done it though, believing that holding it in will help us get the most of each hit. Even challenges have come from this, sitting in a circle with your mates and each person trying to hold in their smoke until the joint completes its rotation.
How do Our Lungs Work?
However, science has put this belief to bed! The air we breathe is made up of about 20% oxygen. Our human lungs can only hold 6 litres of air per breath. Then when this air is exhaled, the escaping air holds around 15% oxygen. This shows that we’re not that efficient at absorbing oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide, which is why we breathe in a rhythmic fashion and don’t hold our breath to absorb as much oxygen as we cna.
These principals can also be applied to the act of smoking cannabis.
The Longer the Hold, the Higher the High
Our lungs have the ability to transfer gas, but only in small quantities at the nanosecond level. This happens almost instantly, which is why some sources state that 95% of all available THC is absorbed almost instantly.
It is possible that holding in your smoke will make your puff feel like it hits a little harder, all you’re really doing is making yourself slightly lightheaded because you’re starving your brain of oxygen. You then add carbon monoxide and toxins from combusting plant matter, and it will only heighten your lightheaded sensations.
Test if for Yourself
You can test these findings yourself. If you smoke tobacco, you can take a puff and hold it in like you would a joint. You’re likely to experience slight dizziness and tingling, despite the lack of cannabis.
If you don’t smoke tobacco, try this – sit on a chair with your legs parallel to one another. Grab your legs and lower your head between your knees. Take a couple of deep breaths, and exhale as far as you can and hold for as long as you can. Just before you take in a breath, sit upright once again and draw in a breath. If you do this intensely, this will make you feel dizzy and can even cause you to faint. So if you’ll be conducting this experiment, please do so with some supervision!
Then Why do I feel Like I Get Higher?
The longer you hold in your breath, the higher your heartbeat elevates. It’s now pumping blood faster through your body to compensate for low levels of oxygen. This compounds as you hold your breath as your body searches for oxygen that isn’t there.
So your body further reacts by releasing adrenaline, increasing the ‘high’ sensations. Another tell-tale sign of oxygen deprivation is tingling felt on the skin and face, which is often associated with being a little too goofed.
Depriving your brain and body of oxygen is never a smart idea, whether it’s related to cannabis or not. If you are chasing a high that you can no longer achieve, maybe it’s time to take a tolerance break!