Cannabis convention tells us that when we smoke a joint or hit the bong, we are supposed to hold our breath for as long as possible. If you prefer to vape, you might practice the same methodology when you inhale. The longer the inhale and hold, the better the high.
It’s been the how to smoke weed mantra for decades.
The longer we hold the smoke, deep in the bottom of our respiratory tract, the more THC we absorb. A new theory says otherwise. Have we been smoking weed wrong this whole time?
We know a lot more about cannabis today than we did when smokers were starting the deep breath-holding. There is new research on how cannabis and compounds like THC and CBD work with the lungs.
So, it’s time to start smoking differently.
What Happens When You Breath in Smoke
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, and stop wasting weed, learn to inhale differently. What do we mean by differently? First, let’s have a quick science lesson.
Picture the journey of cannabis smoke as you take a big inhale. The smoke travels down your throat, through the trachea, and then at the bronchial split heads deep into each lung. Each lung contains 150 to 250 million alveoli cells, which are tiny biological gas exchanges.
It’s these tiny gas exchanges which absorb the smoked (or vaped) cannabinoids into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream, THC and the other molecules, get to work traveling to the various endocannabinoid receptors spread throughout the body.
THC tends to find its way into the brain, to connect with the concentration of CB1 receptors located there. As THC binds to CB1, you’ll start to experience the psychoactive effects.
This entire journey from a deep breath in, through the respiratory system, up into the bloodstream, to end in the brain takes mere minutes. Although sometimes the delay can take longer (upwards of 15 minutes), most will feel something in a relatively short period of time.
The kicker of this biology lesson? The time between inhaling to absorption into the bloodstream is almost instantaneous. So that entire time you’ve been holding your breath after a bong hit? Totally unnecessary.
Your Body Is Quick to Absorb THC and Other Cannabinoids
Do all smokable cannabinoids absorb just as easily? From what the research shows us, our body seems specially adapted to work with cannabinoids. Other chemicals, let’s say from tobacco smoke, don’t travel as fast nor absorb as instantaneously.
As we know, the connection THC forms within our brains with the CB1 receptor is why it feels intoxicating. It’s also what is responsible for the many possible medicinal benefits.
How to Smoke, the New and Improved Way
With this new knowledge about what happens once you inhale, how should we smoke weed in 2019? Inhaling a big deep pull from the bubbler or vape pen, and holding it, doesn’t deliver more cannabinoids.
In fact, it might waste all that expensive premium bud.
If you inhale and hold, technically you are holding the breath in the space between the mouth and the bronchial split – which is before the lungs themselves. The smoke doesn’t truly absorb into the bloodstream unless it’s in the lungs, which it’s likely not. Holding the smoke is wasting your breath and wasting the valuable THC.
So what now?
Here is a new way to smoke cannabis, to get every last drop out of your medicine:
- Light up the bubbler, bong, pipe, or spliff. If you are vaping, ready the vape pen!
- Take a deep, slow breath in from the mouthpiece. Slowly inhale the smoke or vapor. The slower, the better.
- Just before you run out of breath, pull away from the bong (or vaporizer) and continue to inhale fresh air.
- Exhale slowly.
Why Adding Clean Air Works
With this technique, you add clean oxygen on top of the cannabis smoke or vapor. This new fresh air forces the cannabinoids deeper into your respiratory tract, meaning more access to those gas exchanging alveoli.
If anything spills out of the lungs, it’ll just be fresh air and not smoke or vapor. No wasted medicine! Remember air is free, weed isn’t.
A New Way to Inhale Your Medicine
If you are only a casual smoker, you might want to wait a moment while this new type of inhaling takes effect. After all, you might feel those powerful intoxicating effects much more quickly (and strongly) now than before.
Under the old long hold method, much of the medicine was wasted. With the new technique outlined above, much more of the THC is headed into the bloodstream. Any beginners out there may want to consider waiting 10 minutes after the first inhale before the next.
Have you tried smoking weed this way? What about a side by side comparison on which type of inhalation works best? Yes, the research tells us we shouldn’t hold cannabis smoke in our respiratory tract, but we’d love to hear about how this works for all of you in practice. Tell us about your experience and best practices!