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Monday September 28, 2015

By Abby Hutmacher


Anyone who’s ever experienced a bout of dizziness shortly after consuming marijuana knows how uncomfortable it can be. And, though the symptoms of marijuana-induced vertigo usually subside in just a few seconds, the experience can be scary enough to prompt someone to avoid cannabis in the future.

Perhaps a better approach would be to protect against another dizzy spell or at least reduce the likeliness that it will happen again. To do this, we have to understand what’s happening with marijuana-induced vertigo.

Why does marijuana make me dizzy?

User from Newton, MA

Vertigo, or the sensation of dizziness or a loss of balance, can be caused by a number of different things – inner ear problems, sensory nerve disturbances, migraines or anxiety, for example – but finding an accurate correlation between marijuana and vertigo has yet to be discovered.

Nevertheless, we know that THC causes dizziness for many users, with around 1/3 reporting severe symptoms. Some speculate the cause is related to a drop in blood pressure which slows the body’s ability to recover after an abrupt position change. Typically, blood pressure rises briefly after standing to compensate for gravity. When THC causes a drop in blood pressure, gravity can get the better of us, causing the dizzy sensation that so many have come to know.

Another theory is based on THC’s ability to modify sensory perception (our ability to perceive different sounds, sights, scents and other sensations). Typically, sensory nerves allow our brain to perceive our surroundings and modify our behavior accordingly in order to maintain balance. When these sensations are modified, our brains can have difficulty compensating quickly thus causing us to lose our balance or otherwise become disoriented.

Finally, extreme cases of anxiety can cause feelings of dizziness or disorientation. Though anxiety itself is psychological in nature (it occurs in the mind), it can have very real physical consequences such as increased heart rate, erratic breathing, fatigue and insomnia. Combined, these symptoms can cause disorientation as a lack of oxygen combines with weakened neurological processes. The results: a dizzy head and a confused mind, which can unfortunately be exacerbated by too much THC.

So how can I protect myself from marijuana-induced dizziness?

Though there is no sure-fire way to protect against marijuana-induced vertigo, there are some steps you can take to help reduce your chances of getting it. To start, remember to consume marijuana slowly, paying close attention to the dosage and potency of your product. This will help avoid over-consumption which can lead to marijuana-induced anxiety and potentially vertigo as well.

You should also try to remember to move slowly, especially when switching from a reclined to upright position. Remember that your body may take a few extra seconds to make up for the gravity pulling you back down so pace yourself by sitting up slowly.

Finally, remember that the sensations you’re feeling while high are only temporary. Colors may be brighter, sounds more vivid and edges more crisp, but such will only be the case for a few hours. Should dizzy sensations persist for more than a few days, it is important to consult your doctor as more serious issues may be at play. Though THC can remain in the body for multiple days, severe dizziness should not be the result.

Marijuana can cause the body to do some crazy things. Though many of the marijuana’s side effects are considered pleasant, others (like vertigo) are not. Protect yourself from marijuana-induced dizziness by understanding just what’s causing it.

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Photo Credit: The Mighty Tim Inconnu (license)


Abby Hutmacher Abby Hutmacher

Abby is a writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace designed to connect cannabis writers and creatives with businesses in the industry. She has been a professional cannabis writer since 2014 and regularly contributes to publications such as PotGuide and M&F Talent. She is also the Content Director at Fortuna Hemp, America’s leading feminized hemp seed bank. Follow Abby on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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