Thursday February 7, 2019

By Andrew Ward

Does Consuming Cannabis on an Empty Stomach Make You Higher? Health/Science

Do you feel stronger cannabis effects on an empty stomach? This is likely a question most have asked about countless foods, drinks and much more we consume in our lives. Often, we tend to wonder how different experiences would be when we don’t eat before consuming. Why that is the case is far from certain. Regardless, it is a topic long discussed. More often than not, these debates lack any conclusion and leave many to go off of their own experiences and anecdotal findings. PotGuide readers have asked us to address this situation and try to unearth a definitive answer on whether or not you get higher on an empty stomach. For those seeking such an outcome, there still isn’t a whole lot of concrete information. Nevertheless, we tried our best to provide some sort of answer.

The Debate with Little Data



Cannabis research lags pretty much across the board at this point. Significant points of concern surrounding patient care, mental health and scores of other pressing concerns lack the needed research due to the current prohibition in countries such as the United States. So, it should come with little surprise that research into the efficacy of consuming cannabis on an empty stomach remains minimal at this time. That said, the importance of the issue impacts several consumption experiences from the desired effect a patient needs to get through the day to how stoned someone wants to be out in the world.

To delve further into the discussion, we turn to where most go to diagnose our illnesses: the Internet.

In most cases, cannabis experts tell folks not to consume edibles on an empty stomach. The reasoning behind this rule, which some consider an essential point in edible consumption, is that edibles make a user feel effects longer and more substantially. While this is a commonly held belief, little to no actual evidence exists to prove it's true. In fact, some point towards certain studies to show that may not be the case at all.

In one case, The Prof of Pot pointed towards studies such as the 1999 study which found THC to delay digestion by almost 50 percent. Additionally, they highlighted a 2012 study which found that THC and CBD were absorbed quicker on empty stomachs compared to those who were well fed. That said, the Prof elaborated that total absorption of cannabinoids was higher in those that ate prior to consuming. They elaborated, "Although food did delay the time to peak concentrations, the actual levels were otherwise very similar."

Edibles
Studies have shown cannabinoids absorb faster on an empty stomach when eating edibles.

While much of the focus has centered on edibles, discussions around smoking and general consumption have been bandied about for years – extending well beyond the days of online forums. Thankfully, the last few years has at least given us a way to preserve this anecdotal information until a more accurate analysis can come in. For now, a quick scan of Reddit, Quora, Grass City and countless other forums fetch varying results. In one recent Reddit account, user throwthatweedawaynow gave their own first-hand experience in eating a 250mg edible on an empty stomach. In their short live update, they had noted an improved sense of taste and developed a newfound appreciation for sausage. So, take that as you may.

The Empty Stomach Debate Beyond Cannabis

The effects of an empty stomach are often brought up when discussing a person’s vice of choices. Alcohol consumption and hunger have long been discussed. That includes a 1993 study of nine participants, six men and three women. Researchers tested subjects’ drinking during a full stomach and after a few hours of going hungry, with the tests separated by one week. Unsurprisingly, the data found that the effects of alcohol took longer to react on subjects who had recently eaten, while the overall level of consumption remained the same throughout all scenarios – much like cannabis.

Alcohol
Alcohol effects also come on quicker when consuming on an empty stomach. photo credit

For coffee and tea lovers, an empty stomach's effect on caffeine absorption can leave some feeling sick to their stomachs, with achey heads or jittery limbs. In some cases, physicians have gone so far as to suggest drinking coffee in the mid-morning or early afternoon rather than straight out the gate in the morning. Dr. Adam Simon told Express in 2017 that consuming caffeine on an empty stomach can lead to damaged stomachs and mood changes as well. This may one day prove true that those people that say you shouldn't talk to them until they've had their coffee are actually accurate.

Even sex has come into question. The common perception seems to be that unlike most other things, you should engage in the act of coitus on an empty stomach. With the amount of energy it takes the body to digest a meal, a person’s stamina may be diverted from what it takes to meet the demands of their partner(s). Plus, a full stomach potentially leaves a person feeling bloated, tired and not looking how they may want to when it’s time to get to business.

What to Do with Weed?

In this writer’s case, situations vary. Empty stomachs and the rest of the day’s factors certainly play into how your high will turn out. While an edible seems to be the method of consumption most likely to impact you on an empty stomach, conflicting data and personal reports leave us with no clear answers.

Instead, approach edibles or any consumption method the same whether fully fed or starving: start low and go slow. Pacing out doses is always wise, even if the products come from reputable brands. That said, fight the urge to gorge on edibles if you do go in with an empty stomach. Have a non-THC snack in hand. Bonus points if you have CBD on hand nearby. If the adverse effects of an empty stomach high kick in, a CBD product may help offset the negative effects. Either way, consume safely, friends.


Do you think consuming cannabis on an empty stomach increases effects? Why or why not? Share your experiences below!


Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. Andrew has covered the cannabis industry for publications like AOL and Cannabis Culture. He is also an avid screenwriter, fantasy soccer fanatic, and aspiring world traveler.


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