The Infamous Cannabis Cough, and How to Avoid It
A few tips to reduce coughing next time you consume.
It’s happened to the best of us; you’re taking in a deep puff from a vape pen or preroll, and not too soon after your hit, the coughing commences. While coughing comes with the territory of cannabis smoking, you’re certainly within your rights to figure out how to tamp it down whenever possible. Fortunately, there are several tactics that cannabis smokers can use to reduce coughing fits. But before we get into those, we just want to answer one question.
Do I get Higher if the Cannabis make me Cough More?
The short answer: no.
The long answer: While there are a series of potent strains like Raspberry Cough, Strawberry Cough and, quite simply, The Cough, neither theirs or any other strain will make you higher the longer and stronger you cough. That’s because cannabinoids are absorbed into the body extremely quickly after you inhale — only a few seconds will do it. Because of that, it’s not necessary to hold in your smoke for very long. As a matter of fact, the longer you hold the smoke in your lungs, the more irritated the airways in your lungs may become. So you owe it to yourself, if you’re trying to avoid “hacking up a lung,” to exhale in a normal fashion.
What's Behind the Cough
Similar to cigarette smoke, cannabis smoke can irritate the throat and lungs, according to the NIH website, which can lead to coughs and in some cases, to chronic bronchitis. In either case, expect more phlegm and coughs, even if you’re a once-a-week user. However, even the studies the NIH has consulted in both animals and humans have not found a tie between cannabis use and emphysema, and ties to lung cancer have yet to be conclusively proven. A 2023 study in the journal Respiratory Medicine found, “By 30 years of age, those who have smoked cigarettes since the adolescent period already show evidence of impairment of lung function. By 30 years of age, those who have used cannabis ever since the adolescent period do not appear to have evidence of impaired lung function. Co-use of tobacco and cannabis does not appear to predict lung function beyond the effects of tobacco use alone. … Cannabis use does not appear to be related to lung function even after years of use.”
That said, even devoted cannabis users can employ some ways to reduce coughing. With that in mind, here are few tips to make sure your next cannabis session goes down as smoothly.
Start Slow and Low
Everybody is different, so it’s important, especially if you’re just starting out with smoking, to find your level. So just like with edibles, it’s important to “start low, and go slow” — your lungs will thank you for it. It’s also a good idea to wait a few minutes between puffs to give your lungs a break.
Use a Vaporizer
Vaporizing herb is used frequently by medical cannabis patients, and for good reason. Whether you’re using a desktop or a portable device, the result produces a clean, smooth vapor that is easier on the lungs and throat. Vaporizers also allow for more precise dosing, which can help you avoid taking too much at once.
Many cannabis smokers can attest to the dehydration experienced immediately after inhalation. Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after smoking can help soothe your throat and reduce the chances of coughing fits. Other hydrating drinks, such as herbal tea or coconut water, can also take the edge off of the smoke irritation.
Use a Cough Drop or Lozenge
Smokers in general have used drops and lozenges to help reduce coughing fits. Cough drops and lozenges contain ingredients such as menthol, eucalyptus, and honey, which can help soothe the throat and reduce coughing.
Cannabinoids against Coughing
Interestingly enough, cannabinoids have been reported to reduce painful coughing. A Canadian study examined the case of a patient who suffered from adenocarcinoma, a glandular tissue cancer which stimulated painful and constant coughing fits. After his wife served him medicated rum balls, he was able to sleep soundly; in addition, his coughing did not return for another week, even though he consumed no cannabis during this time. A subsequent step with cannabis oil also showed positive results as well. As to why this may have helped, the researchers posited. “The cough reflex is regulated by G-protein coupled receptors. Agonists of prostanoid receptors and agonists of bradykinin receptors stimulate cough, whereas beta-adrenoceptor agonists and cannabinoids suppress cough.” This means that in the future, some crafty entrepreneur may devise a product which actually suppresses coughing. If that happens, we at Hytiva® will certainly let you know.