This post is for people who need to detox from marijuana, get a tolerance break or pass a drug test.
We’ll tell you what are the most efficient THC detox methods even if you have only 24 hours.
This article is a summary of scientific research visualized and explained in simple language.
What will you learn
- How our body removes marijuana
- How to get weed out of your system faster
- Step by step instructions to detox from weed permanently
- Step by step instructions for urgent flushing the THC out of your body in case of drug test
What marijuana leaves behind
The main component in marijuana responsible for the “high” effect is THC. When weed gets in our system, THC is metabolized by our liver into several metabolites.
These metabolites, as well as THC, are highly lipid(fat) soluble. So they tend to “stick” to our body fat and some other tissues. About 70% of THC from the blood is taken up by fat.
After that, the metabolites are slowly released back into the blood. Then part of these metabolites sticks back to the tissues.
So they are in the equilibrium between blood and fat.
How our body removes weed: the basics
Below is an elementary description of weed metabolism. Just to understand the process.
You can read the detailed guide about metabolism here: [link to metabolism article]
When we smoke weed or eat edibles, THC gets into the blood.
Blood goes through the liver, which metabolizes THC in 2 phases:
- CYP2C9 enzymes metabolize THC to 11-OH-THC
- CYP2C19 and CYP3A4 enzymes metabolize 11-OH-THC to 11-COOH-THC
Again, this is an elementary description. There are many other metabolites and enzymes involved in the process. But these are the most important.
Glucuronide molecules are added to 11-COOH-THC and 11-OH-THC, forming THC-COO-Gluc and THC-O-Gluc metabolites. This is done by UGT1A3, UGT1A9, and UGT1A10 enzymes.
These metabolites with glucuronide molecules are water-soluble, so they don’t stick to fat and can be excreted with urine and feces.
About 65% of THC metabolites are excreted with feces and only about 25% with urine.
Part of the metabolites is reabsorbed back into the blood in the intestines by enterohepatic circulation.
Part of these metabolites is reabsorbed back into the blood from pre-urine by tubular reabsorption.
This is very important to understand. You will understand why later in the article.
Further in this article, we will use THC as the common name for THC and its metabolites.
How long THC sticks around
Here’s the detailed post about this: How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System. The Ultimate Guide
In general: THC can stay in your fat tissues for months. This depends on your metabolic rate, diet, and lifestyle.
Thus it will be slowly released back into the blood and then into urine and feces for months.
Studies show that low levels of THC metabolites have been detected for more than 5 weeks in the urine and feces following a single dose of THC edibles.
In hair, THC can stay for years. There was a case when it was detected three years after the use of marijuana.
No THC is reabsorbed from the blood into saliva, so it will stay in your mouth until washed out, usually for several days.
How long is it detectable by drug tests
Drug tests look for THC metabolites in saliva, blood, urine, and hair, depending on the drug test type.
Each drug test has the “cutoff level” – the minimal detectable concentration of metabolites in the sample. If the concentration is above the cutoff level – you’ll fail the drug test.
How long can drug tests detect the time marijuana depends on a person’s lifestyle, diet, and metabolism rate.
Here are the average values:
- Blood: 7 days
- Urine: 30 days
- Hair: months and years. This depends on how frequently you cut your hair.
- Saliva: 3 days
How much THC is in my body
This highly depends on the following factors.
Marijuana potency and use frequency
The more you smoke, the higher the concentration of THC in your weed – the more THC will stay in your body.
Smoking VS edibles
This also affects the amount of THC that gets into your body. For example, smoking is not very efficient, and about 50% of THC is destroyed by heat and lost in the side smoke. Eating edibles or using a vaporizer will result in more THC getting into your body.
Total body fat
The more fat you have, the more THC metabolites can “stick” to it. But this is true only for heavy users. For occasional users, even a small amount of body fat is enough to trap THC they get into their system.
Metabolism rate & overall health
Healthy people with fast metabolic rates can metabolize THC faster. They also usually have less body fat and can burn fat more quickly. Thus THC trapped in fat cells will be released and removed from the body faster.
How to get weed out of your system
If you need a fast detox to pass a drug test, read the next part of this post.
Here we will explain how to remove all of the THC from your body.
To do that, you need to do the following:
- Increase the release of THC from the fat cells
- Increase the metabolism rate of THC in the liver so more THC will be metabolized and excreted
- Block the enterohepatic circulation, so THC will not be reabsorbed back into the blood from the intestines, and more THC will be excreted in feces
- Block the tubular reabsorption, so THC will not be reabsorbed back into the blood.
Increase the release of THC from the fat cells
To do this, you need to make your body burn fat. Actually, you need to do the same things that are required to lose weight. There’s a lot of information about this on the web.
Here’s the basic list of what will help. You can find detailed information following the links below:
- Add exercise to your daily routine (lifting weights, HIIT, cardio)
- Eat healthy food (protein, fat, and vegetables)
- Cut back on refined carbs
- Do intermittent fasting
- Drink more water
- Sleep at least 7 hours each day
You can read the detailed instructions here:
Increase the metabolism rate of THC in the liver
As we already mentioned – THC is metabolized in the liver in 2 phases.
So we need to improve each phase to metabolize THC faster.
Enzymes do metabolization. We need enzyme inducers to increase their metabolic activity.
Enzyme inducers stimulate your body to produce more of a specific enzyme. This process takes several days to see significant induction. Maximal induction can take over a week.
Unlike inhibition, which is instant, enzyme induction takes time. It may take several days to see significant induction, and maximal induction can take over a week.
There are a lot of medications that induce metabolism enzymes. Most people don’t have easy access to them, so we don’t recommend these.
We will list only herbs that can do that.
Herbs that will speed the metabolism of THC
Here we will list the helpful herbs. We will provide detailed step-by-step instructions later in the post.
Important: combining different herbs can cause severe side effects.
St. John’s Wort
This is the most famous herb for inducing enzymes responsible for phase 1 of THC metabolism. It is well researched, and several studies confirm its properties.
This research shows that St John’s Wort induces CYP3A4 enzymes.
“St. John’s Wort Affects cytochrome P450 isoforms increasing metabolic activity CYP3A4 and CYP2C9.”
“St. John’s wort affects the pharmacokinetics of several drugs by inducing CYP isozymes, such as CYP3A4, CYP2C19, CYP2C9”.
There was a study with 12 people involved. They 500mg of Panax Ginseng twice daily for 28 days. The results showed that Panax ginseng induced CYP3A activity in the liver and possibly the gastrointestinal tract.
The study with 14 people showed that the Ginkgo Biloba extract moderately induces the CYP2C19 enzyme. But this only occurred at the highest recommended dose of 240mg/day.
Another study showed that the G. Biloba Extract at 100-2,500 ng/ml significantly induced the activity and expression of CYP3A.
In this study’s results, both Euphorbiae Pekinensis Radix and Glycyrrhizae Radix showed induction of CYP2C9 enzyme.
Sixteen adult males were enrolled in a two-phase, randomized study. In each phase, the volunteers received a placebo or glycyrrhizin(the primary ingredient of licorice) for 14 days.
They took 150mg glycyrrhizin salt tablet at 7 a.m. and another at 7 p.m. for 14 days.
The results showed the modest induction of the CYP3A enzyme.
Aspirin, 50 mg daily, was given for 7 and 14 days to 18 males volunteers.
Both 7-day and 14-day low-dose aspirin induced the activities of CYP2C19.
CYP3A activity increased moderately but significantly by both 7-day and 14-day aspirin treatment.
In this study, soymilk, and miso significantly induced CYP3A4 enzyme activity.
The enterohepatic circulation
Skipping all those medical terms, enterohepatic circulation is the reabsorption of THC metabolites through the intestines’ walls back into the blood.
This means that even if metabolites were moved to the intestines for excretion, they could still return to your blood.
Since we need to remove all THC from our body, we need to prevent this circulation.
How to prevent THC metabolites from being reabsorbed back into the blood
Studies are showing that activated charcoal absorbs drugs in the intestines and prevents enterohepatic circulation.
For example, adsorption of 1,000 ng/mL of free or conjugated THC-COOH was complete using as little as 5 mg of activated charcoal.
The same study shows that wheat bran can also absorb THC, and the absorption increased with increasing amounts of wheat bran.
That said, activated charcoal may cause some unpleasant side effects, the most common of which are nausea and vomiting. Besides, constipation and black stools are two other commonly reported side effects.
THC Detox: instructions
Important: We do not provide medical advice. The provided information is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical consultation, diagnosis, or treatment.
Well, the detailed meal plan depends on your daily calorie requirements and food preferences. First, you need to calculate the number of required calories and then modify your meal plan to consume fewer calories than required.
You can find a good calorie calculator and sample meal plans here: https://www.verywellfit.com/an-example-of-a-healthy-balanced-meal-plan-2506647
The simplest way to add exercise to your daily routine is to go for a walk for at least 60 minutes. You can also add low-intensity cardio training.
Remember that you also need to do it for at least 60 minutes.
This is because our body uses the energy saved as glycogen in our muscles and liver. There’s enough energy for ~45 minutes of activity.
After this energy is depleted, our body starts to get energy from the body fat.
As we already mentioned, you should use only one of the suggested supplements. Combining different supplements can cause interactions and severe side effects.
The mentioned dosages are recommended dosages from the manufacturers of the supplements. Consult your physician for medical advice before taking any of them.
- St. John’s Wort extract: 300 mg 3 times daily.
- Panax Ginseng: 500 mg twice daily.
- Ginkgo Biloba: 240 mg daily.
- Licorice root extract: 150mg twice daily
- Aspirin: 50 mg daily for 14 days
- Soymilk: 3 cups daily
- Activated charcoal: 1000mg twice daily
How much time will it take?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell the exact time it will take. This depends on many factors. But you can use this calculator to get the estimates: [link to calculator]
This calculator uses a math model to simulate the human metabolism of THC. It will show how much time it will take to detox naturally.
If you follow a healthy diet, exercise regimen, and use supplements, it will significantly reduce the amount of time required to detox.
What’s the fastest way to detox for a drug test
If you need to detox fast, the situation is different. You may need to pass a drug test, and there’s not enough time to remove weed out of the system.
So you need another way. You need to lower THC metabolites’ concentration in your urine below the detectable (“cutoff”) level.
To do this, you need fewer metabolites to be excreted in the urine.
You can achieve that by following these steps:
- Stop THC from being released from fat into the blood. So fewer metabolites will be metabolized and excreted into the urine.
- Slow the THC metabolism in the liver by blocking(inhibiting) metabolizing enzymes.
- Stop THC from being reabsorbed back into the blood from the intestines (enterohepatic circulation)
- Flush THC metabolites from the bladder, so the concentration will be below the cutoff level.
Let’s find out how we can do each of these steps.
If you need the exact instructions, click here to skip the explanations.
Stop the fat breakdown
Again, there are a lot of studies describing how our body burns fat.
Here’s the simple explanation:
The energy is stored in our body in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the liver and muscles.
When we need energy, our body processes glycogen from the liver and muscles, but the amount of glycogen in the body is limited.
When glycogen amounts are depleted, our body begins to process fat and protein(muscle) to get energy.
So we need to make sure there’s enough glycogen in the liver and muscles for our body, so it doesn’t start the breakdown of fat.
Our body gets glycogen from processing the carbohydrates.
So all we need is to consume carbohydrates before the drug test. This will provide the body with glycogen and stop the breakdown of fat.
We also need to consider that some carbohydrates take more time to be processed, so you need to correlate the type of carbohydrates and the time we need to pass the test.
Change the metabolism of THC.
To do this, we need to inhibit(block) the activity of THC metabolizing enzymes. This will reduce their activity, and thus less THC will be metabolized for excretion.
As you see, this is the opposite of what we do when we need to detox.
We need to use enzyme inhibitors. An enzyme inhibitor is a molecule that binds to an enzyme and decreases its activity.
Actually, we need to decrease the activity of only one enzyme, CYP2C9. This is the enzyme responsible for metabolizing THC into metabolites that are excreted with the urine.
The good thing is that inhibition is basically instant.
Here’s the list of CYP2C9 inhibitors:
- Ginger ( https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23770984/ )
- Devil’s claw (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15384148/ )
- Echinacea ( https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15992226/ )
- Garlic (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15992226/)
- Ginseng (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15133536/ )
- Grapefruit juice (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17995595/ )
- Green Tea (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27518169/ )
- Kava (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12386118/ )
- Saw Palmetto (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464477/ )
The research found that seventeen oils had the potential to be potent inhibitors of CYP2C9. Those oils were: bergamot, cardamom, carrot seed, cinnamon leaf, citronella, clary sage, clove bud, elemi, eugenol, geranium bourbon, ginger, neroli, oregano Vulgare, and vanilla absolute.
Many other herbs can inhibit these enzymes, but the above are the most popular.
Stop THC from being reabsorbed back into the blood from the intestines.
As we previously said, activated charcoal or wheat bran can block enterohepatic circulation. But since this is a fast detox, you need to use the increased dosage.
Flush THC metabolites from the bladder
At this step, we already reduced the number of THC metabolites entering the bladder. Still, some metabolites were already excreted to the bladder.
So we need to flush them out to reduce their concentration in the urine. This can be done by drinking more water and urinating several times.
The problem here is that when we drink more water, our urine becomes pale and “diluted.” The other components of urine are also flushed out.
The lab will check the urine for the specific gravity, creatinine levels, and color. If any of these parameters are out of normal range – your urine will be rejected as diluted. And you’ll need to retake the test.
Creatinine is a by-product of muscle metabolism that is excreted into your urine. Urine creatinine is typically used to measure kidney function, but it is also a way that drug testing companies measure whether you have excessively diluted urine.
The DOT and SAMHSA guidelines (which many drug testing labs follow) have a cutoff of 20 mg/dL for urine creatinine. If your value is below this, your sample may be rejected.
Creatine (note the spelling difference with creatinine) is the precursor to creatinine, and it is available as a dietary supplement.
After taking creatine, your creatinine levels in the urine will rise. You need to take a creatine ethyl ester supplement as it quickly raises urine creatinine levels. Creatine ethyl ester is more effective than creatine monohydrate.
The lab technician can run a specific gravity test to see if your urine is overly diluted. Specific gravity is a measure of your urine density, determined by the concentration of solutes in your urine. Any molecule that is dissolved in your urine will increase its specific gravity.
When you drink a lot of water, the specific gravity decreases, and your urine will be rejected.
To restore specific gravity, you should drink an electrolyte solution. By consuming extra electrolytes, your kidneys will excrete these with the excess fluid and keep your urine’s specific gravity in the normal range.
The first thing a lab tech will do upon collecting the sample is a visual inspection. A very clear-looking specimen may arouse suspicion and trigger additional testing.
You can take vitamin B2 to restore the color of the urine. Vitamin B2 (also called riboflavin) is water-soluble and excreted by your kidneys. You should take it 3 hours before the test.
The fastest way to detox for a drug test: step by step instructions
- The night before the test, eat carbohydrate-rich food. This is what is called carbohydrate loading. Foods with low glycemic indices are better for carbo-loading due to their minimal effect on glucose levels. Low glycemic foods include vegetables, whole-wheat pasta, and grains.
- 4 hours before the test, take 5 grams of activated charcoal. This will break the enterohepatic circulation of THC metabolites.
- Take 10 g of creatine ethyl ester 3 hours before the test. This will restore the creatinine level.
- Take 300 mg of vitamin B2 3 hours before the test. This will restore the color of the urine.
- Consume the electrolyte solution with grapefruit juice 0.5 – 1L per hour starting 3 hours before the test. Juice will inhibit THC metabolism, and electrolytes will restore specific gravity.
Detox home remedies: myths of not?
Several popular remedies are told to help detox from marijuana. Since we already know what happens with marijuana in our bodies, we will find out if these remedies work or not.
We need to understand how each of these remedies affects fat breakdown, metabolizing enzymes, and enterohepatic circulation.
|Remedy||Enzymes||Fat breakdown||Block E.C.|
|Cranberry Juice||No effect||No||No|
|Apple Cider Vinegar||No effect||Yes||No|
Niacin doesn’t affect enterohepatic circulation and only affects the CYP2D6 enzyme, which is not relevant for us.
However, Several studies show that niacin blocks the breakdown of fats in adipose tissue.
So it can be used as an additional remedy to pass a drug test to temporarily blocking the fat breakdown.
Unfortunately, there are severe side effects and dangers of using niacin.
It can cause liver problems, stomach ulcers, changes to glucose levels, muscle damage, low blood pressure, heart rhythm changes, and other issues.
Taking niacin also might worsen allergies, gallbladder disease, and symptoms of certain thyroid disorders.
You can block the breakdown of fat by eating carbohydrates the day before or eating chocolate bars several hours before the test. Using niacin is not worth health risks.
Verdict: can help with fast detox but is dangerous for the health
There’s a study showing that green tea inhibits the CYP2C9 enzyme so that it can be useful for the fast detox protocol.
Another study showed that green tea induced a small, statistically non-significant weight loss in overweight or obese adults. Because the amount of weight loss is small, it is not likely to be clinically important. Green tea had no significant effect on the maintenance of weight loss.
Green tea is a diuretic, so it will help to urinate frequently, which is good for flushing the metabolites out of the bladder.
Green tea doesn’t affect enterohepatic circulation.
Verdict: It can help to pass a drug test. It can be used for detox along with enzyme inducers only.
Cranberry juice is rich in flavonoids, which are known to inhibit the CYP2C9 enzyme.
However, another study shows that daily ingestion of cranberry juice does not inhibit CYP2C9, CYP1A2, or CYP3A4.
So, we have a contradiction here.
Another study shows that cranberry decreases diet-induced weight gain and visceral obesity.
This means that cranberry juice can prevent you from gaining more weight. It doesn’t mean that it will help you to breakdown the fat you already have.
Verdict: Cranberry cannot help to detox from weed or pass a drug test
Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar doesn’t affect THC metabolizing enzymes and enterohepatic circulation.
However, there’s interesting research. During the 12-week treatment period, the subjects in 3 groups took 500 ml daily of a beverage containing either 15 ml of vinegar, 30 ml of vinegar, or 0 ml of vinegar.
Bodyweight, BMI, visceral fat were significantly lower in both vinegar intake groups than in the placebo group.
So, this study shows that daily intake of vinegar can increase body fat breakdown.
Verdict: vinegar can help with detoxification from marijuana by increasing the breakdown of fat cells
Some people assume that sweating in the sauna will help to excrete more THC metabolites with the sweat.
While studies show that low amounts of THC are excreted with sweat, these mounts are not significant.
The higher temperatures cause your heart rate to increase in a way similar to exercise. But this increase only causes a slightly higher calorie burn than sitting at rest.
It isn’t an effective tool for real fat loss.
Verdict: not effective
The main component of Goldenseal is berberine. Some researches show that taking berberine can reduce weight in obese people.
These effects are opposite to each other. The weight loss effect is good for detoxing, and enzyme inhibition is bad for it.
But since promoting weight loss/fat breakdown takes time and enzyme inhibition is almost instant. Goldenseal can be used for fast detox.
Verdict: can be used in the fast detox method.
Lemon juice, similar to grapefruit juice, inhibits the CYP3A4 enzyme by almost 60%.
Verdict: Can be used in fast detox.