Cannabis smokers have long-claimed that coughing makes them super high. Way higher, the story goes, then they would get without coughing. But is it true? Does coughing when you smoke weed make you higher? The science behind it holds the answer.
The Science Behind The Cough
Researchers use lasers, fiber-optic cameras, and powerful computers to illuminate the flows of air during a coughing fit. What they’ve discovered can also help explain the answer to the age-old question: does coughing when you smoke make you higher?
A human cough is something to be reckoned with. A single average cough would fill about 75 % of a two-liter bottle with air. But that jet of air shoots out in a plume several feet long. Measurements show that droplets of saliva can fly out of the mouth at over 50 miles per hour.
That’s a serious volume of air. But if coughing when you smoke marijuana makes you higher, it doesn’t make sense that pushing a plume of air out of your respiratory system would contribute to getting stoned. So what gives?
How Your Body Coughs Could Get You Higher
Lots of people think that coughing does get you higher. And they cite one particular reason. A cough, they say, causes the lungs to expand more than taking a deep breath does.
More expanded lungs mean THC and other cannabinoids can reach more of your alveoli. Those are the little sacs that absorb THC (and oxygen) into your bloodstream. It’s a plausible theory, but it turns out to not be exactly correct.
It turns out, it’s not coughing per se that can get you higher when you smoke up. Instead, it’s what your body has to do to get a cough ready, so to speak.
A common cough caused by inhaling cannabis smoke begins with a short, sharp, but deep breath. After that, the lungs rapidly compress, sending a cracking burst of air out of the lungs and throat in fractions of a second.
Coughing, then, is technically a compression that forces air out and away from your lungs. And that’s exactly its purpose: protection. It’s supposed to blast irritating and harmful particles out of your body.
So it doesn’t get you higher, but the sharp inhale you take before it might. And that’s because that short, deep breath exposes more of your lungs to THC.
Coughing Might Also NOT Get You Higher
So, stoner scientists have been right about coughing and highness, but for the wrong reasons. However, other factors are involved that could make you feel higher.
But that doesn’t mean more THC has been absorbed into your bloodstream. For the same reasons that holding your hit in longer when you smoke makes you feel higher without actually getting you higher, coughing can make you trick you into feeling more stoned.
Coughing, like holding in your hits, deprives your brain of oxygen. Oxygen deprivation causes light-headedness, dizziness, and a drop in blood pressure. All of these can make it feel like that hit you just took got you higher than it did.