When you pay hard-earned dollars for your herb, you want to get the most out of your purchase. Every precious bowl or joint is special. That is why most of us have been practicing the art of holding our hits to absorb the most THC possible for decades. Now, experts are saying we might be doing it all wrong.

The lungs

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What happens to the smoke when we inhale? It goes in the mouth, down the trachea, and into the lungs, where the cannabinoids are absorbed into the bloodstream, and head for the brain. THC and the rest of the good stuff are only absorbed in the lungs.

Our lungs are an amazing feat of evolution, featuring about 80 times the surface area of our skin, or roughly 540 – 810 square feet. They are thick and meaty organs, a far cry from the simplistic vision we have of hollow balloons. With over 1,500 miles of air passageways, they have but one purpose, the exchange of gasses.

Absorption speed

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According to Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, a Seattle-based scientist, physician, and cannabinoid integrative medicine specialist, the full absorption of THC occurs “within milliseconds”. That’s right, it is as fast as the space between a normal inhale and exhale. Once inhaled, they reach the brain in under a minute and cross the blood-brain barrier.

What does this mean for inhaling?

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Imagine all the smoke that has run out the other end of a joint as you sat holding a hit. What about that rich milky bong load that dissipates out the top of the mouthpiece as you try to stretch your lungs.

All this time, we could have been taking hits with every breath. By holding huge hits, not only are we wasting smoke that doesn’t go inside us but since holding huge hits fills up your lungs to overflowing, the rest of the smoke sits in our trachea and mouth, not even getting absorbed!

Other reasons to stop holding it in

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People still swear by the buzz from holding in a hit, but what are they really getting? Oxygen deprivation.

O2 deprivation is what caused the brain damage in lab monkeys who were fitted with gas masks and pumped full of smoke for four minutes to produce the anti-marijuana test results that have been touted by prohibitionists as evidence of the dangers of the plant for decades! Sure you feel loopy, you almost passed out! Don’t be a test monkey.

In addition, not only are we not getting more of what we want, we are getting more of what we don’t, like the toxins, tar, and carcinogens produced by combusted materials.

So what is the right way?

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Now that we have learned what NOT to do, what is a better way? Well if you want to get all that smoke or vapor into your lungs, don’t take a huge rip. Inhale the smoke for about 2/3rd’s of an inhale, then the rest just inhale clean air. the air pushes the smoke into the lungs, making sure it all gets down there.

With each hit take a deep breath before and after, to clear any used smoke, and open up the deep recesses of the lungs. More lung area means more absorption.

Also, take a couple minutes after your first hit before taking another. Let the cannabinoids do their job. Close your eyes and focus on the delicious tastes and aromas coming from those terpenes, and the high that you are about to enjoy.

You will also make the most of your herb by extinguishing it when it is not actually being inhaled. With a group of people, pass the joint or bowl more rapidly, since you don’t have to “hold it” as long. Between the group, you could save a lot of green, if you know what I mean.

Finally, spread the word. Let your friends know how to maximize their high too. If you are sharing a bowl, this method can make it last longer, and hit stronger. Remember, friends don’t let friends waste weed!