There’s a reason why cuddling up under a warm blanket feels so good after a little cannabis. Finding some goosebumps on your arms or feeling a little chilly after partaking are very common physical side effects of the psychoactive herb. Others include a dry mouth, red eyes, and an increased heart rate. However, is cannabis actively lowering your body temperature, or is something else at play? Here’s the scoop on why cannabis can make you feel cold.
The simple answer to this question is yes: cannabis really does lower your body temperature. This phenomenon is called THC-induced hypothermia. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive in the cannabis plant.
But, don’t worry. In humans, this hypothermia not as frightening as it sounds. Rather, smoking a couple of bowls might just make you feel a little chilly.
Believe it or not, cannabis has a similar effect to wasabi, mustard, hot chili peppers when it comes to temperature. Hot and spicy foods can help cool you down. As soon as the tongue (or any part of your skin, for that matter) senses the heat, it ignites a cascade of chemical reactions that tell the body that it needs to cool down.
This reaction is thought to be mediated by a particular cell receptor called the TRPA-1 receptor. This receptor has many functions in the body, but it is essential in mediating pain, inflammation, and temperature regulation.
As the theory goes, when you consume something spicy or hot, this receptor is activated and it causes a cool-down and pain-fighting reaction.
There are a few reasons why the cannabis plant can make you cool. Not only is the herb most commonly consumed in the form of a hot vapor or smoke, but compounds in the herb trigger the TRPA-1 receptor as well.
Unfortunately, much of the research on the subject has been conducted in rodents, not in humans. However, the hypothermic effects of THC were noted in scientific research back in the 1970s. In the 80s, more rodent studies found a connection between cannabis and a lowered body temperature.
While researchers think that the TRPA-1 receptor is at play, additional research suggests that cannabis may also affect body temperature in a more complicated way.
TRPA-1 is not the only type of cell receptor affected by cannabis. Psychoactive THC and other compounds in the herb work their magic in the human body by connecting with cell sites called cannabinoid receptors.
Research has shown that cannabinoid receptors may have a powerful influence over temperature regulation. Cannabinoid receptors make up a part of a much larger endocannabinoid system (ECS).
One review of the scientific literature suggests that in low doses, the active compounds in cannabis might cause hyperthermia, which is a temporary increase in body temperature.
In high the molecules have the opposite effect. On a hot summer night, consuming a little cannabis might just help you cool off. Yet, to take full advantage of the cooling properties of cannabis, bong rips, and dabs may be more likely to provide relief in the heat.
If the above rodent study is any indication, just a puff or two might keep you sweating.