Why Does Marijuana Make You Cough?

Find me a cannabis smoker who hasn’t experienced that dreaded cough after inhaling the smoke, and I’ll cover you in gold. It starts innocently when you feel a tickle in your throat. However, that tickle triggers the coughing that, in some cases, is difficult to stop, and some people continue to cough with every next hit they take.

So what is the culprit behind the weed cough? Does coughing actually get you higher? And what about inhaling the smoke to get more stoned? Here is what you need to know about cannabis and coughing.

Why Does Cannabis Make You Cough?

When you cough after taking a hit, this may happen for several reasons: it may be the harsh smoke or too big a hit, or – which is the worst-case scenario – the indicator that you’re smoking some shady stuff. Let’s elaborate on this for a bit.

Your Lungs Are Not Designed to Inhale Smoke

It’s a dead giveaway. After all, your lungs are designed to breathe in the air, not smoke.

If you think that it is the marijuana smoke that makes you cough, I regret to say you’re mistaken. Ask any tobacco smoker, and they will tell you right away that the first time they took a hit from a cigarette, they coughed like crazy.

Marijuana smoke consists of tiny stable, liquid particles that irritate the lungs and make it difficult for you to breathe properly. Moreover, such an alarming signal is transferred to your brain, which results in coughing.

Nevertheless, like every other organ, our lungs are very adaptive, so you can ‘exercise’ them to cough less when you become a seasoned cannabis smoker. Remember that smoking pure weed may be harder for your lungs than if you mixed it with tobacco or some other, safer substitute.

The Heat Is Too Strong

Heat is one of the major causes of coughing after taking a hit. For example, when you smoke cannabis, the material will combust due to the intense heat that activates THC in your buds, the cannabinoid responsible for making you high on weed.

However, this intense heat comes with one serious drawback – it’s the cause of your lung irritation. Lungs and their tissues are susceptible, so they get easily irritated by the hot smoke. Therefore, if you want to avoid that inconvenience, purchasing a vaporizer may be a viable option. Vaporization heats your plant material to the optimal temperature instead of burning it. As a result, not only will you get rid of the marijuana cough, but you’ll also keep your lungs safe while getting the most out of your strain.

That Gargantuan Hit Was Way Too Much

Why does weed make you cough? Well, maybe, just maybe because you took too large a hit from your smoking device?

You see, if you’re a tall and massive person, you’re “predestined” to taking giant hits. But, on the other hand, being short and slim means that you have a smaller lung capacity. Thus, you cannot fill that much smoke in your lungs, and you’ll eventually burst out coughing.

When approaching a pipe or bong for the first time, start with baby steps. It’s tempting to inhale all that sexy milky smoke right to your lungs and get a few levels higher with your buds, but is it worth spitting your lungs out? Bongs, pipes, and dab rigs entail the highest risk of taking a hit that’s too large, so again, you might want to switch to a vape pen for a little change – or, if like me, you love joints and blunts, roll one up and take it easy.

You Smoke Low Quality Weed

Last but not least, if you’re smoking some bad quality plant, you can be more than sure that you’ll start coughing. These may be product irritants that are used for curing the weed, as well as mould, mildew, dust, residual pesticides, and other random particles that took over your nugs.

When you inhale all these particles into your lungs, this will make your smoking experience a nightmare.

That being said, always look for top-notch quality nugs from a credible source. Pesticides, as well as mildews, can trigger allergic reactions, which will intensify the cough, so it’s in your best interest to avoid bad weed.

How to Cough Less When Smoking Weed?

Sometimes, coughing is the inevitable part of blazing up, but how to cough less when you smoke weed? Is it possible in the first place?

Yes, it is.

You might just as well turn to edibles or vaporizers if you want to avoid coughing completely, but if that is not an option – which I understand because I love smoking weed myself – here are some tricks to consider if you want to minimize the suffering.

Take Smaller Hits

It looks like Captain Obvious just landed! As I mentioned before, if you’re not the biggest type of a guy, giant hits may make you cough like a chimney, so if you want to experience less discomfort, I suggest you try taking smaller hits. Believe me; your lungs will be thankful for such an act of mercifulness.

Don’t Hesitate On the Inhale

Pot smokers who cough a lot generally don’t take deep breaths because they somehow hesitate the inhale. Now, if the smoke gets stuck in your throat, coughing will be a natural reaction. With that said, you should inhale the smoke deeply into your lungs so that it comes quickly through your throat. Also, remember that the smoke from weed is denser than tobacco, not to mention that it moves slower, so the deeper you breathe, the better!

Use a Percolator Bong

A percolator adds a water chamber to the main shaft of the bong tube. This gives you an extra chamber to filter the smoke and cool it down before you take a hit and inhale the smoke. As a result, the entire experience is easier on both your throat and lungs. If you don’t want to buy a separate glass piece for extra filtration, try a diffuser that will break up the smoke into many bubbles before entering the main chamber.

Mix Weed With Something

I wouldn’t recommend tobacco, though. When you mix weed and tobacco to roll a spliff, you take the risk of inhaling toxic substances like carcinogens into your body. Moreover, the tar that builds up from tobacco smoke is deadly for your lungs, and you don’t want to build up twice as much tar by mixing these two. Nonetheless, a spliff won’t hit you as hard as pure weed, so it’s still an option if you’re desperate.

Fortunately, there are some other materials you can substitute tobacco with. For example, you can smoke weed with chamomile, yerba mate, green tea, or other herbs. They are safer to smoke than tobacco, and they can add an intricate scent to your spliff.

Does Coughing Get You Higher?

This question is as old as cannabis itself, so it’s high time we answered it once and for all.

Yes and no.

Many cannabis smokers claim that coughing makes them experience a more intense high than when they don’t cough. This theory escalated so quickly that one of the first things you’ll hear when trying to wipe your tears and clear the throat is something like this:

“That’s good, man. That’s good. Coughing will make you super high!”

Well, will it? Let’s see what science has to say about it.

When you cough after inhaling cannabis smoke, it all starts with a sharp but deep breath. The breath is followed by rapid compression of your lungs and results in a sudden burst of air within a second.

Coughing is basically a natural reaction to defend your lungs by blasting irritating and toxic particles out of your system. It doesn’t make you any higher, but that short deep breath you take – it does. Simply put, the breath creates more surface in your lungs for THC.

So, technically speaking, coughing does make you higher, but not for the reasons this myth has been spread. As a matter of fact, continuous coughing after hitting a bowl deprives your brain of oxygen, which is why you may feel like the herb kicked you harder. The truth is that a temporary lack of oxygen makes you experience dizziness that is confusingly similar to the feeling of THC kicking in with increased power.

This brings us to another question, “Can holding the smoke in your lungs makes you higher?”

No, it can’t.

Holding in your hits results in the same oxygen deprivation as in the case of coughing. It’s the light-headedness, a drop in blood pressure, and sudden dizziness you feel when you hold the smoke in your lungs for a few seconds more.

Bottom line? Get your facts straight, and don’t spread the myth ever again.

Final Cough

Let’s be honest, coughing after taking a giant hit may happen even to the savviest stoner, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Why does weed make you cough? To begin with, your lungs are not meant to inhale smoke. Furthermore, the intense heat at which your plant burns can irritate your lungs, which will trigger a defensive reaction. It may very well happen that your lungs capacity doesn’t allow for taking giant rips from bongs, so don’t try to impress people at the cost of your smoking experience. Finally, if you buy low-quality weed, or the herb goes bad for some reason, this may also be why you cough when you inhale the marijuana smoke.

Can’t wait to use cannabis without this dreadful cough? Switch to edibles or buy a vaporizer to heat the herb instead of combusting it. Smokers have their ways to cough less when smoking weed, too. If you can’t resist your daily bong, incorporate a diffuser or percolator into the main tube, or buy a percolator bong.

Last but not least, remember that coughing gets you higher, but it’s not coughing per se that enhances your buzz – it’s the deep, short breath you take when inhaling smoke. Oh, and don’t hold the smoke in for too long; you’re only depriving your brain of the oxygen, which has been wrongly associated with making you higher.

They say that practice makes perfect – let’s light one up, then!

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