If you’re a cannabis user and concerned about an upcoming occupational drug test, you’ve come to the right place. All over the internet, there’s talk about successfully flushing out cannabis and its compounds—namely THC—from your system. Many state cranberry juice, apple cider vinegar, and mouthwash gets rid of weed in your system, while others selling quick marijuana detox kits claim to flush THC out of your body within a day or two.
Unfortunately, these methods are mostly overstated or completely worthless. Why don’t they work? Is there a foolproof way to detox cannabis out of your body? What’s the best way to pass a drug test?
- Put simply, there are no “detox” methods for cannabis and its compounds — CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids are stored securely in fat cells and hair follicles.
- How long cannabis stays in your system depends on several factors but expect it to be detectable for anywhere between three days to three months.
- Natural diuretic drinks (cranberry juice, etc), goldenseal herb, mouthwash, bleach, and overhydration might mask THC but are either unpredictable or harmful to your health.
- Weed detox kits warrant caution — not FDA-approved, no grounding in science, won’t completely remove cannabis compounds from the body.
- Exercise can increase THC levels 24 hours before a drug test — not recommended.
- Synthetic urine is a slippery slope — can pass through a drug screening successfully but manufacturer mistakes and drug test collector vigilance can blow your cover.
What even is a detox anyway?
Detoxes are short-term solutions designed to rinse, clean, or eliminate toxins from your body. Many detox methods come in the form of pills, drinks, shampoos, diets, and fasting regimens. While most detox products and programs claim to quickly “reset” your body by helping your digestive system and other physiological functions, there’s very little scientific evidence proving their effectiveness.
Can you detox weed out of your system?
No. There’s no such thing as a “cannabis detox”. Nothing can flush THC out of your system, no matter how hard you try. Why? Because all cannabinoids including THC and its variants store themselves securely in adipose tissue (fatty tissue). Fatty tissue is primarily composed of fat cells and can be found all around your body. The only way to detox THC out of this fatty tissue is physically removing it from your body, which is obviously impossible.
Is a so-called “detox” even necessary for cannabis?
Strictly speaking, the need for physical detoxing doesn’t really apply to cannabis. Cannabis and its compounds aren’t toxic when consumed and don’t pose dangerous health risks. The only real reason why users want to perform a so-called weed detox is not failing an upcoming drug test.
The science behind how cannabis enters into your system
When you consume marijuana, THC is metabolized by the liver and its special team of enzymes, also known as the P450 system. This metabolization process converts THC into nearly 80 separate metabolites, the two main ones being 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC) and later 11-carboxy-THC (11-COOH-THC).
THC and its newly converted metabolites flow through your blood and travel to various areas of your body such as urine, blood, feces, brain regions, peripheral organs, and bodily tissue (including fatty tissue).
The length of time cannabis is detectable in your system
There is no set length of time that accurately determines how long cannabis and its compounds are detectable in your system.
However, as a general rule of thumb, the length of time you can reasonably expect cannabis to stay in your system is as follows:
- Blood — Up to one week
- Hair – Up to 90 days
- Urine — Between 3-77 days
- Saliva — Between 24 hours to one week
- Sweat — Up to one week
Remember, these estimates are not accurate nor should they be a definitive guideline on how long cannabis is detectable in your system. There are several other factors to consider such as:
- The type of drug test (urine, blood, hair)
- Frequency of cannabis consumption
- Potency or strength of cannabis product consumed
- Body fat percentage
- Food consumed before consumption
- Water intake after consumption
- Metabolism and enzyme efficiency
If you’re a first time user with no experience smoking cannabis, expect to pass most drugs tests within 24-48 hours. Regular or chronic users don’t have the same luxury. The THC stored in your body has accumulated over a longer period of time and is most likely detectable for anywhere between 30-90 days, though this is only an approximate.
Certain THC metabolites remain in your body longer than others
Not all THC metabolites remain in your system at the same time. Research on casual or first time cannabis users showed delta-9 THC was under the detectable limit in serum after 12 hours, while 11-COOH-THC was detectable for up to one week. In chronic cannabis users, THC was detectable in blood samples for up to one month and 11-COOH-THC in urine samples up to three months.
Common “weed detox” methods (and why they don’t work)
There are several marijuana detox methods out there. All of them are essentially a waste of your time and money. Some can even be very harmful to your health.
- Natural diuretic drinks: Beyond anecdotal stories found on Reddit, there’s no evidence indicating natural diuretic drinks (cranberry juice, green tea) will rinse THC from your system, urine, or feces. However, they can “trick” urine drug tests by loading your pee full of sugars, vitamins, and proteins, masking the THC compounds and potentially causing a negative result (this isn’t guaranteed).
- Goldenseal herb: Goldenseal herb is sourced from a native North American plant of the same name. It’s used as an effective treatment against inflammatory diseases but some suggest it can help burn fat and reduce obesity in animal test subjects. Since burning fat releases THC and other cannabinoids from fat cells, you’d think this works, right? Well, we’re not sure. There’s actually very little evidence proving Goldenseal’s ability to burn fat in humans.
- Overhydration: Adequate daily water consumption is vital to your health and wellness, but if you get a little too wild with it and overhydrate, you risk eliminating large quantities of valuable sodium (salt) from your blood, which leads to a condition called hyponatremia. Hyponatremia can cause nausea, sickness, vomiting, fatigue, seizures, or death (rare cases). Overhydration can also dilute your urine to the point where a sample is unacceptable or inconclusive.
- Mouthwash: Many believe mouthwash immediately eliminates cannabis hidden away in oral fluid, resulting in a negative saliva swab test. This isn’t true. The use of any oral cleaning, which includes mouthwash, water, or toothpaste, might mask cannabis from being detected but can also result in an inconclusive test result. Some employers might deem an inconclusive test result as evidence of evading a positive result.
- Bleach: Why bleach doesn’t work as a THC detox method is almost self-explanatory but we’ll quickly explain anyway. Bleach is a toxic and corrosive substance. If any quantity of bleach is ingested, it negatively reacts with your healthy tissue and causes cell death. Large quantities can cause severe sickness or death. Don’t drink bleach for any reason.
The misleading nature of weed detox kits
Marijuana detox kits are insanely popular. You’ll find a huge number of different THC detox and cleanser kits online and in-store. The most common are detox drinks, pills, and shampoos, many promising to get weed out of your system in as little as five days. Sounds great, right? Wrong. These cannabis detox kits are created by opportunistic entrepreneurs looking to profit off of people’s desperation.
The FDA has not approved any of these kits, calling into question their safety and efficacy. Even if the FDA did give them a seal of approval, there’s no quick-fix “magic formula” able to clear cannabis, THC, or any other cannabis compound out of your system, especially when they’re stored in your fatty tissue or hair follicles.
We recommend staying away from any marijuana detox kits unless you’re happy with spending your hard-earned money on products that have no grounding in science.
The short-term exercise detox myth
Considering sweating THC out of your system? Thinking about getting on the treadmill and burning the fat cells away?
There’s a myth going around suggesting exercise will help you pass a drug test. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. It might even make things worse.
Researchers discovered exercise two or three hours before a drug test causes a spike in THC levels as it releases from fat cells. If you have an imminent drug test, a quick cardio workout or weightlifting session might make things a hell of a lot worse.
Another study showed exercise actually caused no changes in THC levels 24 hours before a drug test, suggesting a workout is practically useless and won’t alter the results.
Don’t put all your hopes on synthetic urine
Synthetic urine isn’t a THC detox, per se. It’s simply a method of trying to fool drug tests using fake urine created in a laboratory.
In order to trick urine tests, manufacturers carefully mix water, creatine, urea, uric acid, and PH balancers to accurately mimic real urine’s mass and composition. This careful mix of chemicals and substances makes synthetic urine extremely convincing and can pass through urine tests undetected, but only if it’s manufactured and handled perfectly. Any mistakes on the manufacturer’s end and it’s game over for you and your employment opportunity.
Once you receive your fake pee, there’s also the added pressure of keeping it at the body heat temperature and making sure no-one at the testing site finds out you’re trying to cheat the test.
Sample collectors are incredibly vigilant when it comes to those who circumvent the testing process. They know what to look for, particularly when it comes to odd behavior paired with a questionable synthetic urine sample.
You have a cannabis drug test coming up. How do you guarantee a negative result?
Short of life-long cannabis abstinence, you can never guarantee a negative cannabis test result until you actually take the test. Anyone or anything claiming short-term detox methods can cleanse your body of cannabis is grossly misleading you. Nothing (and we mean nothing) can magically rid your system of THC or any other cannabis compound.
So, instead of relying on bogus or unpredictable weed detox methods, we recommend time and patience, both of which are tried and tested ways of clearing your system of cannabis.
If you have neither time nor patience, we’re afraid there’s no quick fix solution. Detoxing might mask or hide cannabis and its compounds but there are still no guarantees here.