The Real Difference Between Body Highs and Head Highs
Weed is great but weed is also a mysterious creature. Why is it that sometimes, no matter how long you keep your greedy hands on your friend’s joint and take many deep and very serious inhales, you just can’t get high? Then other times, maybe even the very next day, after a half puff from a one-hitter, you’re sitting there in a cold-sweat and completely baked?
While smoking can yield unpredictable results, edibles are another complicated monster. Rest assured, if you’re planning to drink an entire bottle of weed lube, then you’ll absolutely be fucked up fast. Since that isn’t a predicament most of us will face, your biggest edible-related issue is likely waiting for it to kick in; this can turn into an intense test of self-control, where you’re tempted to overeat yourself into a stupor, later realizing you’ve been staring at a blank wall for hours.
Beyond this delicate recipe of finding the right way to attain a successful high, there are even different kinds of highs, with the most common being head and body highs. The two are very different, with head highs described to me by Lola* as “incredibly trippy and fun, everything becomes more vivid. Everything is interesting and TV is amazing,” and body highs described to me by Kara* as “extremely relaxing from my fingers to toes, it’s like my insides are glitter and my chronic back aches go away.”
While most people have experienced the two different highs, there’s surprisingly very little available literature about them, aside from weed forums where contributors are busy educating lurkers that indica means “in da couch.”
Broadly spoke to Dr. Aury Holtzman, a medical doctor based in Huntington Beach, California who specializes in marijuana and has evaluated over 11,000 patients to determine their medical marijuana needs, and asked him to explain the difference between those glorious head and body highs.
In order to understand why we get different kinds of highs, we need a cursory understanding of how our bodies get high in the first place. The human body has evolved to include an endocannabinoid system with various neurotransmitters and receptors. “It’s like a lock and key,” said Dr. Holtzman describing how neurotransmitters, the messenger chemicals in the brain, bind with receptors. Some neurotransmitters are believed to regulate specific processes—serotonin for mood, sleep and learning, and dopamine for the brain’s “reward system.”
In 1988, a cannabinoid receptor was discovered in the brain and its peripheries, suggesting that our brains already have a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter similar to those found in marijuana. That neurotransmitter native to the body is called anandamide and comes from the Sanskrit word for “bliss.” It plays a role in the body that impacts pain management, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility. Dr. Holtzman simplifies it by saying, “It tends to make people feel good.” Cannabinoids from cannabis plants bind with our natural brain receptors, activating the overall system and getting us high.
So, what happens in our bodies to make us experience different head and body highs?
One of the biggest factors is the way you ingest your weed. “When you smoke, the cannabinoids go straight into your lungs,” said Dr. Holtzman. “They go right into your blood supply, into your brain, across the blood-brain barrier and then you get the high.” It’s different when you eat that phat pot brownie. “[The cannabinoids] don’t go into your blood, they go to the liver and then the liver will convert the THC,” said Dr. Holtzman. “You get a slightly different effect on the receptor.” So basically, when cannabinoids go straight to your lungs, you’re more likely to feel a head high. When they go through your liver, it’s more of a body high.
Another thing that can affect your high is marijuana strain. Dr. Holtzman believes marijuana plants are very smart and over time they have evolved to contain different terpenes, which are essential oils that impact a plant’s smell and strain. “The head versus the body high is due to the different terpene levels,” explained Dr. Holtzman. Historically, there are two species of cannabis with different terpenes: indica and sativa. “Indica is known as the body high, with a focused calm feeling and sativas were known for the head high, used for more cerebral things,” said Dr. Holtzman. “When you think of sativa, you think of enhanced, raised elevated but the side effects of sativas can be too much anxiety or panic attacks.”
And while it may sound easy to determine your highs by your strains, it’s become tougher over the years as all weed plant strains have become hybridized. “There are very few plants that would be pure indica or sativa,” said Dr. Holtzman. “All these strains out there are hybrids but some give you more indica effects, other mores sativa effects.” So if you’re smoking an indica and experiencing more of a head high, there’s a chance that your strain is more hybrid than your dealer led you to believe.
So what do you do when you’ve smoked or eaten too much? Kara* told me that when she needs to not be high anymore, she exercises. “It makes me feel like I’m burning out all the THC in my system,” she said. I asked Dr. Holtzman if there is any validity to that and surprisingly, he said yes. “The exercise mobilizes your blood which helps you excrete [THC] faster.” Which explains why you might not feel that edible if you’re out skating or doing anything that isn’t lying immobile on your couch while listening to Fetty Wap on vinyl.
“While medicating with THC, it’s really important to stay hydrated and keep your electrolytes in balance,” adds Dr. Holtzman. So the next time you got too baked and need to go somewhere and not seriously weird everyone out, do some jumping jacks and chug some water before heading out.
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Weed can make you feel euphoric and buzzed, or it can just make you want to melt into the couch like that girl in those anti-drug commercials. We asked a doctor about what causes different highs.
The Differences Between a Head High and a Body High
Do you need to feel alert to get your creative juices flowing? Or are you looking to bliss out at the end of a long day? You may consider either a head high or a body high. If you don’t know what the difference is, don’t worry – Planet 13 is here to provide you with the full guide on the two different types of highs. Whether you’re a complete newbie or an experienced cannabis cultivar, read on for more information on the differences between a head high and a body high.
Sativa vs. Indica
Before we start on the two different highs, let’s talk about the two types of cannabis strains that affect them, sativa and indica.
Sativa is a long, tall plant with thin, light green fan-like leaves. You might consider a sativa if you require some creative inspiration. Sativa strains can induce a head high, which may empower you to think faster, act more quickly, and feel less inhibited at social gatherings.
Indica is associated with more of a ‘bedtime buzz’, or what we call a body high, leaving you feeling relaxed, calm, and ready to catch up on some sleep. It is a shorter plant with darker, broader leaves, and could be the perfect strain for a relaxing night. Indica strains can cause the ‘couch-lock’ effect: that pleasant, dreamy feeling you have before melting into your sofa and dozing off.
While the sativa vs. indica debate continues, the truth is that very few strains are of an entirely pure variety. Indica or sativa-dominant hybrid strains contain a higher blend of each plant. If a strain is called a hybrid, it combines an equal mix of the two. As the largest cannabis dispensary in the world, we’re clear about what we offer and display strains as sativa, indica, or hybrid.
What Is A Body High?
A body high is commonly associated with indicas and describes a relaxed, chilled cannabis experience. You could feel your muscles relax, the tension draining from your body, and finally get a good night’s sleep. Science is yet to take a closer look into the reported differences between sativa vs. indica, but recent studies on CBD and anxiety published in The Permanente Journal reported that anxiety levels decreased over three months for those taking CBD.
But what actually happens to the body? The body high is actually caused by how cannabis interacts with your brain, effectively calming down the rapid communications between cells in your nervous system and triggering that feeling of intense relaxation and euphoria. That’s why despite it being called a body high your brain has the opportunity to relax.
What Is A Head High?
Our cannabis dispensary stocks sativa strains to help you achieve that head high. A head high relates to increased energy levels, motivation, and rush of creative thinking often associated with consuming a sativa. There has been research surrounding the stimulating effects of cannabis on the brain to delve deeper into this high.
Head high experiences can make you feel more physically alert, and you may find yourself making quicker mental connections. Whether you’re about to embark on some exercise, attend a large social gathering, or need to experience intense creativity, a head high can create that next-level cerebral experience to get you into the zone.
When Are Head Highs And Body Highs Most Useful?
At Planet 13, we aim to be the best Vegas dispensary for cannabis resources and answer any questions you may have. Ask yourself the following questions before embarking on a head or body high journey.
- What Time Of Day Is It?
If it’s early morning and you need to be alert, a body high will not be useful. Attributes of body highs include increased sleepiness and decreased motivation, so taking an indica in the evening should help you relax, while taking some in the morning may mean you doze through the day.
- What Sort Of Person Are You?
If you’re naturally an anxious or highly energized person, head highs may be too active and anxiety-inducing. If you’re already able to feel alert, it might be better to consider an indica to relax more effectively in the evenings.
- Why Are You Taking This Strain?
Considering why you’re taking this particular strain will help you make the best of the benefits. For instance, an indica can induce the munchies, so if you’re taking cannabis to increase your appetite, a body high might be the one for you.
- How Are You Consuming Cannabis?
The way you take the strain will also impact the intenseness of the high. Properly researching into edibles, vapes and all the different delights on our menu will help you create the best possible experience.
Do Any Other Factors Affect Your High?
Planet 13’s Las Vegas dispensary team researches new updates and thoughts on cannabis. One of the most exciting innovations of our time is the expectancy effect, which explores how if we expect to get a particular result, our brain often helps us to reach that outcome. So if someone raves to you about their head high from Product X, you might expect and have that experience yourself. It doesn’t take away from your high, as your brain is actually working with you to help achieve your desired outcome.
There’s also the entourage effect, which depends on different factors within that cannabis itself. There are hundreds of chemical compounds found naturally in the plant, known as cannabinoids and terpenes, and they all interact with your brain differently. It also depends on the levels of THC in the strain. Low THC creates a more mellow experience, while higher THC levels produce a more intense high. This entourage of effects can create vastly different highs for each person, offering a truly unique experience.
As the biggest dispensary Vegas has to offer, consider us your cannabis consultants. We’re also here to help you shop safely during COVID-19. Find out about how our Las Vegas strip dispensary is ensuring you can purchase today. We’re here to provide you with products as securely and efficiently as possible, from curbside pickup to delivery and safe store hours. Contact us for further advice about our services and how we can help you today.
The Differences Between a Head High and a Body High Do you need to feel alert to get your creative juices flowing? Or are you looking to bliss out at the end of a long day? You may consider