What Is the Difference Between a Body High and Head High?

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What Is the Difference Between a Body High and Head High?
Whether you’re new to smoking weed or you’re a seasoned user who’s just curious about the difference between a body high and a mind high (and the science behind it), this is a useful nugget of information to know. Both for your own pleasure and also, y’know, maybe you can help a friend out one day who wants to fall asleep more easily but is reaching for a sativa strain.

So, what causes both types of highs? What does a head high really feel like? And when would people go for one over the other?

Mind (or head) highs are where your brain is more active and becomes more engaged after you’ve consumed cannabis—as its name suggests, you mainly feel it in your brain. Your imagination might go into overdrive, and you’ll find it easier to come up with cool and unique ideas for a creative project.

Body highs, on the other hand, are all about easing the stress on your body. You’ll feel a tingling, your aches will melt away through your fingers and toes, and you’ll feel a general sense of relaxation. Pro-tip: Generally, sativa does not make you sleepy, and if you want this type of relaxing body high, you should go for an indica.

Really, any strain of weed and any edible can get you a body high. The degree to which you’ll feel that high may be different (usually body highs are caused by indica strains like death bubba), but if you’re just looking to try getting high, it doesn’t really matter too much which strain you choose.

The Body High from Edibles

If you were wondering what a body high is like or how long a body high lasts, the answer is: it varies. Not super helpful, we know, but this is where experience in having smoked (or eaten edibles) before comes in handy. Every person’s body is different, especially in the way it reacts to cannabis in edible-form. Depending on your weight, metabolism, and experience with consuming edibles, your high might last a few hours, or all night.

Some people even report waking up high the next day, so if you’re having edibles for the first time, make sure to clear your schedule beforehand. Otherwise, you’ll end up disappointing someone (or a lot of people, if you’re social).

The effects of cannabis edibles themselves can also vary. Some people experience full-on couch lock, meaning they’re pretty much glued to their couch for a few hours, while others are still able to function relatively normally. Of course, this goes for both medical and recreational marijuana edibles—and if you’re smoking weed as opposed to having an edible, the high will generally be less likely to put you out of commission for hours.

Head High vs. Body High: The Science Behind It

So now we know that indica strains can glue you to your couch and possibly prevent you from keeping up with your social engagements—possibly for a couple of hours. Cool. (Although in most cases, people smoke indica before they go to bed and everything works out perfectly.)

But why does weed impact is in this way?

One of the biggest reasons for the differences in weed’s effects on our bodies is the method by which we consume weed.

When we smoke weed, the cannabinoids in the plant go straight to our lungs. They don’t have to be digested or anything; they just go directly into the blood, then the brain. From there, once the cannabinoids hit the brain, there’s not much else to it: we get high.

On the other hand, when we eat some gummies or have a weed-filled Rice Krispie, the cannabinoids go to our livers instead, where THC is created. The receptors are different from the ones in our brains, which affects how the weed makes us feel.

Essentially, smoking weed sends cannabinoids to our brains: head high.

Eating weed sends cannabinoids to our livers: body high.

What Impacts Our Highs?

Smoking versus eating versus other methods of consuming weed can impact the type of high we get.

Another key factor: the strain of weed being consumed.

But why is it about different strains that give them unique effects? Dr. Aury Holtzman, a physician based in California who specializes in cannabis, believes that’s the terpene levels that determine whether a strain of weed gives us a body high or a head high.

Sidenote: terpenes are basically essential oils, unique to each strain, that give them their recognizable aromas.

“Historically, there are two species of cannabis with different terpenes,” says Dr. Holtzman. “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. 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.”

Can You Stay High Overnight?

We know that weed is strong enough to help most people fall asleep more easily at night. But can an edible or three really last you all through the night until the next morning?

The short answer is yes.

Anecdotally, people have reported “weed hangovers” (usually nowhere near as bad as hangovers resulting from drinking too much) with symptoms such as fatigue, dry mouth, and mild headaches.

Even though research is limited so far (thanks, outdated laws!), we do know that it can take over 30 days after you’ve stopped smoking for your urine to be weed-free. One suggested hypothesis for this is the fact that our bodies store cannabis in our fat tissues, releasing it into the blood gradually. So… yes. Being high overnight is not out of the question.


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