Cannabis and coffee are very popular in today’s world and many people like to combine them and enjoy their effects. But some may not be clear how these two substances work together on the human body. There are many individuals whose morning ritual includes drinking coffee and smoking marijuana. Such a high first thing in the morning is an ideal start to the day for some, but after all, it is a combination of two flavors that may not quite fit together. The taste of coffee can seem a little bitter after smoking a joint, and the taste of cannabis after coffee can be a little unpleasant. So let’s find out how these two substances affect our bodies and what the experts in the field think.
Coffee and its effect on endocannabinoid system
A 2018 study in the Journal of Internal Medicine examined various metabolites – substances that are produced when food, drugs and other substances are metabolized – in the urine of coffee drinkers. Study participants abstained from coffee for one month, consumed four cups a day for another month, and then consumed eight cups a day for one month.
The study found that as coffee consumption increased, metabolites of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) decreased, meaning that the ECS began to metabolize less and less as the study participants increased their coffee consumption.
“From this finding, we can conclude that coffee, and I would speculate caffeine, may slow down the endocannabinoid system,” said Dr. Shawn Meirovici, ND, a naturopathic physician and cannabis expert.
“Caffeine is a stimulator of neural activity … and endocannabinoids are inhibitors of neural activity. It seems that coffee/caffeine may reduce this inhibitory activity, thereby altering the calming [effect] of our endocannabinoid system, making it more difficult to calm the body,” Dr. Meirovici said.
In other words, according to Dr. Meirovici, the study results suggest that coffee or caffeine may actually inhibit the ECS metabolism at a normal rate, making it harder for you to relax.
How do cannabis and coffee interact with the human body?
There aren’t many studies on the interaction of cannabis and coffee in the human body, but a 2014 study on squirrel monkeys examined THC and MSX-3, a caffeine-like compound. When the monkeys consumed low doses of the caffeine compound, they wanted less THC; however, when they consumed high doses of caffeine, they wanted more THC.
“It is possible that low doses of caffeine did not have as much effect on the ECS, and therefore the monkeys were satisfied with their ‘high,’ but at high doses, the monkeys may have slowed their endocannabinoid function and therefore needed more cannabinoids to achieve a satisfactory ‘high,'” Dr. Meirovici said.
Essentially, Dr. Meirovici said that since the squirrel monkeys were ingesting larger doses of THC when consuming larger doses of caffeine, the study results suggest that large doses of caffeine can negatively affect a person getting high, leading to the need for larger amounts of THC.
When it comes to memory, a 2012 rat study examined how the combination of caffeine and THC impairs working memory – that is, short-term memory – more than THC alone.
Rats were given different combinations of THC and caffeine and then subjected to memory tests to see if they would respond to light patterns and delays preceded by the release of food pellets. At the end of the study, the rats performed better in terms of memory after consuming caffeine or THC than after consuming caffeine and THC together.
Ingesting or Inhaling cannabis?
When inhaled, cannabis enters the bloodstream quickly through the lungs, while ingested cannabis is largely metabolised in the liver. “THC, or delta-9-THC, enters the bloodstream and peaks after 10 to 15 minutes and is almost completely eliminated after 75 minutes. When edible cannabis is consumed, most of the THC is metabolised in the liver and converted into a compound called 11-OH-THC, which is three to seven times more potent than delta-9-THC,” said Dr Meirovici.
He also points out that edibles take nearly six hours to reach their peak in the bloodstream, and therefore induce a much longer and potentially more intense high.
In addition, we know that caffeine is also metabolized by the liver. “There seems to be a much greater potential for interactions (both desirable and undesirable) when consuming coffee and any edible form of cannabis,” said Dr. Meirovici.
Because both THC and caffeine are metabolized by the same liver enzyme, it is “more likely that there will be a combined effect where both compounds either enhance or attenuate each other,” Dr. Meirovici said.
Cannabis and coffee – important note
There is still much we do not know about the effects of cannabis and coffee on the human body, and no two bodies are exactly the same. However, if you’re healthy and have a good relationship with caffeine and cannabis, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy them together. Always keep in mind that “you need to start slow and take it easy”.
Dr. Meirovici advises caution for those living with impaired liver function, memory disorders or dementia, and anyone with a history of addiction, as coffee and cannabis could exacerbate these conditions.
If you are a coffee lover and are looking for a great cannabis variety for that morning ritual, you can check out Nukaseeds varieties and you are sure to find the right variety for your morning pleasure.
Published by Jan Veselý02/03/2023