At some point, you must have experienced a bloated face, red and puffy eyes, as well as dehydrated skin after smoking. Have you ever stopped to think and ask yourself why this happens whenever you smoke? Does using weed cause vasodilation. The answer is maybe.
What is Vasodilation?
Vasodilation is a mechanism to enhance blood flow to areas of the body that are lacking oxygen and/or nutrients. The vasodilation causes a decrease in systemic vascular resistance (SVR) and an increase in blood flow, resulting in a reduction of blood pressure.
The word “vasodilation” is used to describe the opening up of the body’s blood vessels.
It is the opposite of “vasoconstriction” where the blood vessels close up within the body. It is a temporary situation. It occurs naturally in your body in response to triggers such as low oxygen levels, a decrease in available nutrients, and increases in temperature. It causes the widening of your blood vessels, which in turn increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure.
Consuming marijuana could bring about vasodilation. When using cannabis, blood flow to some parts of the body is restricted or reduced. Oxygen transportation is also slowed down and not quickly delivered as promptly. While not dangerous, vasodilation can occur.
Epidemiological and experimental studies have demonstrated that the ingestion of alcohol is associated with an immediate decreasing of blood pressure (an effect typical of vasodilators), which is followed by a rebounding elevation of blood pressure.
The easiest way to know this is happening is by the obvious reddening of the eyes, as well as the puffy/bloated face of the user. Unfortunately, many are not aware of this physiological mechanism, so they pin it on smoke irritation.
Some medical practitioners prescribe cannabis-based medications to patients suffering from glaucoma, high blood pressure, etc. This is because of the vasodilating response that would be induced by these drugs to help lower the blood pressure.
Vasodilation and Cannabis
While researchers have been able to find useful medical applications for cannabis in the human body, they have still not discovered the full extent of the effects of cannabis consumption on other organs in the body. And the risks involved are most times underestimated. The vasodilating effects of cannabis are one of the physiological responses of the body that have been investigated.
What Makes Cannabis a Vasodilator?
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive element present in cannabis. It is the agent that causes a noticeable increase in the heart rate, as well as a lowered blood pressure.
Another vasodilating effect is dizziness. This is because THC reacts with cannabinoid receptors present around the body, most especially the eyes to induce these effects.
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Although THC is not the only cannabinoid responsible for all these, it is responsible for the bulk of these reactions. The amount of THC present in the cannabis strain ingested determines the extent of vasodilation in the user’s body.
For example, consuming a cannabis strain with less than 15% THC might result in little or no noticeable reddening of the eyes, compared to consuming over 30% THC cannabis strain. It also depends on the user’s tolerance, because everyone’s body anatomy is unique.
What Causes Reddening Of the Eyes?
The main reason your eyes get red — or bloodshot and bloated — when you use marijuana is due to vasodilation being set off by THC and other cannabinoids present in cannabis. When your eyes redden and get puffy, it indicates that there is an increased blood flow to your eyeball due to the dilation of blood vessels and capillaries around the eye area.
After the effects of the drugs begin to wear off, the capillaries and blood vessels gradually begin to close off and constrict. Till everything is back to normal.
Can Vasodilation Be Halted?
Vasodilation is a subconscious response, hence it cannot be prevented from occurring. Neither can it be halted when it has started. It only stops when the last effects of cannabis wear off in the body. You have zero control over the workings of vasodilation, nor vasoconstriction.
However, you can put in the effort to mask/cover up the effects of using cannabis by hiding your bloated face and puffy eyes.
Like I mentioned above vasodilation can’t be stopped, however with a few techniques you can effectively mask the signs. Here are some ways you can hide your puffy reds eyes effectively.
RELATED: Why Smoking Weed Makes Your Eyes Red
Eye drops—Allergy and Artificial: Allergy drops help with bloodshot eyes. It effectively reduces discomfort and redness. If it is itchy, it also helps soothe the eyes. Artificial teardrops can also help, although it is not as efficient as allergy eye drops, which is not surprising.
Both drops contain Tetryzoline, which acts as a constricting agent for the blood vessels. And both drops are easy to get at the nearest pharmacy over the counter.
Using Sunglasses: This is a perfect way to hide the use of marijuana, especially when in a public gathering with people you do not stare at your bloodshot eyes.
For example, you can use it for a lecture in college. It’s simple, less expensive, and fast to just pick your glasses, put them on and go about basking in your high. The only downside to this is that you cannot wear sunglasses at night, so as not to damage your eyesight.
Doing away with caffeinated drink: Coffee is also like cannabis, they are both vasodilators. Stay hydrated. Take a very cold bath if you can or put ice bags over your eyes.
Calmly wait for symptoms to subside: The redness will even be reduced and everything will go back to normal. The duration may vary from 1-12 hours depending on your body’s tolerance, weight, metabolism. And the strain and dose of cannabis ingested. Choose strains of cannabis with low THC.
Vasodilation is a temporary issue which can be partially mitigated with some simple steps. There isn’t a long term danger.