For a lot of seasoned cannabis connoisseurs, coughing after deep inhalation isn’t cool. It’s a sign of amateur hour, or perhaps a batch of ultra-harsh cannabis they’d rather not lower themselves to. In any case, it’s not the kind of thing they support or celebrate.
By contrast, you also have those who see cannabis coughing as part and parcel of the whole experience. Rather than criticising folks who fall into coughing fits, they salute them for giving it a go.
Interestingly, however, there’s also a third camp of cannabis consumers – one that believes coughing is actually a good thing. As far as they’re concerned, coughing like crazy after deep inhalation can actually get you higher. It sounds like pure garbage on the surface, but then starts to make a least a little sense when you think about it.
Gasping for Breath
You take a huge hit from a bong or blunt, the smoke hits your lungs and you immediately explode into a fit of coughing. In doing so, your entire approach to breathing changes – normal breaths being replaced by huge gulps of air going in and out of your lungs. In which case, it’s sensible to assume that all this extra air you’re inhaling would push more THC into your bloodstream through your lungs…right?
If so, this would go some way towards explaining why you might well feel higher than hell after a coughing fit. To a degree, it follows the same lines as the theory that holding cannabis smoke in your lungs for longer gets you higher. The more THC you force into your body through your lungs, the better.
As far as the science of the whole thing goes, however, it’s perhaps not quite as straightforward as it seems.
Cannabis and Coughing
First and foremost, it’s been proven on multiple occasions that holding your breath after inhaling cannabis does not result in greater quantities of THC entering the bloodstream. This is primarily due to the fact that human lungs are exceptionally efficient, extracting all the THC they can almost instantaneously from the smoke. Hence, holding your breath doesn’t really make any difference – it might just result in greater irritation to your airways.
Meanwhile, coughing can be just as counterproductive as you’d expect it to be. Oftentimes, a coughing fit begins slightly before the cannabis makes its way fully into the lungs. In which case, coughing the entire cloud of the stuff back out before it has time to do its thing isn’t going to do you any favours. Even if you manage to get all the good stuff where it needs to be, the huge gulps of air you take in when coughing aren’t going to make even a bit of difference.
Fair enough, but why is it that in both instances, you come out feeling higher? Why do so many cannabis users claim that holding their breath or coughing after inhalation intensifies the effects?
It’s actually quite simple – a case of minor oxygen deprivation.
The longer you hold your breath, the more your body cries out for oxygen. The longer and more intensive that coughing fit, the less oxygen your lungs absorb into your bloodstream. As a result, you start feeling lightheaded and wobbly on your feet, which when combined with the effects of THC can feel like a genuinely intense high.
So while it’s not to say that holding in a hit or coughing after inhalation will do you any harm, it’s also not going to do you much good. At least, as far as THC absorption into the bloodstream is concerned.