Cannabis Myth #5: Holding Your Breath Makes You Higher

When most cannabis users smoke or vape for the first time, their friends tell them to hold it in their lungs to get more THC out of it. But this is another myth that science does not support, and unlike a lot of the myths that circulate around cannabis, it is mostly users who believe in it. In fact, holding in your smoke is such a part of the experience, it is hard to break the habit even if you know better.

Think about breathing air. Inhale-exhale is continuous, we never pause to let our lungs extract more oxygen. This is because the lungs extract all they can almost instantaneously, so we simply exhale about 3/4 of the oxygen from each breath. Continuous, slow, deep breaths keep air moving over the membranes, exposing as much oxygen as possible for the body to absorb. In fact, holding our breath actually causes oxygen deficiencies and makes us feel light-headed. Cannabis is the same: slow deep breaths maximize the cannabinoid exposure to the lungs and let the body absorb as much as possible before exhaling.

Pot smokers the world over will say that they have tried it and they know they get higher, but think again about holding your breath. These users are not getting higher because they are extracting more THC from their toke, they are getting lightheaded from holding their breath.

Some researchers have even suggested that holding your breath just makes the smoke more damaging to those membranes. When air stops moving in our lungs, the tars and toxins have time to settle onto the membranes and they stay there when you do breathe again. While there is no evidence that there is a link between smoking cannabis and getting cancer (mostly because of the cancer-preventing properties of the cannabis), more tar on your lungs is still going to affect how well they work.

So I challenge everyone on October 17 to take a deep breath and relax. Then try another. Then maybe try a deep breath of clean air without the smoke.

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