Whether you have a scheduled workplace drug test in the near future, or you’re just trying to flush THC from your system for detox and tolerance break purposes, we’ve got you covered. If you’ve read some of our previous articles, you know that we don’t recommend cheating on your drug test as it can get you in trouble with the police or fired from your job. On the other hand, helping your body flush THC faster with a few tricks never hurt anybody and is, in fact, highly recommended.
In previous articles, we’ve covered similar topics like whether you’ll pass a drug test if you’ve smoked 1 week ago, getting cannabinoids out of your hair before a hair follicle test, and whether secondhand smoke can result in a positive test result. In this article, we’ll see whether detoxing cannabinoids and cannabis metabolites from your system through sweating is an option, but first, let’s go over the basics when it comes to detoxing from weed.
How Long Does THC Stay In the Body?
After consuming weed, cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and others bind to the cannabinoid receptors in our endocannabinoid system, producing their psychoactive, sedative, anti-inflammatory, and other effects, after which they slowly start to flush from the system in the form of metabolites. Most cannabis drug tests are designed to detect THC metabolites, the by-products of THC, so whether a test result is positive or negative is determined by the federal cutoff THC levels.
The time it takes for the concentration of THC and THC metabolites (THC-COOH) to be reduced by 50%, or the elimination half-life of THC, is about 1.3 days for an infrequent user and 5-13 days for frequent users. So, if you’ve smoked weed once, you’re likely to get a negative drug test after about 3 days.
However, cannabinoids such as THC are fat soluble and, as a result, they end up in the fat cells in the body from where they’re gradually excreted. This is why it usually takes a longer time for your body to release THC and other metabolites that have been stored, especially if you regularly use cannabis. And since each body is different, there are various factors that affect how fast or slow these metabolites will flush out, so let’s see what they are.
4 Factors That Determine How Long THC Stays in the Body
In order to better understand how THC is flushed out of your system, let’s see what factors influence the speed at which this will happen:
- Your body fat percentage (the higher the percentage, the longer it will take for your body to get rid of the THC metabolites);
- Whether you’re a regular or an infrequent cannabis user (as we’ve mentioned above, regular users need a longer time to detox compared to infrequent users);
- Your health and metabolism (similar to how people metabolize food at a different rate, the same goes for metabolizing cannabis);
- How much you consume (the quality and the amount of weed you consume will also affect how long it takes for your body to metabolize marijuana).
Common Marijuana Drug Tests
Now that you know how the body processes weed, you’ll better understand the different cannabis drug tests and how they work. To figure out if your body is “cleansed” from weed, you’ll need to determine the following:
- Amount of THC you’ve been taking, and how often you’ve been taking it as higher doses consumed more frequently will need a longer time to get eliminated from the body;
- The type of test you’re taking;
- The cutoff levels on the test.
The typical cannabis tests that are used by employers include:
- Urine drug tests (the least expensive drug test which has a detection window between 3 to 30 days);
- Blood tests (slightly more invasive type of testing which shows the presence of THC and THC metabolites even after a few hours of marijuana consumption);
- Saliva tests (generally offer a greater accuracy, however they don’t test for the presence of THC metabolites, just THC);
- Hair tests (the least common method of testing since it’s the most expensive one, though it has the highest detection window out of all tests);
- Specialty cannabinoid testing (this type of testing is slowly becoming more prevalent as it tests for other types of cannabinoids in your system, such as CBG, CBN, THCV, and others).
What Is a Marijuana Detox?
To pass a cannabis drug test, a user needs to eliminate the cannabinoid toxins left behind in the body’s fat deposits, which is best done by detoxing your body from weed. Heavy users can even experience cannabis withdrawal symptoms and other side effects that come from the detoxing process, which can be reduced with enough sleep, hydration, healthy food, and exercise.
You can cleanse your body from THC using detox drinks, cranberry juice, green tea, by doing a niacin flush and creatine supplementation, using sure jell or certo, drinking electrolytes, and taking advantage of other detox kits. But can THC be flushed out by sweating?
Can You Sweat Out THC?
When discussing eliminating cannabinoids and cannabinoid metabolites through sweating, the first thing that people think of is doing cardio as well as a sauna detox which is becoming quite popular in the media. But is it efficient? (Wong et al, 2013; Westin et al, 2014)
A lot of drugs can be traced in human sweat, including amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, and others. According to a 2008 study, cannabis can be traced in the sweat for as long as 4 weeks after oral consumption for chronic marijuana users. And since a lot of cannabis users today are looking for methods to detox faster in order to pass their mandatory workplace test, many believe that you can eliminate these drugs by sweating profusely inside a sauna. While this may reduce the quantity of THC and THC metabolites in the body, and even reduce withdrawal symptoms according to a study published in 2018, it isn’t guaranteed that you’ll get a clean drug test since drug testing is very precise.
For the purpose of this study, 109 individuals were placed in a sauna in a long-term abuse treatment center as part of their detoxing therapy. The detoxing method used in this study, called the Hubbard sauna detoxification method, was well tolerated among patients and had a 99% completion rate which meant there weren’t any cases of overhydration, dehydration, or heat illness. After completion, most of the participants experienced mental and physical improvements as well as a reduction of the Addiction Severity Index.
While saunas aren’t readily available to a lot of cannabis users, you can try a sauna detox at home by turning the shower on and closing your shower doors to contain the steam inside, but don’t rely on this as a way to pass your mandatory drug test. As we’ve mentioned above, THC metabolites bind to the fat cells and not even sweating and heavy cardio can eliminate them as fast as people would believe they do.
While doing cardio, going to the sauna, and drinking lots of water may help you get rid of some of the residue THC metabolites after cannabis consumption, if you’re a frequent user, you have to give it at least a week if not more for the THC metabolites to be eliminated from your system. Your best bet would be to try and detox naturally and try some of the detox methods we mentioned above, as sweating by itself won’t be of a lot of help.
Wong, A., Montebello, M. E., Norberg, M. M., Rooney, K., Lintzeris, N., Bruno, R., Booth, J., Arnold, J. C., & McGregor, I. S. (2013). Exercise increases plasma THC concentrations in regular cannabis users. Drug and alcohol dependence, 133(2), 763–767. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.07.031