As a cannabis consumer, you’ve likely experienced the “munchies,” the increased appetite associated with cannabis use. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use food to intensify your cannabis experience? While many cannabis users turn to chips, candy, or other snack foods to satiate their cravings, science shows us that there are several foods whose natural properties can work in concert with cannabis, boosting its effects and amplifying your experience. Here, we’ll discuss several different food options you can use in conjunction with cannabis to intensify your high.
Mango fruit is more than just a delicious addition to smoothies, sticky rice, or fruit salads. It contains a high concentration of a class of chemicals called terpenes, which contribute to its intense aroma. One of these terpenes, called myrcene, is thought to both speed up the onset and extend the duration of the effects of cannabis, making mangoes an excellent accompaniment to your favorite mode of cannabis consumption.
How does myrcene affect your high? The short answer is that it, like some of the other foods we’ll discuss later, helps THC to cross the blood-brain barrier, making you feel its psychoactive effects more easily. The way this works is fairly simple: myrcene enters the bloodstream and then binds with various cannabinoid receptors. By attaching to these receptors, myrcene “primes” them for cannabis so that they respond more efficiently to cannabinoids (such as THC) later on, increasing the sensation and duration of your high.
Because of the chemical mechanics of myrcene, it’s most effective when taken about an hour before consumption of cannabis, as this allows the myrcene time to travel through the bloodstream and bind with cannabinoid receptors. Use mango in a smoothie before you plan to take cannabis (frozen mango still contains myrcene and is available year-round, while fresh mangoes may be less available in the winter months), or split a fresh mango with a friend before sharing a toke.
Who knew eating your vegetables could help intensify your high? Broccoli is particularly high in the terpene Beta-caryophyllene, which binds to CB2 receptors in a similar way to the myrcene in mangoes. This primes the receptors, making them more responsive to THC. The result is a more intense, longer-lasting high. It can also work synergistically with cannabis to reduce anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. For this reason, broccoli makes an excellent accompaniment for cannabis indica consumption, as it can increase the mellow, relaxing properties of the herb.
Like mangoes, broccoli is most effective when consumed about an hour before intake of cannabis. Have some with dinner before tucking in for an evening joint, bowl, or vape session. Hate the taste of broccoli? Try roasting it in the oven with some olive oil and herbs (more on which to use in a moment) or, if all else fails, dousing steamed broccoli in cheese sauce.
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and seasonings do more than just enhance the flavor of our food, they can also enhance your cannabis experience. Some herbs, such as sage, thyme, and bay leaves, contain the terpene called pinene, a natural bronchodilator that increases the surface area in your lungs. This allows more space for cannabis to pass through to the bloodstream and increases the duration and intensity of your high. It should be noted, of course, that this will only work to enhance cannabis taken through inhalation methods, such as smoking or vaping; it won’t have any effect on the high produced by edibles or tinctures.
Another class of herbs containing the terpene called limonene can also amplify the effects of cannabis. Limonene imparts a lemon-like flavor (think lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemongrass, lemon mint, etc.) and can decrease some of the negative side effects of cannabis consumption, such as anxiety and paranoia. Limonene-containing herbs can be sprinkled on food or, in the case of lemon balm, lemon mint, and lemon verbena, brewed into a tea. When taken ahead of cannabis consumption, these herbs can help stave off the anxiety and depression felt by some cannabis users. As a bonus, many limonene-containing herbs are easy to grow on a windowsill or patio, making organic, all-natural cannabis enhancement that much more accessible.
If you’re trying to intensify your cannabis experience, you may want to steer clear of black pepper, as some studies suggest it may have the effect of making you feel less high. That said, if you find yourself having consumed more cannabis than you intended, try consuming or smelling black pepper, as it may help bring you back “down to earth.”
Sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates and B-vitamins, both of which have been shown to increase serotonin production in humans. This increased level of serotonin can drive feelings of well-being that work in conjunction with the feel-good properties of cannabis. Note that, when consumed with lots of protein, carbs can actually decrease serotonin production, so you should keep the protein to a minimum when using this method. Try sweet potatoes baked, boiled, mashed, roasted, or (my personal favorite) as a classic sweet potato pie.
Sweet potatoes, like their orange counterpart the pumpkin, are also high in vitamin E. This is important to note because diets low in vitamin E have been associated with a higher risk of depression. Boosting your vitamin E intake can bolster your mood and alleviate symptoms of depression. If you’re using cannabis to help fight depression, consider upping your intake of vitamin E in conjunction with your regular treatment plan.
Are you looking for a way to speed up the effects of edibles? There is evidence to show that nuts may help THC cross the blood-brain barrier more effectively, allowing for faster absorption and, potentially, an extended high. This is because nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which bind to cannabinoids and assist them across the blood-brain barrier more easily. Foods like salmon and other fish, as well as flaxseed, also contain high levels of omega-3s and may help amplify the effects of cannabis as well.
Try consuming a handful of nuts before taking an edible, or incorporate them into the edibles themselves if you’re making them at home. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, and macadamia nuts are excellent sources of omega-3s and can be easily incorporated into a wide variety of edibles, from brownies to cookies to muffins to cakes. They can also be used to crust chicken or fish, and can be added to vegetables for texture and flavor.
Black or Green Tea
Both black and green teas contain an antioxidant called catechin. Catechin binds with CB1 receptors in the brain, inducing feelings of peace, well-being, and relaxation. When taken in conjunction with cannabis, black and green teas can work synergistically with THC, amplifying its mood-elevating and euphoric properties. Brew a mug of your favorite black or green tea to sip while you smoke or vape to elevate mood and ease anxiety.
We discuss this option cautiously, as consumption of cannabis in conjunction with alcohol has been known to dramatically increase both blood-THC levels and level of impairment. This can lead to the phenomenon known commonly as “the spins,” the feeling of disorientation and vertigo often experienced when cannabis and alcohol are combined.
Because of their ability to enhance each other’s effects, you should use extreme caution when attempting to use alcohol and cannabis in conjunction with one another. Try consuming a single beer with a bowl or a few puffs of a vaporizer before further indulging to avoid that dreaded uncomfortably high feeling and potential negative side effects.
There are a variety of different foods you can use to modify and enhance your experience with cannabis. Whether you’re enjoying a bowl before bed to aid sleep, consuming cannabis to ease chronic pain, or simply using the herb recreationally, there are natural steps you can take to intensify the aspects of your cannabis experience that are most desirable to you while minimizing any unpleasant side effects.