What is vasodilation and why does it happen when you smoke weed?

At some point, you must have experienced a bloated face, red and puffy eyes, and dehydrated skin after smoking. Have you ever thought about it and wondered why this happens when you smoke? Or do you attribute it to the smoke irritation from the cannabis used?

There is an actual term for this event. It’s called vasodilation and it has various effects on our bodies.

Photo by Jeff W via Unsplash

What is vasodilation?

The word “vasodilation” is used to describe the opening of the blood vessels in the body. It is the opposite of “vasoconstriction,” which is when the blood vessels in the body close.

Vasodilation is a temporary situation that occurs when cannabis is absorbed into the body. However, it doesn’t necessarily only occur when cannabis is consumed.

Medical professionals define vasodilation as the body’s natural response to an increase in body temperature or a decrease in oxygen levels.

When cannabis is consumed, blood flow to some parts of the body is restricted or decreased. The transport of oxygen is also slowed down and not quickly delivered to the body organs that need it most.

The easiest way to tell is by the obvious redness of the eyes as well as the user’s puffy / bloated face. Unfortunately, many are unaware of this physiological mechanism, which is why they attribute it to smoke irritation.

Some doctors prescribe cannabis-based drugs for patients with glaucoma, high blood pressure, etc. This is because of the vasodilatory response that these drugs would trigger to lower blood pressure.

Will marijuana legalization make weed uses more problematic?Photo by Mayara Klingner / EyeEm / Getty Images

Vasodilation and cannabis

While researchers have been able to find useful medical uses for cannabis in the human body, they still have not discovered the full extent of the effects of cannabis use on other organs in the body. And the associated risks are usually underestimated. The vasodilatory effects of cannabis is one of the most studied physiological responses of the body.

What Makes Cannabis a Vasodilator?

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive element in cannabis. It is the agent that causes a noticeable increase in heart rate and decreased blood pressure.

Another vasodilating effect is dizziness. This is because THC reacts with cannabinoid receptors that are present in the body, particularly the eyes, to induce these effects.

RELATED: This Happens When You’re Allergic to Marijuana

While THC isn’t the only cannabinoid responsible for all of these reactions, it is responsible for the majority of these reactions. The amount of THC present in the ingested strain of cannabis determines the amount of vasodilation in the user’s body.

For example, consuming a cannabis strain with less than 15% THC may result in little or no noticeable reddening of the eyes compared to consuming over 30% THC cannabis strain. It also depends on the tolerance of the user, as each person’s body anatomy is unique.

What causes redness of the eyes?

The main reason your eyes turn red – or bloodshot and puffy – when you use marijuana is because of the vasodilation caused by THC and other cannabinoids found in cannabis. If your eyes are red and puffy, it suggests that there is increased blood flow to your eyeball due to the widening of the blood vessels and capillaries around the eye area.

After the medication wears off, the capillaries and blood vessels gradually begin to close and narrow. Until everything is back to normal.

Can vasodilation be stopped?

Vasodilation is an unconscious reaction and therefore cannot be prevented. It also cannot be stopped once it has started. It doesn’t stop until the final effects of cannabis on the body wear off. You have no control over how vasodilation or vasoconstriction works.

However, you can do your best to mask / cover up the effects of cannabis use by hiding your bloated face and puffy eyes.

Masking vasodilation

As I mentioned above, vasodilation cannot be stopped, but a few techniques can effectively mask the signs. Here are some ways you can effectively hide your puffy red eyes.

RELATED: Here’s 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 will also help calm the eyes. Artificial tears can also help, although they’re not as effective as allergic eye drops, which isn’t surprising.

Both drops contain tetryzoline, which acts as a constricting agent for the blood vessels. And both drops are easy to get over the counter at the nearest pharmacy.

Why Does Smoking Weed Make Your Eyes Red?Photo by Elizabeth Fernandez / Getty Images

Use sunglasses: This is a perfect way to hide marijuana use, especially if you’re not staring at your bloodshot eyes in a public gathering with people.

For example, you can use it for a lecture in college. It’s easy, cheaper, and quick, just pick your glasses, put them on, and bask in your high. The only downside to this is that you can’t wear sunglasses at night so as not to damage your eyesight.

Omit caffeinated drink: Coffee is also like cannabis, both are vasodilators. Drink enough. Take a very cold bath if you can or put ice packs over your eyes.

Wait calmly for the symptoms to subside: The redness is even reduced and everything goes back to normal. The duration can vary between 1 and 12 hours depending on your body’s tolerance, weight and metabolism. And the load and dose of cannabis ingested. Choose low-THC cannabis strains.

Bottom line

There you have it, why the whites of your eyes turn red after consuming cannabis. If you still have doubts, you can practice on yourself. However, you need to ingest cannabis without smoking it to remove any doubt that the reaction is due to smoke irritation.

You can ingest the marijuana by eating foods infused with THC. Then, pay attention to the redness of your eyes.

Have fun and enjoy your baked face …

Don’t forget that you can use any of the methods given above to mask the effects of vasodilation.

This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and was republished with permission.

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