Take a nice, bit hit off that joint, bong, or vaporizer. Now hold in your hit of marijuana smoke for… how long? What’s the right amount of time to hold the hit in so you preserve lung health and get the max high?
Many of us were surprised to hear the results of a 2012 University of California San Francisco (UCSF) study that discovered that marijuana smokers do far less damage to their lungs than cigarette smokers…and that marijuana may even help the lungs.
Cigarettes create respiratory and other problems that cause half a million deaths per year, just in the United States.
According to World Health Organization worldwide estimates, at least six million people die each year from smoking cigarettes.
The funny thing is, nobody has documented a case of someone dying from marijuana inhalation.
On the other hand, whenever you inhale something combusted and hot into your lungs, you can do damage.
When you burn plant material and take it into your lungs, you’re taking in some pretty bad stuff, whether it’s a marijuana cigarette or a Marlboro.
Of course, the anti-marijuana folks are still pushing the line that marijuana is terrible for your lungs.
The British Lung Foundation (BLF) (a pharmaceutical industry front group posing as a public health advocate) recently sent out dire warnings claiming that one joint could do as much damage to you as 20 cigarettes, and that marijuana causes lung cancer.
When critics asked BLF to explain the National Institute of Health study showing there was absolutely no connection between marijuana smoking and lung cancer, and asking BLF’s leaders for scientific evidence to back up its anti-marijuana claims, the BLF declined comment.
Marijuana Helps the Lungs & Does Far Less Damage Than Cigarettes
So how and why is marijuana less harmful to the lungs than cigarettes, and in some cases helpful to the lungs?
Start with the fact that marijuana contains cannabinoids and other substances that expand bronchial pathways and actually increase lung capacity.
Further, marijuana contains substances that may be anti-carcinogenic, at least if preliminary studies are accurate.
Another reason marijuana smokers are treating their lungs better than cigarette smokers is because marijuana smokers smoke less plant material.
Even the most hardcore marijuana smoker is only consuming at most a few grams of marijuana per day, and by the way, if you’re consuming more than a few grams per day of strong chronic, take a look at a couple of articles that might encourage you to cut back on the amount you’re smoking so you protect your lungs and enjoy your THC more.
Hardcore cigarette addicts are smoking between about a gram of material per cigarette, but it isn’t all tobacco.
It’s paper, glue, and hundreds of manmade chemicals added to the cigarette by the corporate manufacturer.
Many of those materials are straight-up poisonous, and are designed to make cigarettes more addictive.
When somebody’s smoking a pack of cigarettes or more per day, they’re turning their lungs into black, dead things.
So now you see how marijuana smokers are hurting their lungs less, or actually helping their lungs, compared to cigarette smokers.
Properly-grown and cured marijuana is a natural healing herb, cigarettes contain addictive poisons, and marijuana smokers don’t consume as much burned raw plant material in a week as cigarette smokers consume in a day.
Now back to the question of how long should you hold in your marijuana hit?
Many smokers believe that the longer they hold it in, the more THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenoids they absorb, and that’s true up to a point.
Some of us have been told that if we do marijuana inhalation and we can’t help but cough, that this indicates super-potent marijuana.
You notice that different kinds of marijuana affect your lungs differently.
And I don’t just mean different strains, I mean whether or not the marijuana is grown, flushed, dried and cured properly.
If you flush your crops using Flawless Finish to remove stored fertilizer salts and other contaminants, if your marijuana growing environment is free of particulates, molds and fungi, if you dry, cure and store your marijuana properly, your bud is sweet and kind and easy to hold in.
If you grow or flush with inferior hydroponics products, or if your buds are contaminated or improperly processed after harvest, you might take in a hit and it blasts its way out of your lungs in a second or two, ripping your respiratory tract as it exits.
The latest research on THC absorption via the lungs says holding in your marijuana hit from seven to eleven seconds gives your lungs the optimal amount of time to absorb as much THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenoids as possible, without coating your lungs with particulates or depriving yourself of oxygen.
If you’re smoking with a water-filtered device, know that some THC is being trapped in the water, and make sure you keep your water-filtered marijuana smoking device clean, especially by changing the water after each bowl you smoke.
If you think you’re getting higher and higher by holding that marijuana inhalation in as long as possible, think again.
What you’re really doing is creating an oxygen-deprivation effect, combined with building up C02 in your body.
Not a healthy thing to do.
Using Herbs to Help Your Lungs
To be honest, almost every chronic marijuana smoker I know is hacking and coughing pretty often.
The UCSF study points out the obvious: if you smoke too much or too often, you will damage your lungs.
I’ve learned to use an ancient but highly-effective medical system from India, called Ayurveda, to keep my lungs clean and healthy.
There are Ayurvedic herbs known to cleanse the lungs, and you can actually add a couple of them into your bowl to smoke along with your marijuana. These are calamus, and gotu kola.
You can also get a prepared Ayurvedic formula in pill form that contains the right combination of Indian herbs for lung cleansing and rejuvenation.
Ayurveda also recommends a nasally-applied herbal oil called a nasya. You use an eye dropper to put this oil-herb blend into your nostrils and then inhale it up into your sinuses.
A side benefit of using Ayurvedic herbs is that they create extra energy, boost the immune system, and stimulate the mind.
Anti-marijuana people love to criticize marijuana inhalation by claiming no medicine should be smoked.
But the smoking of plant materials for medical purposes has a history of success going back thousands of years.
And as modern science proves that marijuana inhalation in moderate amounts actually improves lung function, and is certainly less harmful than smoking cigarettes, we’re reminded that cannabis is a healer.
You help yourself by not holding your hits too long, using bubblehash, dabs, or vaporizers, avoiding cigarettes, and respecting your lungs enough not to damage them.