Cannabis Effects: What Is A Head High?

If you’ve bought weed in the last decade, you’ve almost definitely heard the effects of some marijuana strains described as a “head high,” but what does that mean exactly? 

Usually, when someone refers to a head high, it’s in contrast to a body high—for example, a budtender telling a customer that a particular strain gives more of a head high than a body high. You’ll often see this contrast used to describe the differences between indicas and sativas. 

But that’s sort of vague, isn’t it? What exactly is head high, and is it true that sativas are more likely to produce one? Keep reading to learn more.

What Does Being High Mean?

What does it mean to be high?

Being high refers to the intoxicating cannabis effects felt when consuming THC. Precisely how THC will affect a person depends on several different factors. 

Firstly, the strain of cannabis itself will significantly impact the psychedelic experience of THC users. Cannabis is a smorgasbord of psychoactive compounds. Dozens of different terpenes and cannabinoids can be present in cannabis, and different combinations of these compounds will interact with your brain and nervous system differently.

Not only does the strain of cannabis you consume influence the drug’s effects, but so does how you consume it. Edibles hit different because when your body digests THC, it converts it to a totally different compound called 11-hydroxy-THC. Smoking or vaping increases the bioavailability of cannabinoids, which essentially means inhalation methods will have more potent effects with smaller doses compared to other intake methods. 

To make things even more complicated, you yourself play a major role in how THC will affect you. Biological factors like gender and weight directly affect how cannabis will interact with your body. Additionally, mental and environmental factors like set and setting will play a role in your cannabis experience.

Why Does THC Make You High?

What is a head high?

Many of our key life-sustaining functions like appetite, reproduction, memory, and mood are partially governed by a cell-signaling system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your body sends messages through neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids which connect to endocannabinoid receptors to keep these functions balanced. 

When we consume THC it binds to the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system, creating the feeling of intoxication.  

What Is A Head High?

While there is a large spectrum of different experiences THC can induce, there are certain cannabis effects that are commonly experienced. These include:

  • Increased appetite 

  • Decreased motivation 

  • Euphoria 

  • Enhanced creativity

  • Perceptual shifts 

  • Paranoia/anxiety

  • Bodily sensations 

  • Drowsiness

When we talk about a head high, we’re talking about a cannabis experience in which the drug’s cerebral effects are more pronounced. For example, if a strain gives you a head high, you may find that your understanding of time changes, your brain is making novel connections in ways it doesn’t usually, and you have bouts of uncontrollable giggles. 

Generally, head highs are thought to be more energizing, while body highs are thought to be more sedating. 

Are Sativa Strains More Likely To Produce A Head High?

Will sativas produce a head high?

If you’ve ever been to a dispensary, then you know that cannabis strains are split into three categories—indicas, sativas, and hybrids. Conventional wisdom says that indicas produce more of a body high, while sativas give you a head high. 

However, this might not actually be the case. The main difference between indicas and sativas is primarily cosmetic. Sativa flower has longer stems and taller nugs, while indicas have a denser, more pinecone-like appearance. This has little to no bearing on a particular strain’s cannabinoid/terpene profile, and likely doesn’t impact the consumer’s experience. 

How To Have A Good Head High 

Not all cannabis head highs are pleasant events. Instead of feeling euphoric and invigorated, a heady marijuana experience may leave some users feeling paranoid or extremely self-conscious. 

Like all psychedelic compounds, THC can be unpredictable. However, you can do a few things to increase your chances of having a positive experience. 

Your physical location can play a big role in how you react to THC. Unfamiliar environments may increase your likelihood of feeling anxious. Likewise, if you’re around people who already stress you out or make you feel self-conscious while sober, adding THC into the mix may exacerbate those negative feelings. 

Remaining in a comfortable space, surrounded by people who make you feel loved or at home, makes you more likely to have a fun time while high. Often, THC simply amplifies feelings we’re already having. That’s why it’s important to go into THC experiences with positive intent. Combining a meditation practice with your cannabis can be a great way to achieve this.

Do you have a pre-smoke routine that keeps you feeling light and positive? Let us know on Twitter

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