Cannabis Brain Hacks: What Happens When You Mix Cannabis and Caffeine?
From soothing our coffee jitters to canceling each other out, here’s what research reveals about consuming caffeine and cannabis together.
For many of us, the morning doesn’t really begin until we’ve had a hot cup of coffee or tea. That’s because the core ingredient in our daily morning elixir of choice is also the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world: caffeine.
Sure, caffeine may seem benign (just try counting the number of Starbucks you encounter while heading into the mountains for a hike, or tallying how many restaurants around you offer caffeinated sodas) but society’s acceptance and approval of daily caffeine use doesn’t change the fact that it is, by definition, a mind-altering substance.
Given this distinction, it’s fair to wonder about the results that come from mixing caffeine with cannabis. Be it in the form of a wake-and-bake session chased by a cappuccino, or perhaps a late-afternoon pairing of an energy drink and a blunt, scientific research suggests some rather fascinating things can happen when the human body gets a dose of cannabis and caffeine in tandem.
A Potential Key to a Longer Cannabis Buzz
For starters, did you know that ingesting low levels of caffeine has the potential to prolong your cannabis high?
To reach this conclusion, a study published in 2011 utilized a subject pool of monkeys that were first given a small dose of anandamide (a substance that affects the same neural receptors as caffeine) and then allowed to self-administer cannabis as they desired. In addition to providing an incredible visual image, this experiment found that the monkeys’ interest in cannabis correlated to the amount of anandamide they’d be given. Less anandamide led to less cannabis, while more caffeine increased their desire for THC.
It’s possible to interpret the results of this study as an indication that a low level of caffeine can serve to complement or extend the effects of cannabis, while higher doses may potentially negate them.
Further evidence of this hypothesis was provided courtesy of a 2018 study that found that the level of neurotransmitters in a human’s endocannabinoid system decreased when subjects drank between four and eight cups of coffee per day. Given cannabis and the effects we experience from consuming it are directly linked to the endocannabinoid system, it’s fair to suggest that having too much caffeine has the potential of dampening or outright stifling the effects of cannabis.
Conversely, there is also research focused on the ways in which cannabis and caffeine may potentially complement one another when taken together. For example, there’s a 2017 study that found that both substances increase production of dopamine in our brains. Dopamine is a hormone we often associate with a feeling of euphoria, and while caffeine or cannabis in isolation are each capable of giving us a euphoric boost, the two combined have the potential to magnify the effect.
Toning Down Caffeine Jitters
There are also the ways in which cannabis has the potential to reduce what we commonly refer to as caffeine jitters. Often the result of gulping down a large cold brew or otherwise ingesting a large quantity of caffeine in a short period of time, most of us have experienced the unpleasant sensation of being overcaffeinated at one time or another.
Well, according to a 2020 study that involved giving mice both caffeine and cocaine (for real), locomotor sensitivity in the rodents was reduced following administration of a dose of cannabidiol (CBD).
While it would be somewhat of a leap to substitute CBD for full-spectrum cannabis in postulating that pot has the potential to alleviate symptoms of overcaffeination, it does make more than a little sense that cannabis could serve as a calming counterbalance to an overstimulated nervous system. If you’re looking to mellow out, Veritas has plenty of strain offerings in our relaxing Alleviate category that fit the bill.
Ultimately, there is still much research to be done when it comes to how cannabis and caffeine interact in the human body. Until then, a cautious, less-is-more approach is worth exploring when it comes to mixing two of our species’ favorite psychoactive substances together.