Medical marijuana is now legal in 38 states across the country, and millions of people rely on it for mental and physical health conditions. It offers several benefits to patients, such as pain relief, but it also poses several side effects. One side effect some patients have experienced when using medical weed is fainting.
Also known as “vasovagal syncope,” fainting can happen to a small percentage of people who try marijuana. It’s a rare experience, but it can be scary to go through regardless.
Fainting from medical cannabis is caused by a couple of factors, including:
Standing while smoking doesn’t affect how medical marijuana interacts with your mind and body, but it can make you more prone to fainting.
There are a few key signs that you may be about to experience a fainting episode. If you experience any of these, move to a comfortable place in case you pass out.
Signs you may be about to faint include:
If you’re at home with loved ones, they may notice you becoming pale or unresponsive before fainting.
For medical marijuana physicians, the goal is to ensure you’re receiving treatments that offer you the maximum benefit. Because of that, doctors weigh the potential side effects of medical marijuana for your condition and consider your medical history to predict how you may respond to medical marijuana.
In some cases, you and your doctor may decide to incorporate medical cannabis into your treatment plan because of its side effects. People with insomnia, for instance, have benefited from using medical cannabis in the evening, as it can cause drowsiness.
Other side effects of cannabis are less helpful and may simply be an annoyance. These can include red or bloodshot eyes, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, or paranoia.
In most cases, fainting doesn’t cause any long-term side effects. The most significant risk of fainting, whether it’s after giving blood, standing up too fast, or using medical cannabis, is harming yourself when collapsing, such as by hitting your head. If this happens, don’t hesitate to go to the hospital. Should you faint on multiple occasions, it could be a sign of a more serious heart-related condition.
For most patients, fainting isn’t a tolerable side effect, and physicians agree. Because doctors understand why medical marijuana can cause fainting, they’ve developed several techniques for preventing it, including:
If you’re having fainting spells when you use cannabis, consult with your physician before altering your treatment plan.
Unfortunately, there is little research done at the moment on whether or not cannabis can prevent other types of fainting, such as cardiac syncope or neurologic syncope. Some of the most common causes of fainting include heart problems, stress, dehydration, low blood sugar, and anemia.
While cannabis can help with certain causes of fainting, such as anxiety or stress, it may worsen these issues in others. If you have chronic fainting issues, talk to your doctor to determine the cause. If it is something that medical cannabis can help with, your doctor can help you form a treatment plan that includes marijuana.
Because physicians understand the cause of fainting from medical marijuana and how to prevent it, it’s often still beneficial for patients to continue their treatment. However, it’s crucial that you continue meeting with a licensed, knowledgeable, and compassionate medical marijuana doctor to discuss your symptoms and make any potential changes to your treatment.