Even as cannabis laws increase and expand in most US states, there’s the ongoing risk that your weed habit could cost you your job – or a chance at getting a new job. Basically, if you’ve used marijuana in recent weeks, there’s a chance that the THC could show up on a drug test, landing you in serious trouble.
Marijuana and its active ingredients are interesting compounds in how the human body metabolizes them; unlike other herbal supplements that are digested and excreted within days, cannabis metabolites are stored in fat, which means they’re difficult to be metabolized.
Fortunately, there are ways to safely and effectively detox your body and ensure that your test comes back clear. This article discusses the safest and best ways to detox from THC, and also outlines various factors that determine how long it takes for traces of marijuana to leave your system.
What Exactly Is a Detox for Weed?
The term ‘detoxification,’ better known as detox, involves abstaining from or eliminating a given substance to ensure no traces remain in the body. When it comes to marijuana use, you have to steer clear of it until your body has successfully flushed it out of your system. If you’re a heavy user, it will take a lot longer to detox your body and could result in withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, depression, and irritability.
If you’re scheduled to have a drug test at work, you may need a little ‘help’ to remove the THC, and this necessity has spawned a multi-million-dollar market. There are hundreds of detox products on the market. While most don’t explicitly state that the product is for THC detox, that’s what many people use it for.
How Long Does Weed Stay in the System?
According to Ryan Vandrey of Johns Hopkins University, there is no typical detection window for drug testing and cannabis. There are numerous variables, including:
- Rate of use
- Frequency of exercise
Here are some standard periods to help give you a ballpark figure:
- Blood: 1-7 days.
- Saliva: 1-7 days.
- Hair: Up to 90 days.
- Urine: Anywhere from three days for light users to 77 days for heavy users. The ‘average’ is between 10 and 30 days.
As you can see, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure, so if you have an impending drug test, a THC detox might be the only way to pass.
A few studies have attempted to determine how long cannabis typically stays in the system over the last few decades. In 2005, for example, a review by Paul Cary of the University of Missouri discovered that it is rare for THC to be found in the system for more than 30 days after it was last consumed.
Moreover, a study by Johansson and Halldin, published in 1989, analyzed the detection time in chronic users. The duo discovered that the ‘maximum’ detection window was 25 days and only at 20 ng/mL sensitivity. Also, just one of the subjects tested positive after 14 days, and it took just 9.8 days on average for the THC levels to no longer be detectable.
And lastly, a 1984 study by Swatek tested chronic users at the 50 ng/mL cutoff point and found that the longest time it took to get clean was 40 days. However, 80% of the subjects passed the test within 13 days. Reducing your THC levels to a point where you pass a urinalysis is individualized but probably doesn’t take as long as you think.
Reasons to Detox from THC (Even if You Don’t Have an Upcoming Drug Test)
For some users, when they smoke marijuana for a long time, its effects begin to dissipate. This means you have entered the dreaded marijuana tolerance zone and implies that you need more cannabis to achieve the same effects as before. A tolerance break could potentially rejuvenate cannabis’s effects, while also allowing users to consider their usage intention.
Once you begin your tolerance break, continue abstaining from cannabis until the THC has completely left your system. As you’re in no hurry, you don’t need any special THC detox products unless you’re eager to get back to smoking!
What Happens in a Drug Test for THC?
In the United States, tens of millions of drug tests are carried out annually, with urine testing the most common method. When you use cannabis, your THC levels temporarily rise. While these THC levels will fall rapidly over the next few days (as long as you don’t smoke again), regular users will probably have enough left in their system to be detected by urinalysis.
One of the downsides of cannabis (compared to other illegal drugs) is that traces of it take much longer to leave the body.
Marijuana compounds such as CBD and THC – as well as their metabolites – are lipid-soluble and accumulate in your body’s fat reserves. Over time, these molecules are released slowly, which means that THC and other cannabinoids will remain in your system for longer.
A urinalysis measures the level of the metabolite THC-COOH in your urine, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sets the standard for government employee drug tests.
Although the figure varies, the typical cutoff point in urinalysis for the presence of THC is 50 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). If your sample has a higher level than this, it is sent for a second test that uses more sensitive equipment. You have officially failed the drug test if the second urine sample shows a rate higher than 15 ng/mL.
Please note that a few factors could influence your drug test results and ultimately cause a false positive. For example, if you are dehydrated, it will concentrate your urine, and after exercise, fat cells are broken down, and THC is released. Therefore, it is entirely possible to fluctuate between negative and positive in a relatively short period.
For the record, approximately 4% of the American workforce has positive drug screenings each year. Retail is the industry with the highest rate of positive drug tests!
How to Cleanse Your Body & Hair
If you have a company drug test on the horizon and believe there isn’t enough time to get clean, you’ll need the aid of the best marijuana detox you can find. Even though chronic users could pass a test with just ten days of abstention, you probably won’t want to take that chance – nor will you have enough time.
Ryan Vandrey believes that chronic users, in particular, should ignore general recommendations. Therefore, you’ll probably be interested in one of the following products to determine if they offer the best detox for THC.
Detox pills tend to work by providing the body with a supplemental energy supply, which prevents your body from burning fat cells for up to 6 hours. As a result, no toxins are released into your urine or bloodstream. It is best to use THC detox pills around two hours before the scheduled test.
There are also detox pills designed to gradually clear your system over a week. Typically, these products contain many herbal extracts that work to detoxify your body and help you pass the test. Examples of herbs used in detox pills include:
- Dandelion Leaf: Helps clear THC from your system by forcing it to leave naturally when you urinate.
- Rhubarb Root: This allegedly targets and clears cannabis toxins while preventing inflammation in the bladder.
- Burdock Root: Acts as a blood purifier and cleanses your system.
- Goldenseal Root: Goldenseal detox products are hard to come by (as is the natural root itself) due to botanical sustainability. However, some people swear by it in terms of its ability to skew the results of a THC drug test in their favor.
It’s worth noting that detox pills designed to help you get free and clear at the last minute are little more than masking agents. All they do is ensure your urine provides an artificial reading. Meanwhile, seven-day cleanses tend to have higher success rates because they remove THC from your system.
Pass Your Test is a brand that offers detox programs depending on how much time you have available. Its 5-day Nutra Cleanse Program is for individuals who need toxin removal in a hurry. The company claims that over 250,000 have used this product. The 10-day option is a more comprehensive cleanse.
Both products come with capsules, a detox guide and meal plan, a cleansing coach to help you pass the test, and free home testing kits.
Detox Drinks for Drug Tests
Detox drinks typically involve drinking even more water than their pill counterparts. Although some dubious firms on the market don’t have reliable products, there is some science behind the claims of the more reputable companies. These drinks should contain vitamins and minerals, which can help restore your urine’s composition.
Most people believe that detox drinks work the same way as drinking gallons of water, but this isn’t true.
The best drinks flush the THC out of your system and keep your urine the same color. Most sellers recommend drinking liters of water before and after using their product. This instruction has led cynics to suggest that the water helps you pass the test, not the drink.
Ultimately, the low success rate of ‘quick fix’ detox drinks means we can only recommend considering products designed to remove toxins over 3 – 7 days. As the lab test isn’t looking for traces of detox drinks, there is little chance that your product usage is detected.
THC Detox Kit
A marijuana detox kit is similar to detox pills and drinks and may contain one or both. Once again, THC detox kits claim to remove all toxins from your system, including metabolites, in a short period. The duration of these programs ranges anywhere from 24 hours to a week, so choose the one that meets your needs accordingly.
A significant proportion of the best THC detox kits contain fruit pectin, a fiber normally used to add gelatinous qualities to jam and jelly. Fruit pectin is supposed to stop THC metabolites from passing into your urine, as it forces the cannabinoids out via your feces instead. Other common ingredients include red clover and yellow dock root, which act as diuretics and speed up your metabolism.
If you decide to use a marijuana detox kit, choose a safe product for your kidneys and liver. Other ‘kits’ are little more than detox drinks washed down with water, while the best marijuana detox kits are backed by scientific research.
Realistically, it is unlikely that your employer will subject you to a hair follicle test. Only 7% of organizations use it. This is just as well for regular marijuana users because this form of screening can detect drugs used in the last 90 days!
Once you use marijuana, the THC travels through the bloodstream. It combines with various chemicals and then settles in different deposits throughout the body. The blood that enables hair to grow is the same blood that transports medication through the body.
If your employer uses a hair follicle test, you can use a detox shampoo to help you pass. The best products penetrate deep into your hair follicles and remove toxins such as THC.
Toxin Rid’s shampoo could remove residual build-up, chemicals, environmental pollutants, and more from your hair. According to numerous positive customer reviews, it is expensive but worth the price.
Approximately 10% of employers use saliva tests. They are efficient and quick because testers can collect oral fluid on-site straight after the test. This form of drug screening detects THC in the mouth lining for a short period.
Fortunately for marijuana users, some mouthwashes can help pass a drug test by detoxifying the mouth. However, you will need to bring the mouthwash to work because it only keeps your mouth free from THC metabolites for around 30 minutes.
What Factors Impact How Long THC Remains in My System?
Concerning the length of time THC can stay in the body, here are a few things to consider before beginning a marijuana cleanse.
Consumption Rate & Frequency
Casual smokers will pass most tests if they abstain for several days beforehand. Frequent smokers, though, need a faster detox to get by.
- Do you smoke daily?
- If so, how much do you smoke during a session?
- How much THC is in the cannabis you smoke?
These are all vital questions because the THC metabolites’ half-life is seven days. This means the amount of THC in your body is halved every seven days.
If you smoke like Howard Marks, it will take some additional time for THC to leave the body naturally. Technically, it will take a week longer for you to get clean than someone who smokes only 50% of what you smoke.
Since THC and THC-COOH are stored in fat cells, the more body fat you have, the more THC is stored in your body.
Metabolism & Health
Individuals with healthy BMIs have lower body fat percentages than average, so they benefit from low THC storage. They also tend to have faster metabolisms, meaning they can break down THC faster than those individuals with high BMI.
There are several ways to embark on a cannabis detox:
- Medium-Term Detox Products: These products involve herbal supplements to give you the best body cleanse and eliminate THC within 3-7 days. Make sure you purchase a reliable home drug testing kit to ensure your urine is clean before taking the test.
- Short-Term Detox Products: These items often contain potentially harmful ingredients and mainly rely on you drinking a lot of water. They mask your urine and do little for your overall health, and are certainly not a substitute for a good THC cleanse.
- Synthetic Urine: Synthetic Urine is illegal, and more states are beginning to impose strict penalties on individuals caught using fake urine. You can purchase fake urine online, and these kits are designed to look, smell, and chemically behave as clean human urine. Quick Fix and Upass are among the most trustworthy brands in this niche. However, this is not a detox method!
- Soap & Bleach: In terms of how to detox THC, this is arguably the most unfounded, regularly attempted method of passing a drug test. It is untrue that soaps such as dishwasher detergent will help you return a negative sample. In reality, detergent can change your sample’s color, and there’s a pretty good chance that your urine becomes bubbly! Bleach also doesn’t work and is a serious health risk.
Natural Detox Options
There is nothing quite like passing a drug test naturally. Therefore, if you don’t like the idea of spending $40+ on a drink or pill that may or may not help, your best bet is to begin a natural detox cleanse as soon as possible. Doing it naturally takes longer, but in the end, it is the most reliable method. Here are a few ways to remove THC from your system naturally.
You have no hope of cleansing your system if you use marijuana during the process! Of course, it is up to you to decide if you want to quit cold turkey or gradually wean yourself off. However, bear in mind that the latter option means the cleansing process will take even longer.
Although abstention is effective, there is a small chance that individuals may test positive if exposed to secondhand smoke.
In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, a group of non-users was exposed to secondhand smoke from six cannabis smokers and ultimately tested positive for THC. For the study, all of the non-smokers were placed together in a specially constructed (albeit non-ventilated) chamber for 60 minutes while their friends smoked cannabis with 11.3% THC content.
One non-smoker tested positive for cannabis with a THC-COOH concentration exceeding 57 ng/mL, while several other non-users had concentrations over 20 ng/mL.
However, as you can see, it is extremely unlikely that exposure to secondhand smoke will cause you to fail a drug test. It takes a unique set of circumstances for passive marijuana smoke to jeopardize a THC detox or cause a failed drug screening.
This method works best if you have a full week before a drug test. Exercise is effective because it helps you burn through fat cells hanging on to THC. However, don’t exercise within 24 hours of the test because THC gets re-released into the bloodstream when you burn fat.
A 2013 study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, for example, discovered that exercise could increase your blood plasma THC concentrations by approximately 15%.
Sweat It out
This method may be more ‘myth’ than fact, as it’s widely known that only a small amount of THC leaves the body via sweat. However, there is also a possibility that using a sauna could help detoxify the body and aid in your quest to pass a drug test. A 2012 study published in Toxicology and Industrial Health found that police officers could detox by using a sauna after exposure to methamphetamines.
Ultimately, it is hard to know if the same principle applies to sauna and marijuana. Still, it is worth noting that the officers received nutrition therapy, including B vitamins. They also exercised extensively, so perhaps a combination of a detox drink, exercise, and sauna could work? Either way, bear in mind that you must drink a lot of water if you intend to use a sauna and exercise.
Water – Lots & Lots of It!
There are a host of detox drinks and homemade remedies on the market, and a lot of them contain acidic ingredients that can be harsh on the stomach. If you would rather keep things simple and avoid indigestion problems, stick to water. Even the manufacturers of detox drinks and pills recommend consuming large amounts of water with their products.
The downside of this method is that you have to drink more water than you ever believed was possible. Some people recommend drinking a gallon a day for up to a week before the test. However, hyper-hydration is unlikely to impact THC metabolite removal significantly.
Hyper-hydration can be life-threatening, so this is not necessarily a safe method for THC detox.
A smarter way is to use a combination of vitamin B2 and electrolyte powder. Drink the electrolyte solution at a rate of 4 milliliters per pound of your lean body mass (your bodyweight when fat is subtracted) per hour for three hours.
Then test your urine using a home drug test, and if your reading is below 50 ng/mL, repeat the test the following day and check again. If your reading is at a ‘fail’ level, you’ll need to gradually increase your consumption of the electrolyte solution until the test comes back clean.
As coffee is a diuretic, it increases your frequency of urination. As this is a method of eliminating toxins such as cannabinoids from the body, drinking coffee could help speed up the detoxification process.
The natural antioxidants in coffee also help your body detox. Therefore, consuming strong coffee, such as espresso, with electrolytes and water might prove useful. It is also good to add B-vitamins to the mix for further body cleansing power.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This product speeds up the metabolism, ensuring THC goes through your system rapidly. Apple cider vinegar also has antimicrobial properties that improve your body’s capacity to eliminate toxins.
However, it is a mistake to try and consume apple cider vinegar on its own! Apart from its unpleasant taste, its high acidity level may damage the lining of your mouth. Therefore, it is better to mix it with water before drinking it.
Cranberry juice remains a popular detoxification beverage. Unlike apple cider vinegar, it has a nice taste! Nonetheless, mixing it with water can help remove toxins from your intestines, lymphatic system, and kidneys in around seven days.
If you want to speed things up a little, add electrolytes and B-vitamins. Like coffee, cranberry juice is a natural diuretic, so you can expect to urinate more regularly.
These are not always effective, but they are an option if time is running out and you are desperate! In simple terms, combine as many ingredients with known detoxification properties and consume the concoction! One example is to mix:
- 500 ml of water
- Two tablespoons of lemon juice
- Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- One teaspoon of ground ginger
- 25 teaspoons of cinnamon
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- One teaspoon of honey to make the concoction palatable.
For best results, drink the mixture three times on the day of your drug test.
Best Detox Foods
When you eat healthier foods, you’re helping to remove THC from your system rather than merely masking it.
One tactic you could use is to eat a large amount of high-fiber leafy greens, beginning at least three days before your drug test. Natural fiber helps kick start your digestive tract, which means more fecal matter and THC excretion. Remember, up to 65% of THC is removed from your system via bowel movements!
Fruits and vegetables are also filled with micronutrients that can assist in the detox process. In the days before your drug test, increase your consumption of Magnesium, Activated Charcoal, Psyllium Husk, and B Vitamins with special emphasis on niacin.
Here is a quick list of a few detox foods to consider:
- Lemon: The acidic properties of this citrus fruit make it an excellent option for detox. All you need is about one tablespoon of lemon juice added to half a liter of water. For best results, drink up to eight glasses of this mixture during the final 24 hours before your drug test.
- Garlic: This is one of the best detox foods in the world, as it stimulates the production of detoxing enzymes in the liver and works to filter toxins from the digestive system.
- Broccoli Sprouts: This food is exceptionally high in antioxidants and also does an excellent job of stimulating detoxification enzymes at the cellular level. In this instance, the sprouts do a better job than the fully-grown broccoli vegetable.
- Grapefruit: Grapefruit contains phytochemicals that help burn fat cells and reduce your appetite, making it an ideal food when dieting — and detoxing.
- Mung Beans: This is another seldom-eaten healthy food that can help flush THC from your system, as the beans digest easily and absorb toxic residue from your body’s intestinal walls.
Before You Detox, Here Are the 4 Types of Drug Tests You Should Take
There are four main types of drug screening. If you’re concerned about failing any of them, consider taking a test before your employer makes you! There are many home testing kits available, along with the possibility of paying more money for a lab test. It is helpful to know which test your company is likely to use as this knowledge will help you prepare better.
For the record, Toxin Rid sells home testing kits. You can perform a urinalysis or a hair follicle test to see if you’re likely to pass.
A urinalysis is the most commonly used test, and an estimated 90% of companies use it. In a urine test, indicators such as creatinine, pH, color, and temperature are analyzed to ensure the pee is genuine.
This is another relatively easy test to take at home. One version of this test involves using a mouth swab, while another requires the subject to spit into a cup. Saliva tests mainly detect drug use within the previous 10 hours, although they can find THC traces going back a week.
Hair Follicle Test
This test can detect marijuana usage going back three months! You’ll need to get in touch with a lab if you want to take this type of test. It takes half an inch of hair to show your recent history of drug consumption, but it is ineffective when spotting marijuana usage within the previous few days.
This is not a drug test one can perform at home. It requires sophisticated equipment and is a long and detailed process. A blood test can detect THC metabolites for several weeks after your last use. However, it is extremely rare for any company to perform this form of drug screening.
THC Detox: Final Thoughts
Many organizations no longer test job candidates or employees for marijuana. Sadly, plenty of companies will still reject your application or terminate your contract if you test positive for THC, even though four times as many Americans are dependent on alcohol than on cannabis.
Therefore, if you’re applying for a job or your company engages in employee drug testing, you need to abstain until the test has concluded. If the test comes at short notice, you have to find a way to begin a THC detox quickly and safely, and this is where detox drinks, pills, and kits come into play.
Most THC detox products are little more than herbal supplements with extra B-vitamins. According to certain detox product sellers, their products will speed up the rate of THC elimination from the body. However, beware of such claims because they are usually false. The scientific community believes the notions of cleansing and detoxing are ridiculous, as they have no clinical basis.
If you decide to begin a THC detox, do so as far away from the drug test as possible.
The best way to detox is to increase your fiber intake with extra fruit and vegetables. Also, drink a reasonable amount of water without making yourself ill.
Finally, chronic marijuana users must realize that there is no magic method of passing a drug test! THC will remain in your system for weeks unless you abstain immediately and begin the detox process. Your frequency of use and the amount consumed, coupled with your metabolism, body fat percentage, and general health, will play a role in determining how long it takes to get clean.
Want to know how long THC can stay in your system? Try out our THC Drug Test Calculator.
If you are looking for a detox product, we’ve tested quite a few different products. Below are the results from products we tried out.
How Is THC Excreted from the Body?
The body metabolizes THC, and the cannabinoid is released into the bloodstream. It is ultimately removed by a combination of urine, fecal matter, sweat, lost hair follicles, saliva, and other things. Up to 65% of THC metabolites leave the body via your feces. Depending on the person, anywhere between 15% and 30% leaves via sweat or urine.
How Fast do Detox Pills Work?
There is a debate as to whether they work at all! In theory, they are supposed to begin the detoxification process within two hours. The effect could last for around six hours, and they tend to mask the THC metabolites rather than remove them entirely. However, not every brand sells high-quality products in this poorly regulated market.
How to Speed up Weed Detox?
You need to try a detox product and hope for the best if speed is of the essence! Whether you use detox pills or a drink, the process involves consuming large volumes of water. If you’re a regular user, it is highly unlikely that any method will fully detox your system within a couple of days. If you have a drug screening within that time frame, your best bet is to use a product to mask the THC metabolites, but this method is far from guaranteed to work as it is highly risky.
How Long Does It Take to Detox from THC?
It depends on a variety of factors. While the intoxicating high may last for a few hours, traces of marijuana via THC metabolites can remain in your system for days, weeks, or even months. For instance, it could take 10-11 weeks of abstention for a chronic marijuana user to provide a clean urine sample.
For infrequent users, 1-2 weeks of abstention may be enough. However, these timeframes depend on the usage rate, the strength of the marijuana consumed, the individual’s body mass and body fat levels, and other factors.
What Is the Best Detox for THC?
Abstention from marijuana is the most effective detoxing method, but individuals facing a drug test don’t have that kind of time. A combination of water and cranberry juice may help speed up the process. Sufficient hydration and exercise could help you feel better and assist in any withdrawal symptoms.
If time is against you, add a laxative to remove THC via your feces. However, there is no detox product on the market that guarantees a negative result on drug screening.