Three words strike fear into the hearts of most weed smokers: mandatory drug testing.
Even though medical marijuana has been legalized in the vast majority of American states, and recreational use is legal in more than one-third of them, many employers still test employees and prospective employees.
Some testing might make sense. For example, it’s probably not a good idea for airline pilots to be under the influence when they go to work.
First the good news: a recent survey showed that the number of employers testing for weed use is declining. But no matter how crazy it might seem, widespread testing is still the reality.
That can leave law-abiding people who happen to enjoy cannabis — or use it for medical reasons — trying to figure out how to get rid of THC in their bodies.
You Might Be Asking the Wrong Question
A foolproof way to “get rid of THC in a week” may not help you much if you’re facing a drug test. That’s because most weed tests don’t even look for THC.
We have to start our exploration by talking about drug tests because there are four different ways that employers (and the government) can test for cannabis use.
Blood Tests and Saliva Tests for Weed
These are two of the methods that can be used to look for recent marijuana use. They measure the concentration of THC in the blood or saliva, with a cutoff designed to guard against false positives. If only a very small amount of THC is in either fluid, you’ll probably test negative.
For many years, it’s been believed that THC only stays in the body for a day or so, perhaps 2-3 days at most for heavy smokers. However, recent research has changed that view.
A comprehensive study has shown that the psychoactive cannabinoid may remain in saliva for much longer than that: as many as 72 hours for occasional smokers, and as many as 30 days for those who are regular, heavy smokers. There’s no research — yet — showing that THC can remain in the blood for that long, but one study found that it was detectable in about one-quarter of users after a week.
That’s not as big a deal as it might sound, because very few employers use a blood or saliva tests to check for weed use. They’re both expensive and invasive, particularly blood tests. Cheaper instant saliva tests are on the way, but chances are very good that you won’t have your blood or saliva tested. It’s much more likely that you’ll have to take a urine test.
And urine tests don’t look for THC.
Urine Tests for Weed
It costs much less for an employer to have you pee in a cup and have the results analyzed. Taking a urine sample is also much less invasive than blood or saliva testing. That’s why almost all weed tests are urine tests.
Here’s the other important fact about testing: urine tests don’t look for the presence of THC. They search for signs of a weed byproduct called THC-COOH.
Most of the THC in cannabis doesn’t remain in the body very long. Most of it is metabolized in the liver and turned into other substances. One of them is the metabolite THC-COOH, which is stored in fat cells — and stays there for quite a while. It’s only purged from the body when that fat is burned, which can take quite a while.
How long does it take? About 1-3 days for occasional smokers (more if they’ve used a strain with high-THC content), 1-2 weeks for moderate users, 3-4 weeks for frequent users, and even longer for heavy smokers.
So for most people, getting rid of THC in a week isn’t even the issue. It’s purging THC-COOH or hiding its presence from the test.
How do you do that? We’ll look at both goals.
Can You Get Rid of THC and THC-COOH in a Week?
We should first mention that the time frames we’ve mentioned aren’t hard and fast.
The exact amount of time that THC and THC-COOH will stay in your body depends on a number of factors, including your weight and amount of body fat, how fast (or slow) your metabolism works, genetics, and how much/how potent the weed is that you consume. Data show that women’s bodies eliminate THC more quickly, too.
Even so, if you’re a light or occasional smoker, chances are extremely good that there won’t be any THC left in your blood or saliva after a week. It’s also likely that moderate smokers will have purged measurable THC from their bodies within a week. Congrats to both groups.
Getting rid of THC-COOH is a bigger problem. There’s probably more than enough of the metabolite in your body to still show up a week after your last smoke sesh, unless you’ve only toked up once (or maybe twice). If you just took a few hits, you should have nothing to worry about.
For everyone who isn’t already breathing easier, let’s continue.
Best THC Detox Methods
There’s no guaranteed way to get rid of THC and its metabolites quickly and naturally. Some methods may help, though.
Since most people don’t know what type of test they’ll be taking until it’s too late, we’ll be listing suggestions for purging both THC and THC-COOH.
1. Hydratation Boost
Drink a lot of water in the days before your test because it helps to speed detox. Energy drinks will help, too.
2. Exercise & Sweating
Most effective detox methods rely on perspiration to help purge toxins from the system. It may help with THC and its metabolites as well. Exercise is great, but even sitting in a steam room or sauna will do the job.
3. ACV or Cranberry Detoxes
Several drinks are believed to provide some help. Apple cider vinegar may speed up the metabolism to speed up the purging process; cranberry juice is said to remove most toxins from the body in a week; coffee and tea make you pee more, and most THC-COOH is purged through urine. They also contain antioxidants which might help as well.
4. Fibrous Foods
Leafy greens with lots of fiber will help speed digestion and feces production, and most THC is purged through stool. Fruits and veggies are good too, because their micronutrients help with detox. Some to consider garlic, lemon, and broccoli sprouts.
Some nutritional supplements also put more micronutrients into the system or aid in detox. They include activated charcoal, vitamin C, magnesium, and psyllium husk.
6. Detox Kits
We don’t endorse the use of so-called weed detox kits (which supposedly cleanse the system over days) or detox drinks (which supposedly keep you clean for a couple of hours). That’s because it’s difficult to know what’s in them and whether they’d do any good.
Detox drinks allegedly mask traces of THC-COOH long enough for you to give a urine sample; some users claim they work, but many more have been disappointed.
Detox kits are used over a period of 3-7 days to help with a more complete detox, with the help of vitamins, minerals, and herbs like dandelion, stinging nettle, and bentonite clay. They seem to have a better success rate but aren’t foolproof answers.
Methods to Avoid
Some people use niacin for the few days before a test because it helps with fat burning (remember, THC-COOH is stored in body fat), but taking more than two milligrams could be dangerous, particularly to diabetics. Even smaller amounts could hurt some peoples’ health
An urban myth claims you can beat a drug test by drinking bleach. There’s a better chance that you’ll burn your esophagus or even kill yourself.
In worst-case scenarios, some people buy fake urine online before they have to pass a drug test. Not only doesn’t this approach always work — the product itself is illegal and there could be criminal penalties for using it.
How to Get Rid of THC in a Week? FAQ
Q: You didn’t mention hair tests for weed.
A: That’s for two reasons. One is that they’re very rarely used. The other is that they can show weed use going back as many as 90 days because hair grows so slowly. There’s no way to get rid of any traces of weed use from the hair in just a week.
Q: Has science verified any of the detox methods you listed?
A: Nope. In fact, many of them, like apple cider vinegar and cranberry juice, have supposedly been “debunked.” There are still many weed users who claim they’ve had success with them, however, and since they’re not dangerous to try, it made sense to include them.
Q: Which of the methods you’ve mentioned is the best way to get rid of all traces of THC?
A: Sadly, there’s no “magic bullet.” The only surefire way to detox is to abstain from weed for a month before your test. The best bet is to try as many of the suggestions as you can, of course, except for the dangerous ones.
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