Does Niacin Work to Pass a Drug Test?

Sophia Delphi May 14, 2022 - 8 min read
Fact Checked
Drugs and Medication

Being told you have to take a drug test can create an immediate feeling of panic.

Even if you’re able to give up weed for a few days, or a week, or several weeks – that’s probably not enough time before the test for all traces of cannabis to disappear from your system, especially if you’re a heavy smoker.

What comes next? If you’re like most people, you ask friends or search the internet for things you can do that might help you “fool” the drug test. And if you’re like many people, you’ll come across something called a niacin detox, which supposedly helps clear traces of weed use from your body in just a few days.

Does it work? Sometimes, if you believe anecdotal reports. Should you try it?

Not until you learn more about what niacin does, when it might work, and the unintended effects it might have.

Before Getting Into The Details

We have to start with a couple of disclaimers.

First, we’re not suggesting that people should try to fool a drug test. This information is simply that, the information presented for educational and entertainment purposes. It’s not a recommendation.

Second, niacin use can produce serious side effects, which we’ll discuss shortly. Don’t take niacin without considering the possible pros and cons.

Would Niacin Even Help?

There’s one important question to answer before going any further: what type of drug test will you be taking? There are four possibilities.

Urine tests are the most common, of course. Hair tests are much more accurate but aren’t often administered by employers or government agencies. Blood tests and saliva tests are also less commonly used.

Here’s why that matters. When you use marijuana, THC is only stored in the body for a few days. But when THC is broken down in the liver, the process creates a metabolite known as THC-COOH which can stay in the body for weeks or even longer, primarily stored in fat cells.

Blood and saliva tests check for the presence of THC. If you won’t be tested for a few days, the THC will be gone, and detoxing isn’t even necessary. If the test will be tomorrow, you may want to try a detox – but niacin won’t clear traces of THC from your body. That’s not how it works. You’ll have to use something else.

Urine and hair tests are a different story. They don’t look for THC, they look for THC-COOH. And the reason some people use niacin to try to beat drug testing is that it can theoretically speed up the purging of the body’s fat that contains THC-COOH.

Once THC-COOH is in hair, you can’t get rid of it until your hair grows out. That means niacin might only help if you’re going to be taking a urine test.

Does that describe you? OK, let’s continue.

What Is Niacin?

Niacin is simply another name for Vitamin B3, sometimes called nicotinic acid.

Most people who take it in supplement form are suffering from pellagra, a niacin deficiency that’s usually due to a poor diet. It can also be caused a number of issues including eating disorders and alcoholism, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and some types of tumors. Pellagra can also be a side effect of immunosuppressive drugs. The vitamin is occasionally prescribed to treat high cholesterol as well.

Niacin is available in over-the-counter supplement pills. Those supplements usually provide 500 milligrams of niacin apiece; since the government’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) is just 14-16mg, taking these pills obviously puts much higher amounts of niacin into the system. That can cause problems for many people, and it’s why deciding to try a niacin detox is a big deal.

Why Would Niacin Flush Weed From The System?

Warning: niacin has no chance of working for those taking a drug test – if they continue to smoke weed while trying to detox. It’s crucial to stop all cannabis use immediately if a test is coming up.

Remember that we said the THC metabolite, THC-COOH, mostly builds up in the body’s fat tissue? That’s the key factor behind the concept of niacin detox.

Studies show that niacin boosts the body’s levels of a hormone called adiponectin, and adiponectin is very effective at breaking down fat.

Normally, fat burning takes weeks, which is why the THC-COOH stored in fat may still show up in urine weeks after you’ve smoked. But if you can speed up the process of burning fat, you’d theoretically be able to purge the THC-COOH it contains a lot faster. That’s why people try to beat a drug test by taking lots of niacin: the vitamin will supposedly eliminate traces of weed use from the body in time to test negative.

To be generous, a niacin detox doesn’t always work. It’s dependent on how much and how often a person has smoked, and how their body reacts to the niacin. THC-COOH is also stored elsewhere in the body in smaller amounts, not just in fat, so fat-burning doesn’t completely solve the problem.

And taking large amounts of niacin can cause other, serious issues. Let’s look at those before considering how long you have to take niacin to flush weed.

Potential Side Effects Of Niacin

There are small, tolerable side effects associated with niacin: flushing is most common, an upset stomach and diarrhea are also quite possible, as are swelling and other possibly painful skin reactions.

More serious issues are seen when people take more than 100 milligrams of niacin per day, and as we’ve mentioned, the typical supplement contains 500mg. Those possible side effects include liver damage, ulcers, and a worsening of existing heart and kidney disease. Niacin also causes problematic interactions with alcohol and some medications that treat blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. It’s a particular issue for those who take some blood thinners and antibiotics.

Will taking high amounts of niacin for a short time kill you? It’s not likely. But those side effects are definitely worth considering and may be enough to convince you to find a different detox method. We’d suggest talking to your doctor first, but that’s probably not realistic. Just be smart.

So How Long Do You Have To Take Niacin?

Still, determined to try it? Here’s how, and remember, this is just informational and educational, not medical advice.

Users take niacin for 3-5 days, depending on how much cannabis they’ve used over the past month. The usual routine is to take one 500mg supplement in the morning each day, and then another one every six hours – no more than four pills per day.

On the day of the test, those using niacin detox make sure to take at least two pills, separated by six hours and accompanied by as much water as possible, before giving the urine.

There are several other important guidelines that users of this method follow:

  • Drink lots of water – then drink even more water. Every day. As much as possible. Shoot for at least two gallons per day. Water containing electrolytes is even better.
  • Don’t eat fatty food. The detox tries to eliminate the fat that’s already in the body; adding more fat for the niacin to work on won’t help. Also, stay away from alcohol and other drugs, and as we’ve mentioned, no weed.
  • Take a Vitamin B-12 supplement daily, and a small amount of creatine powder before the test, to make urine appear “normal.”
  • Don’t use so-called “flush-free” niacin pills, which supposedly prevent the flushing side effect. They’re designed to work more slowly, so they’ll work more slowly to burn fat.

Will this detox method cause serious problems or damage? It might. Will it work? It might.

Good luck with the test.

How Long Do You Have To Take Niacin To Flush Weed? FAQ

Q: What are the chances that a niacin detox will work?
A: Your guess is as good as ours. There are claims online that as many as 80% of those who’ve tried it have passed their drug test, but most of those claims come from people trying to sell niacin pills or get clicks. There’s no documented proof of success.

Q: Should I really be concerned about the side effects?
A: Yes, particularly if you’re not in perfect health. If this helps, one published study reported on 12 cases of niacin overdoses caused by an attempted detox; most had taken more than four 500mg pills per day, all suffered serious complications, and all eventually recovered.

Q: Are there better methods to flush weed from the body?
A: Nothing’s been proven to work. Popular methods like drinking cranberry juice or apple cider vinegar haven’t been documented effectively. Detox kits and drinks are hit-and-miss at best but have apparently worked for some people. Simply drinking lots of water might help, but some drug tests can detect diluted urine. We wish there was an easy answer – but sadly, there isn’t.