What Are ‘Weed Shakes’ and What Causes Them?

woman wearing glasses and cardigan sweater wrapping her arms around her body

Table of contents

  1. What Are Weed Shakes?
  2. Causes
  3. How Long It Lasts
  4. Remedies for Weed Shakes
  5. The Bottom Line
  6. Frequently Asked Questions

When you consume large amounts of cannabis, you may start trembling or shaking as though you’re cold. These are informally called “weed shakes” or simply “the shakes.” Like freezing temperatures, anxiety can lead to uncontrollable shaking or trembling. THC-rich cannabis can cause anxiety or paranoia when consumed in higher doses, which in some may produce a jittery or shaky feeling.

Never fear, however, as cannabis shakes are likely nothing to worry about. Read on to learn more about the “weed shakes” and what to do if they occur.

Download Free Guide to THC

What Are Weed Shakes?

Weed shakes are involuntary muscle spasms and tremors that sometimes occur when one consumes large amounts of cannabis. While shakes associated with alcohol withdrawal or other serious health concerns can be scary, cannabis shakes are decidedly less dangerous. These tremors simply mean your nervous system is somewhat overwhelmed with anxiety induced by too much THC.

Cannabis has a high safety profile, and while no formal research exists on weed shakes, a host of anecdotal information tells us they’re relatively common and typically harmless. Like other adverse side effects of consuming too much cannabis, such as nausea and increased heart rate, the shakes usually subside quickly.

Causes

Many factors at play could contribute to the onset of weed-related muscle spasms.

Cold environment

Cannabis lowers body temperature via an effect known as “THC-induced hypothermia,” and makes you feel colder in already-cold environments. However, these chills represent only a slight drop in baseline body temperature, and it’s nothing a blanket or hot shower can’t remedy. Your body might simply be shivering because you’re cold.

Over-stimulation

Stimulants like nicotine, or caffeine from soda or coffee, excite the nervous system and boost the amount of dopamine in the bloodstream.

If you often consume stimulants and get the shakes, it’s likely the stimulant contributing to your tremors.

Anxiety

Plentiful research has documented the anxiety and paranoia sometimes caused by consuming too much THC-rich cannabis, which can overstimulate the amygdala and increase your level of fear and anxiety. Some are more susceptible to these reactions than others, and nervousness could be the actual cause of your shakes. If this happens, simply do things that’ll help you remain calm – the tremors will pass.

Download Guide To Anxiety and Medical Cannabis

Too much THC

Overconsumption of cannabis is often the main culprit behind weed shakes. While the word “overdose” might sound scary, there are plenty of ways to calm down from a too-strong high.

How Long It Lasts

Thankfully, shakes and tremors associated with cannabis don’t last long, though the duration of the phenomenon can depend on the amount taken and how it was consumed. If you smoked flower or vaped, anecdotal reports suggest that the shakes should subside in about 20 minutes. However, edibles’ highs last a lot longer, and the tremors may continue for up to an hour.

If you experience more alarming symptoms or have underlying health conditions, check with your doctor to learn more about how cannabis interacts with your body. A few adjustments to your dose, cultivar type (often called “strain”) or a little CBD could help soothe the overwhelming effects of too much THC.

Remedies for Weed Shakes

Get Up and Move Around

Stand up, move around or distract yourself with a simple task. If you feel overwhelmed by weed shakes, a literal change of pace may be enough to fend them off. Take slow deep breaths, or try other calming methods such as meditation or yoga.

Moving around and refocusing your energy will help ground yourself in your body and stretch your tense muscles.

Adjust Your Environment

Setting is a crucial element of any cannabis experience, so if your current environment is contributing to your weed-induced anxiety, change things.

Move to a different room, turn on calm, soothing music or turn down the lights. If you’re with others, even moving away from a social situation might help to calm your nerves and stop the shakes.

Avoid Stimulants

Avoid combining stimulants (e.g. caffeine, tobacco) with your cannabis, as avoiding stimulants will help keep your nervous system calm and prevent tremors.

Switch strains

The amount of THC in a particular cultivar could be responsible for your anxiety, and in turn the “weed shakes” associated with it. If that’s the case, switching to another variety with less THC or more CBD and terpenes like pinene and linalool – which temper the effects of THC to some extent – may work better with your nervous system.

There are hundreds of cannabis cultivars on the market, many with a terpene and cannabinoid profile better suited towards relaxation and less likely to induce twitching. Ask your budtender for recommendations if you don’t know where to start.

CBD

As mentioned above, CBD can help blunt the high experience of THC and prevent anxiety-induced shakes. Opting for a strain with higher levels of CBD and a more even ratio of CBD: THC will be less likely to cause anxiety-induced muscle tremors and produce a more enjoyable experience.

Download Free Guide to CBD

The Bottom Line

Weed shakes can be a scary experience, but they are a non-dangerous side effect of cannabis with plenty of remedies and preventative measures. Be aware of your body and its interaction with cannabis, and you can easily avoid experiencing weed shakes while accessing the medicine you need.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when you start shaking after smoking weed?

Weed shakes are involuntary muscle spasms and tremors that sometimes occur when one consumes large doses of cannabis. Thankfully, weed shakes don’t last long, though the duration of the phenomenon can depend on the amount of cannabis taken and how it was consumed.

Is it dangerous if you shake after using marijuana?

Cannabis has a high safety profile, and while no formal research exists on weed shakes, a host of anecdotal information tells us they’re typically harmless. Like other symptoms of consuming too much cannabis, such as nausea and increased heart rate, the shakes usually subside quickly.

The shaking is most often associated with anxiety rather than the cannabis itself, as medical cannabis may help reduce spasms and tremors associated with conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS).

Get Your Medical Marijuana Card

Connect with a licensed physician online in minutes.

Select State
Keep Reading