Lemon and other citrus fruit have historically been used as an antidote to cannabis intoxication. The effect is likely due to a terpene called limonene, one of the most common terpenes found in nature. It’s the major constituent of several citrus oils (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit). Limonene is also found in some cannabis strains that has a lemon-like aroma, but not all of them. A distinct terpene called terpinolene can also convey a citrus aroma without the same effects as limonene.
Limonene is considered a safe flavoring agent for food and a safe medicine. It is rapidly absorbed and has numerous medicinal properties, including relief of heartburn, depression, and anxiety, and has been shown to have anticancer properties. It is likely that the anti-anxiety effects of limonene are responsible for helping calm the uncomfortable aspects of cannabis intoxication.
Will both the rind and the juice negate the effects of cannabis?
Citrus juice contains very little limonene – it is mostly found in the oil of the citrus rind. This is why I recommend lemon zest, the grated outer rind of the lemon, for those wanting a cannabis antidote.
What else can be used for a cannabis overdose or intoxication?
In the case of accidental overdose on cannabis, which is usually related to consumption of high potency cannabis edible products, reassurance is a key intervention – even incredibly high doses of cannabis fail to produce brain damage, organ damage, or other types of physical toxicity, though they can cause delirium and hallucinations, which can be quite uncomfortable. Just remember these effects will pass, usually within 4-24 hours.
When one finds themselves in this unfortunate situation, the best strategy is to get into a peaceful environment, and if available, you can use CBD as a partial antidote to the THC adverse effects; I recommend 50-100mg of CBD with very low levels of THC every 2-4 hours, or inhaled CBD-dominant cannabis 2 puffs every 10 minutes as needed/helpful.
Chamomile tea, CBD, and a calm, relaxed environment can all help a patient who is experiencing a cannabis overdose. Stay well hydrated and wait it out.
How can I prevent a cannabis overdose or negative side effects?
Ingestion is the most likely form of cannabis to cause an overdose. Use caution when eating cannabis products – start with a small amount, and wait 2 to 3 hours before taking more.
Those new to cannabis should avoid edibles and use cannabis in a more accurately dosed and less appetizing form of medicine, such as a tincture or oil.
Take CBD twenty minutes before you plan to use THC. This can help lower the psychoactivity or “high” and prevent other negative effects like anxiety or paranoia. CBD should be taken in a 1:4 THC:CBD ratio, eg. for 5mg of THC, take 20mg of CBD twenty minutes prior.