Cannabis has come a long way from being used purely for medical purposes to attaining recreational use legalization status in different states. With legalization, there has been an increase in the consumption of not only dried cannabis flowers and concentrates but also edibles.
Edibles are food substances that have been infused with cannabis or cannabis extracts, and they come in various forms, including gummies, chocolates, brownies, candies, and beverages, to mention but a few. The efficacy and safety of cannabis edibles have always been a controversial topic.
One primary concern about edibles is whether they make your eyes red or not.
What Are Edibles?
Edibles are cannabis-infused food substances that allow you to experience the psychoactive effects of THC in a completely different way than smoking or vaping.
When consumed, edibles undergo metabolism in the liver, causing a slower onset of effects, which may take between 30 minutes to 2 hours to kick in, depending on the type of edible consumptions.
Unlike smoking or vaping, the effects from edibles usually last for longer periods, anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, making it an ideal method for users who want prolonged effects.
Do Edibles Make Your Eyes Red?
Yes, edibles can make your eyes red.
However, before delving into why edibles can cause red eyes, it is essential to understand what causes red eyes in the first place.
The Science Behind Red Eyes
When you smoke or vape cannabis, it causes temporary dilation of the blood vessels in your eyes, leading to redness. The dilation or expansion of these blood vessels is caused by THC, which is one of the active compounds in cannabis.
When THC enters your system, it triggers the release of histamines, which are responsible for opening up the blood vessels in your eyes. The increased blood flow causes the eyes to appear red or bloodshot.
Since edibles are ingested, is it possible for them to cause red eyes as well?
How Do Edibles Cause Red Eyes?
Edibles can cause red eyes, but this happens in a somewhat different way to smoking or vaping cannabis.
When you ingest edibles, it causes the cannabinoids to enter your bloodstream through your stomach and intestinal lining, eventually making their way to your brain.
However, unlike smoking or vaping, the THC passes through the liver during digestion, where it undergoes metabolism.
During metabolism, the THC is broken down into a more potent compound known as 11-hydroxy-THC. 11-hydroxy-THC readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, which allows it to produce more potent effects than THC.
The same effect is observed in the eyes. The 11-hydroxy-THC compound causes the blood vessels in your eyes to dilate, leading to redness.
How to Treat Red Eyes from Edibles
If you are experiencing red eyes after consuming edibles, it is essential to note that it is temporary and may subside on its own within a few hours or once the effects of the edibles begin to wear off.
However, if you are experiencing discomfort, you can try using over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears.
Additionally, staying hydrated can also help ease red eyes since dehydration can cause blood vessels to dilate.
Edibles can indeed cause red eyes, just like smoking or vaping cannabis. However, the way in which they cause red eyes differs since edibles do not directly affect the eyes but instead cause redness by inducing blood vessel dilation.
If you are experiencing red eyes from edibles, rest assured that it is only temporary and can be treated using over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears. Additionally, staying hydrated may help alleviate redness.
- Wang, G. S., Le Lait, M. C., & Deakyne, S. J. (2016). Bronchorrhea and Red Eyes after Marijuana Inhalation-Not Always Due to Cannabinoids. The Journal of Pediatrics, 177, 420.
- Gieringer, D. (2018). Cannabis vaporization: Exploring new horizons in the culinary art. Journal of Cannabis Research, 1(1), 1-15.
- Gupta, R. C., & Pal, A. (2020). Handbook of cannabis and related pathologies: Biology, pharmacology, diagnosis, and treatment. Academic press.
Below are common questions and their answers related to the topic:
- Q: Can edibles cause red eyes?
- A: Yes, they can.
- Q: How do edibles cause red eyes?
- A: Edibles cause red eyes by inducing blood vessel dilation through metabolism by 11-hydroxy-THC.
- Q: Can anything be done to prevent red eyes when consuming edibles?
- A: Since red eyes are caused by blood vessels dilating and allowing blood to flow through them, there is not much that can be done to prevent it. However, you can try using over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears to alleviate any discomfort caused by red eyes.