A warm cup of coffee and a fresh bowl of flower are what many (us included) would consider a great way to start the day. However, while both are known for their uplifting effects on the body, it may not always be clear how they work together, if at all. In honour of International Coffee Day this week, we are exploring the science behind a favourite combination in the cannabis community: coffee and cannabis. Read on to learn more about caffeine’s effect on the body, how it works with the endocannabinoid system, and what these two substances do when they work together.
Coffee’s Effect on The Body
The caffeine in coffee is known for providing an immediate buzz and boosting energy levels throughout the day. Although for some scientists and health experts, the jury is still out on whether or not coffee provides many health benefits. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Medicine in 2018 found that increased coffee consumption led to fewer and fewer metabolites. Metabolites are molecules which are produced when the body metabolizes something and can carry out a range of functions. Essentially, this study showed that as more coffee was consumed, there were fewer caffeine metabolites found in the endocannabinoid system.
The Importance of the Endocannabinoid SystemBoth coffee and cannabis interact with the endocannabinoid system, which is in charge of many functions including metabolism, blood pressure, sleep, immunity, appetite, glucose, and cognition. As we explored earlier this month, the endocannabinoid system even plays into why we get the munchies after consuming cannabis. Yet, the way that caffeine affects this system is not to speed it up or heighten its effects, but rather to slow it down. In fact, the same 2018 study found that instead of activating the endocannabinoid system, coffee actually activates the androsteriod system. This system controls the excretion of steroids in the body, which play a part in many conditions and, as a result, warrants further study.
Consuming Coffee and Cannabis Together
If coffee slows down the endocannabinoid system and cannabis activates it, how can they work together? Well, they may not be able to, at least not in high doses. A study conducted in 2012 tested giving subjects caffeine and THC, separately and in combination, and then monitored them for short-term memory effects. After caffeine and THC, administered separately, the subjects showed improved memory skills with both substances; however, after being given caffeine and THC together, their memory skills were worse. A 2014 study even found that subjects who consumed a lot of caffeine beforehand craved higher doses of THC than those who had consumed lower doses, which may lead to the excess consumption of cannabis.
Bear in mind, there’s still plenty of research to be done on how coffee and cannabis interact with the body when consumed simultaneously. However, anyone who struggles with liver or memory problems may want to exercise caution when combining these two substances. It’s vital to know the effects of coffee and cannabis together to avoid overconsumption and any possible side effects. Simply remember to “start low and go slow” in order to maintain a healthy relationship with coffee and cannabis. Here’s to responsibly consuming both coffee and cannabis, cheers!