Why Does Weed Make You Cough, How To Stop It, and could it make you higher?

July 10, 2019

By Ayad Maher

Coughing when you smoke weed. Trust me, we all do, and it doesn't mean you're a "noob." We all have been there, even regular cigarette smokers, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. AT ALL. For the following two reasons:

  • If you don't cough, it's only an indication that you have a "weak lung" filled with resin and toxin residue, which is something you would never want to have or brag about.

  • It's part of the whole smoking weed experience. I've been smoking daily for a couple years now, my lungs have slowly adapted, but many times, mainly when I'm using a smoking method other than what I usually use, I still cough like it's my first time.

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So when you start coughing after hitting a bowl, don't hold it. It's bad for you. Embrace it (it will actually get you more baked, I will elaborate later in the article). Don't chock yourself. And don't worry what people will say about you. I get it though, it can get annoying, especially when you're passing around a bowl or a bong while having a conversation, coughing at every hit would be embarrassing and painful to you, and irritating to everyone around you (especially if you were the only one who's coughing). 

I've been contemplating researching this and provide the best answer for all your questions about how and why and what's the solution, and here it is:

Why does weed make you cough?


Continual coughing usually caused by some type of irritation, and your lungs only reacting to it. 

  • First off, temperature: It's exactly why the hit is smoother when you use a bubbler or a bong, the smoke goes through the water to cool down and that makes it an easier hit on your lungs, some stoners put ice in their bong to cool the hit down even more. The high temperature smoke can trigger some degree of coughing (smoke temperature can get over a 1000 degrees). The lungs and throat's sensitive tissues instantly get alarmed that a strange element has entered the body and it caused to react to it.  

  • Smoke: Cannabis smoke contains some of the same irritants that are in cigarettes. once you have smoke in your lungs, your lungs immediately goes on the defensive mode and will produce excess mucous which cause coughing, basically an attempt to clear out the irritants and mucus caused by the smoke. 

  • The herb quality: Bricked up weed is typically more harsh than better quality bud. The weed quality you're smoking can have a direct impact on have a coughing attack. Poor quality weed can contain residual pesticides, dust, and other particles that can influence negatively on your smoking session. 

Why does coughing make you feel more baked? 


Yes, it does. 

You can actually utilize this to get the best out of your smoking session by giving it a small cough, which is, as I mentioned earlier, will expose more surface area in your longs to the smoke or vapor. When you cough, your lungs are gasping for oxygen, which causes the lungs to expand, your lungs' capillaries expand too. This exposes certain areas of the lung to smoke that wouldn’t otherwise; parts of the lungs that don't normally get used.

Try this method and let me know if it works in the comment below... 

  • Close off your esophagus and just leave it to the windpipe. Shift your head back backwards horizontally so that your esophagus is closed off.
  • Then just breathe in deep through your nose until all of the smoke is out of your throat.


How to stop coughing? Few tips to avoid coughing after taking a hit


If you coughing hard when you hit the bowl, you probably want to train yourself to not cough. Here are few useful tips to help you to avoid coughing after you take a hit, and please let me know your experience in the comment below.

General Tips

  • Before you take your hit, take a deep breath, then completely exhale, then hit it. Also, it will be useful to inhale a little fresh air before and after taking your hit. It will help to mix fresh air with the smoke and make it less harsh. It will also help ensure all of the smoke is in your lungs and not lingering in your throat/mouth

  •  Stick with one method of smoking, stick with one device. As you get used to a certain smoking gadget, whether it's a bong, a bowl or a vaporizer, you will know how much smoke/vape is right for you.

  • Don't hold the smoke more than you should. In one hit, the THC is absorbed within a second, however, there is THC in all the smoke, and to be able to use all of it, the smoke must touch the lung's air sacs for it all to be absorbed. I would count to three and exhale. Let the smoke swirl around a bit and let it out. So holding your breath more than 3 seconds is a moot point.

  • If you're using  bubbler or a bong, use warm or hot water for a smoother hit. Using cool water or ice in an ice catcher will cool the hit but make for a harsher throat hit, much more likely to make you cough. Whereas warm water will help keep the hit moist and gentle!

  • Switch to using a vaporizer. Vaping tastes so good, also the high feels more rounded and prominent, and, on the long run, it's better for your lungs. You can still cough using a vaporizer, but it's less harsh. You also can customize the temperature.

Related articles: Vaporizer high or Smoking high?
  • Try edibles. You will have a slightly different experience, especially at the beginning when you're not sure what's the good dosage for you, but once you get the hang of it, you will enjoy it. The high you can get out of edibles can be unreal and last for up to 8 hours. I would suggest to smoke a tiny bit after taking your edibles, that usually helps them really kick in. 

  • I hear mint can help. I personally never tried it, but if you do, please let me know how it worked for you in the comment below. 

  • Keep your weed fresh using an airtight container and find yourself a good grinder

  • Swallowing helps. I love taking a large sip of cold beer after taking a hit (check out this video of my favorite Grandma ever!). Keep cup of cold water handy. Preferably with a bit of lemon, or eating any type of citrus when you smoke or vape, makes a difference. It will increase your salivate which will help with the dryness. I find a nice glass of lemonade works like a charm during a session too. Cold milk or any thick fruity drink (orange, mango, etc.) do the job to. And if you don't have any type of drink around you, just dry swallow. 


Using a bong, pipe or a joint

  • It's a marathon, not a sprint! Don’t torch the whole bowl. Take smaller hits that that you know that you can hold it. Take 10 small hits instead of 3 big ones. You'll get where you need to be. It can also be useful if you were packing bowls that you can clear in one hit. 

  • Smoke with an active charcoal filter. Scientific Inhalations has developed a unique inhalation device designed to provide an improved experience for its users over alternative devices. The device, named McFinn’s Triple-Filtered Waterpipe, consists of a glass bubbler and has two chambers containing different filter materials. Read the Summary Report to Scientific Inhalations Regarding McFinn’s Triple-Filtered Waterpipe With Pesticides here and here.

  • Try different smoking methods, for example those that are filtered through water will be smoother. Get a bubbler or a bong, as the smoke goes through the water, it will cool it down and make the hit smoother (put some ice ice in the bong). Keep in mind, don't hit a bowl the way you hit a bong. AND, if you switch from bong to pipe, don't pull as hard or you'll cough up a lung.

  • For joints, use a filters. Avoid spliffs.Tobacco can be harsher than weed on the throat. Also, they way you usually inhale tobacco is different than the way you inhale weed, for instance, you don't hold tobacco smoke in your lungs like you do with weed. 

Related article: 7 Tips For Your First Time Smoking Marijuana and How to Inhale?

  • Clean your piece regularly to get rid of all the particles and leftover resins that may irritate your throat and/or lung. Cleaning your piece will help to cut down on the amount of double burnt substance.

Finally, don't give up! You will be just fine. 

      Stay toasty my friends. 

      Ayad Maher is a Cannabis Industry Entrepreneur, Blogger & Activist. eCommerce Specialist and Owner of a 420 Life Style Website; Monroe Blvd, an online smoke shop; 421Store, and an online CBD store; GoodyCBD.