Almost everyone knows that Vitamin C is found in oranges and can help boost your immunity, but can eating an orange, or taking a tablet of vitamin C, potentially get you higher? I found myself first thinking about this when I was chugging a mango and orange smoothie, claiming, “I was staying hydrated” when my friend at the time looked over at me curiously. Naturally, we were both inebriated (scientific term for being high off anything – in this case, marijuana) and she said something I’ll never forget. “Isn’t that supposed to get you higher?”
I had never heard about this and asked her to tell me more, but she mumbled something about Yahoo answers and then I started inhaling my smoothie, and we forgot about it. Instead of researching vitamin C’s effect on marijuana, I just wound up mentioning the same thing to anyone who would listen – and hoped it was true.
Now, years later, I find myself pondering the same question and hoping that I will be able to understand the undoubtedly complex scientific explanation behind it. The first thing I do is type in “vitamin C THC” on Google (THC is a known compound found in cannabis). For some reason, I think that vitamin C must effect THC, as that is the only chemical compound that I know is in the drug. Conflicting information pops up. Some people are desperately hoping vitamin C will help them become sober and ‘cleanse’ their bodies; others are hoping for the exact opposite – that vitamin C will increase their reactions to marijuana. Most people do not give adequate answers; the things they say are vague at best.
Finally, I reach a page (healthtap.com) where doctors offer their knowledge about vitamin C. This search seems futile, as well, since the only thing one doctor has to offer is “oral vit c can cause loose bowels.” Unfortunately, this is not what I am looking for. I scroll down further. Dr. Randy S. Baker, who claims to be in holistic medicine, says that “[vitamin C] can affect levels of some antidepressants like sertraline.” I may be onto something.
Sertraline, commonly found in psychotropic drugs like Zoloft, is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). As I learned while studying physiology, this certain group of antidepressants works by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin and – thus – prolongs its time in the brain, and therefore availability. The reason this accumulation of serotonin is desirable is because many psychiatrists believe that depression is caused by an inadequate amount of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that, supposedly, helps monitor happiness by regulating levels of sleep, appetite, and the perception of pain.
Interestingly, cannabis is a well-known substance that helps regulate pain, appetite, and sleep. That is why it can be medically prescribed to cancer patients and those who are chronically ill, to help increase appetite, ability to sleep, and to reduce their levels of pain. Corroborating this idea, the UXL Encyclopedia of Science, states that cannabis was approved for use as an antidepressant in 1985. How does cannabis affect these changes? We know that serotonin is the targeted neurotransmitter in some antidepressants. What is targeted during consumption of cannabis? According to an article included in Go Ask Alice, a health journal funded by Columbia University, THC affects anandamide, a substance whose interaction with THC causes the sensation of relaxation throughout the body.
Could vitamin C somehow affect serotonin, with regards to antidepressants, and anandamide, with the use of THC? One website suggests that prolonged use of SSRI’s may increase sensitivity to vitamins, but this does not appear to be inherently bad. Indeed, most other websites say that taking vitamin C should not interfere with the effects of SSRI’s or any other kinds of antidepressants, at all. I find virtually no reputable information on the interactions between vitamin C and THC.
Desperate to find something, I search through the Science in Context database for information about vitamin C that could potentially provide me a link between THC, amandamide, serotonin, anything. I find one article, “Effects of vitamin C on the pro-inflammatory cytokines,…”, in the Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, that explains some positive benefits to taking supplemental vitamin C. In a study done on chicks, those chicks that were fed vitamin C had higher levels of total antioxidants in their blood. The chicks that were fed vitamin C also had fewer symptoms of certain inflammatory agents and, therefore, fewer allergies.
Unfortunately, I conclude that there is no real evidence showing that vitamin C has any real effect on the body’s response to THC, or serotonin, for that matter. It couldn’t hurt to consume vitamin C while high – it might boost your antioxidants and decrease susceptibility to certain allergens. However, I cannot safely say that vitamin C will help cleanse your body of THC or boost your high. Until there is sufficient evidence, we will have to leave this mystery unsolved.