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The Truth About Hookah Buzz: Does Shisha Get You High?

20 Jun 2023

Are you curious about shisha or hookah and its effects on the body? Well, you're not alone!

Shisha hookah has been around for centuries and is still a popular social activity in many parts of the world. But does it really get you high?


How is shisha or hookah used?

Hookah is a water pipe that was invented by Abul-Fath Gilani, a Persian physician of Akbar in India and made its way to the Middle East. It is used for smoking flavoured tobacco, known as shisha or mu'assel.

  • Using shisha hookah involves preparing the tobacco by mixing it with molasses and glycerin to create a moist and sticky texture.
  • Once prepared, the tobacco is placed into the bowl at the top of the hookah.
  • A piece of foil is placed over the bowl, with small holes poked through it to allow airflow.
  • Charcoal pieces are heated on an external burner and placed on the foil cover, which heats up and vaporises the flavoured tobacco.
  • The smoke produced from this heating process travels down through a stem connected to a hose that users inhale from.
  • Before inhaling, users blow out any stale smoke left in their mouths so they can fully taste each puff.

Shisha smoking typically involves sharing one communal pipe among friends rather than each person having their own individual device, like cigarettes.

People usually buy shisha for social settings such as cafes or lounges where they get together for conversation while enjoying this traditional smoking method.

Does shisha or hookah get you high?

The effects of shisha smoking can be attributed to nicotine in the tobacco mixture. Nicotine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in tobacco leaves, and it interacts with the body's receptors, leading to certain physiological and sensory experiences.

While shisha smoking may not result in a traditional "high" like that associated with illegal drugs, it offers a unique, enjoyable experience for many individuals.

  • When you take a puff from a shisha pipe, the smoke travels through the water chamber and into your lungs.
  • As the nicotine is absorbed into your bloodstream, it stimulates the release of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
  • These neurotransmitters can contribute to the sensations you may experience while smoking shisha.

One of the common effects of shisha hookah smoking is getting a “kick”,  a buzz or a “head spins”. This sensation is often described as a feeling of relaxation, feeling mellow and a sense of well-being.

It can differ from person to person, and the intensity of the buzz depends on factors such as the nicotine content of the tobacco, the depth of inhalation, and individual sensitivity to nicotine.

The effects of nicotine are relatively short-lived, lasting for a few minutes to an hour, based on the individual and the smoking session. Additionally, the effects can vary based on the frequency and duration of shisha smoking. Also, regular smokers may develop a tolerance to nicotine over time.

However, it is crucial to be cautious regarding nicotine consumption. Nicotine is an addictive substance, and prolonged or excessive use of shisha can lead to dependence and potential health risks. Also, be mindful of your consumption habits and consider the potential long-term effects on your overall health and well-being.

The role of nicotine and flavours in shisha

Variation in nicotine level

The nicotine content in shisha can vary depending on the brand and type of tobacco used. Different manufacturers may be used different blends and processing methods, resulting in variations in nicotine levels. Some shisha brands offer tobacco mixtures with higher nicotine content, while others may provide options with lower nicotine levels.

It is also worth noting that the nicotine content in shisha is generally lower than that found in cigarettes. This is due to the nature of shisha smoking, where the tobacco is heated rather than burned, resulting in lower nicotine release.

Dismissing the idea of psychoactive effects from flavours

It is important to clarify that shisha flavours do not have any mind-altering or psychoactive effects. Some individuals mistakenly believe that the flavours in shisha can produce a high or intoxication, similar to certain illegal substances. However, this is a misconception. The flavours used in shisha are primarily meant to enhance the taste and aroma of the smoke, creating a pleasant and satisfying experience for the senses.

The bottom line!

The truth about shisha hookah buzz is that there are various factors involved in whether or not you experience any effect. Hence, it is necessary to understand what goes into your shisha and how much you are smoking before deciding if it will get you high.

Hookah buzz is also known as a kick or head spins. Although it does not make you feel high as if you were smoking marijuana, however the buzz you feel that some users describe as a “high” is unique with a different type of feeling.

Everyone's reaction to nicotine and other substances can vary, so be aware of your own body and act accordingly. With the right education and understanding, hookahs can be enjoyed responsibly without fear of getting too high.

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