Should you take niacin to help beat a drug test? There is no evidence that it works and it has even landed some people in the hospital.

Although there is a lot of bad advice on passing drug tests, most of it is harmless. (Well harmless is a relative term, you may lose a job or end up in prison if you fail).

However, the advice on using niacin to help you pass a drug test has been downright dangerous. There is nearly a decade of reports of people who used niacin in an attempt to pass a drug test and end up in the emergency room:

While niacin is not typically dangerous at recommended dosages, some people have overdosed in a desperate attempt to pass an upcoming drug test. The real kicker is that there is not even any evidence that it works!

[Always test yourself to know whether you’ll pass! Here are the test strips I recommend.]

 

What is Niacin?

Niacin is a small molecule that is also known as nicotinic acid and vitamin B3.

 

Your body is capable of producing niacin and it is also found naturally in many different foods. Niacin is legally sold as a dietary supplement (seriously, you can practically buy it by the pound on Amazon).

Niacin is used to treat high cholesterol. It can lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol). It is sometimes used instead of statins to improve cardiovascular outcomes.

Niacin does have some side effects. The most common is flushing, which is warmth, redness, itching, or tingling of the skin. It is a result of release of inflammatory molecules which cause vasodilation (relaxation of the blood vessels).  This may feel uncomfortable, but it is not serious.

More serious side effects can also occur. These include hepatotoxicity (liver damage) and rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of skeletal muscle leading to kidney damage).

When used appropriately under the supervision of a physician, dosages can be slowly titrated up and lab tests used to monitor for these toxicities, ensuring the safety of the patient. Of course when someone goes straight to a huge dose in attempting to beat a drug test, these precautions are not in place.

 

How Could Niacin Help Pass a Drug Test?

Unlike activated charcoal and zinc, there aren’t any scientific studies of using niacin to pass a drug test. So I searched non-scientific websites to see what claims people were making about niacin and drug testing.

There are two ways that people claim niacin can speed elimination of THC and/or metabolites from the body. Frankly, neither of them are very plausible.

Claim #1: Niacin speeds breakdown of fat, causing release of THC/metabolites.

This simply isn’t true. If niacin were to truly increase release of stored fat, it would be used for weight loss. Even after decades of study, there is no evidence that it promotes loss of body fat.

If you are niacin deficient, your body may have trouble converting fat to other fuels. There is probably nobody reading this who is niacin deficient. Adding more niacin to your diet will not promote fat loss. Therefore, this claim is false.

I still think that reducing body fat is a good strategy for reducing THC levels. But the way to do it is through diet and exercise.

Photo credit: http://biology4isc.weebly.com

Claim #2: Niacin opens blood vessels in fat tissue, causing release of THC/metabolites.

The flushing that people feel after taking niacin is due to vasodilation in the skin. I have not seen any evidence that vasodilation also occurs in fat tissue. Niacin had no immediate effect on blood pressure in healthy people, indicating that the vasodilation is not happening everywhere in the body.

Even if niacin does cause vasodilation in fat tissue, there is no evidence that this would cause release of THC or metabolites. THC is not “trapped” in fat, it is actually quite free to move between blood and fat.

There is an equilibrium between levels in the blood and fat tissue and as THC is eliminated from the blood, some THC moves out of the fat to maintain the equilibrium. Although this doesn’t happen instantly, there is no evidence that vasodilation would increase it.

[Always test yourself to know whether you’ll pass! Here are the test strips I recommend.]

 

Can Niacin Help Pass a Drug Test?

I cannot say that niacin definitely won’t help you pass a drug test. There has not been any study showing that it doesn’t work.

However, there is also no evidence that niacin will help you pass a drug test. In fact, a few of the studies on niacin overdoses noted that people still failed a drug screen. On top of that, there is no mechanistic reason why it should help. The proposed mechanisms of how it releases THC from fat do not hold up to critical analysis.

I do not recommend niacin as a method for beating drug tests. There are better methods to focus your attention on. But if you do decide to use niacin, please keep to recommended dosages. I already pointed out at the beginning that niacin overdose has led to a number of hospitalizations throughout the years.

Extra credit reading: Want to know where the idea that niacin is “detoxifying” came from? None other than L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Yes, that Scientology that believes we came from outer space aliens.

Photo credit: South Park

[Always test yourself to know whether you’ll pass! Here are the test strips I recommend.]

 

[Featured image: http://histologyolm.stevegallik.org]

Last modified: January 3, 2018

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