Cannabis Science

Why Does Spironolactone Smell Like Weed?

Photo by danilo.alvesd on Unsplash

You’re probably confused if you’ve just opened a bottle of spironolactone pills and hit with the smell of weed. So why does spironolactone smell like weed? Well, here’s what we know. 

Photo: Unsplash

What is Spironolactone, and What Does it Treat?

Maybe you’ve never used spironolactone but know someone who does. Or perhaps you use spironolactone for a specific condition but are curious about its other uses. 

According to WebMD, Spironolactone, also known as the ‘water pill,’ is used to treat:

  • high blood pressure 
  • heart failure
  • swelling (edema)
  • conditions in which the body is making too much aldosterone

In addition to those conditions, Cosmopolitan reports that spironolactone can treat acne.

But how does spironolactone work?

Well, according to Medline Plus, spironolactone is an aldosterone receptor antagonist. Since it’s commonly used by people who make too much alderstone, it binds to the respective receptor and blocks it instead of activating it. Producing too much aldosterone, called hyperaldosteronism, can cause lower potassium levels. It can lead to muscle spasms and weakness.

According to Medline Plus, Spironolactone causes the kidney to expel excess water and sodium from the body. However, it reduces the loss of potassium in the body. 

As mentioned before, this medication can also help people with acne. As Cosmopolitan explains, spironolactone blocks androgen, which is a male hormone. Therefore women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can use it for their hormonal acne. 

Dr. Justine Kluk told Cosmopolitan, “The reason that Spironolactone works in acne is twofold. Testosterone causes the sebaceous glands in our skin to produce more oil. It also makes our skin thicker. The combined effect of these is increased pore-clogging. By blocking the actions of testosterone on our skin, the risk of clogged pores and subsequent acne is reduced.”

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Why Does My Spironolactone Smell Like Weed?

Some people believe spironolactone has a distinct weed smell. One Reddit user describes the smell as “weed mixed with Vicks.” Another said, “I’ve always referred to it as minty skunk.”

Ames Tribune states, “3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, or 321MBT, is believed to cause the skunky smell associated with marijuana.” Spironolactone has a much different chemical formula. However, various compounds can result in similar smells. 

One of the ingredients in spironolactone medication is calcium sulfate. At first glance, we figured this was the cause of the ‘weed smell .’However, calcium sulfate is odorless. The culprit may just be the spironolactone itself. According to PubChem, the compound has a “mild mercaptan-like odor .” Chem Service describes mercaptan odor as rotten cabbage, garlicky, dirty socks, or smelly feet. Perhaps the alpha-acetylsulfanyl group is responsible for the smell. 

Spironolactone is often described as also having a minty smell.

Timothy J. Warner, the associate director of pharmacy at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., told ABC News that he heard about the “minty, menthol smell” of spironolactone.

Spironolactone has a minty smell because of the peppermint flavoring we found in the ingredients list. It may be added to cover up the sulfur smell. 

Interestingly, some strains of weed smell like mint. If you’re used to those strains, spironolactone may smell like weed to you for that reason. 

According to True Labs Cannabis, some strains like Jack Herer and Trainwreck have a minty smell. They believe it’s due to terpenes such as phellandrene, menthol, and eucalyptol. These terpenes are known for their minty smell and have been found in small concentrations in cannabis plants. However, even small concentrations of these terpenes can lead to a noticeable minty smell. 

Does Spironolactone Have Weed in It?

No, it doesn’t.

 According to USA Today, there are three prescription medications with cannabis in them:

  • Sativex (used to treat spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis)
  • Marinol (used to treat nausea in cancer patients or loss of appetite in HIV patients)
  • Casemet (also used to treat nausea in cancer patients)

Marinol and Casemet use synthetic THC. Generally, synthetic marijuana doesn’t smell like real weed. Sativex, on the other hand, may have a weed smell. According to NPS Medicine Wise, Sativex uses THC and CBD botanical substances (BDS). NPS Medicine Wise says, “The physical descriptions of both THC BDS and CBD BDS are brown, viscous, semi-solid (soft) extracts with a characteristic odour of cannabis….”

Can You Take Weed With Spironolactone?

If you’re a stoner prescribed spironolactone, you may wonder if you should smoke from a bong or not. 

Well, we recommend asking your doctor whether or not it’s safe to mix. 

There is not a ton of information on interactions between spironolactone and weed. One Reddit user who utilizes both said, “I smoke and have edibles pretty often; I’ve been on Spiro for 6 months and have noticed no side effects.” Another in a different thread also noticed no side effects; they said, “I use a vape daily for chronic disease, and as far as I know, there’s no interaction.”

However, not everyone has been lucky. One Reddit user said, “I tried smoking weed on spiro and had the worst panic attack of my life, honestly.” Another user said, “I use to smoke daily but had to stop when I started spiro. It causes my blood pressure to drop down to 90/65, I even fainted once after smoking.”

WebMD says that mixing both could increase specific side effects of spironolactone. They said, “Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy.” Diarrhea is also a side effect of this medication. If weed also gives you diarrhea, there is a chance that the side effect may be amplified. 

In addition, if you’re taking spironolactone because of heart issues, you may want to avoid weed. Weed can worsen heart conditions. 


Why does spironolactone smell like weed? We believe it’s the spironolactone compound itself which is described as having a mercaptan-like odor. If spironolactone smells minty to you, it has peppermint flavoring. Some stoners use strains of weed that smell like mint, and so the minty smell of spironolactone could remind them of weed. If you’re concerned about the smell, speak to your pharmacist or doctor. 


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].