Smoking weed has a number of side effects, from making smokers feel euphoric, relaxed, and even hungry. But what marijuana does to your brain specifically is more complicated than just taking a few puffs and listening to Incubus.
The feeling of being high is one of the more natural drug interactions that the body can have. There are specific neurotransmitters in the brain that are receptors for the active ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Once it is smoked, marijuana binds to cell receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which amazingly covers not just the brain, but the entire body.
Your brain on marijuana is a curious thing, and the science behind its interactions with the body is widely misunderstood. So read on to discover some of the little-known facts about pot, and its effect on the mind.
THC Is The Compound That Makes You Feel High
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, makes marijuana smokers feel high. It produces a feeling of euphoria by causing the body to release dopamine into the blood stream.
The compound is also responsible for some of the negative side effects of marijuana. THC prevents the hippocampus from effectively creating new memories and can also cause paranoia and anxiety in users.
CBD Has Non Psychoactive Effects
While THC is sought after (by recreational drug users) due to its mind-altering properties, its counterpart in the cannabis plant, CBD – or cannabidiol – does not have psychoactive properties.
Rather, CBD has medicinal uses that make it attractive in treating conditions like epilepsy, depression, and inflammation. By just having the physical (and not the psychoactive) elements, CBD has a garnered a lot of attention for treating chronic conditions safely.
It Latches On To Receptors In The Brain
In a way, humans and marijuana are made for each other. The compound in marijuana that produces the feelings of being relaxed, or have the physical benefits of reducing inflammation, are called cannabinoids.
In humans, these cannabinoids act the same way as a natural compound produced by the body, and, as a result, latch onto the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
There Are Cannabinoid Receptors In the Brain And All Over The Body
One reason marijuana is so effective as a drug is that the receptors for the compounds which make it effective are found all over the body.
The system that cannabinoids are a part of is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS covers a vast area of the body, including the digestive tract, skin, reproductive organs, and, of course, the central nervous system.