Weed has a number of side effects, from making users feel euphoric, relaxed, and even hungry. But what cannabis 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. Specific neurotransmitters in the brain act as receptors for the active ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Once smoked, it binds to cell receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which amazingly covers not just the brain, but the entire body.
Your brain on this substance 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.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, makes cannabis users 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. It prevents the hippocampus from effectively creating new memories and can also cause paranoia and anxiety in users.
While cannabis is sought after (by recreational users) due to its mind-altering properties, its counterpart in the plant, cannabidiol (CBD), 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.
The compounds that produce the feelings of being relaxed, or have the physical benefits of reducing inflammation, are called cannabinoids. And it turns out the human brain has specialized receptors that seemed designed for cannabinoids - most likely because the body produces its own.
In humans, inhaled cannabinoids act the same way as natural compounds produced by the body, and, as a result, latch onto the cannabinoid receptors with ease.
One reason cannabis is so effective is that the receptors that make the compounds work are found not just in the brain, but all over the body. That is because the human body produces its own cannabinoids. 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.