What Weed Does To Your Brain Proves Humans And THC Are Kind Of Made For Each Other

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. 

  • THC Is The Compound That Makes You Feel High

    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. 

  • CBD Has Non Psychoactive Effects

    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.  

  • It Latches Onto Receptors In The Brain

    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.

  • There Are Cannabinoid Receptors In the Brain And All Over The Body

    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.

  • It Binds Directly To The Central Nervous System

    It Binds Directly To The Central Nervous System
    Photo: Cannabis Pictures / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    One side effect that users experience is the impairment of judgment and motor skills. This impairment is caused by THC, which binds to receptors throughout the body, including the central nervous system. As a result, sound and music may seem more vivid as a result of the increased sensitivity of your sensory perception. 

    Similar effects can be seen in "the munchies," another side effect in which users experience increased appetite.

  • The Anandamide Connection

    The effects of cannabis are especially magnified in the brain because of its resemblance to a cannabinoid produced naturally by the human body called anandamide. Usually, neurotransmitters take a break after firing so that the brain can rest between thoughts. But THC overwhelms the neurotransmitters and causes thoughts to continue unstopped, making users fixate on a particular idea or concept.

    Eventually, a new idea is latched onto, but memory is affected as well, meaning users cannot recall the last line of thought, no matter how profound.