The brain is one of the most important organs in the body. It impacts how we think, feel, behave, and act. Some of the major functions of the brain are attention, concentration, self-monitoring, organization, mental flexibility, personality, and speaking.
Medical researchers believe that abnormalities in brain function can lead to the development of mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. And, marijuana can help in correcting them by boosting mood, memory, sleep, etc. By getting a medical cannabis card San Diego, you can easily access state-licensed dispensaries.
Now, the question is—how cannabis affects the brain? Does chronic use impair brain function? Let’s learn.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the internal cannabinoid system present in the brain and central nervous system. It plays an important role in regulating mood, behavior, memory, sleep, appetite, etc., thus impacting overall health. Its main function is to maintain a healthy environment.
To understand how marijuana works in the body, you need to learn about the endocannabinoid system. Medical researchers have discovered the two major cannabinoid receptors in the ECS. CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are present in the brain, nervous system, and also in certain organs. These receptors are activated by THC, thus delivering psychoactive effects associated with the herb.
On the other hand, CB2 receptors are usually found in the immune system and are responsible for providing anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is one of the major causes of various diseases.
In the body, neurons are responsible for processing information between cells. Neurotransmitters allow these neurons to communicate, and also fill the gap between two neurons and attach to protein receptors. Phytocannabinoids, such as THC mimic or inhibit the actions of chemical compounds present in the body, thus changing the normal function.
Medical Cannabis & The Brain
The human brain comprises a group of cannabinoids in different places. These receptors play a key role in regulating mental and physical activities, such as coordination, learning, problem-solving, and memory.
The cannabinoid receptors are activated by chemical compounds called neurotransmitters, such as anandamide. Both THC and anandamide have the same chemical structure. That means THC mimics the anandamide functions, it can bind to cannabinoid receptors, thus delivering positive effects.
Research says that marijuana can be used as an effective treatment for mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.
CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana, works like SSRIs, i.e. targeting the serotonin system. It stops the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, thus boosting wellness.
Moreover, studies have found that CBD helps in producing more neurons in the hippocampus region in the brain. CBD use can help patients cope with anxiety and discomfort when speaking.
Marijuana can help in managing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a progressive disease that starts from the hippocampus region. The condition can lead to cognitive and memory impairment. Research says that Alzheimer’s disease can result in anxiety and depression, and cannabis can help in managing these health issues.
The Munchies Effect
When you consume cannabis, you experience the munchies i.e. strong desire to eat food. This helps in managing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. Marijuana works by affecting certain neurons associated with suppressing appetite. An animal study published in 2015 explained why consumers feel hungry after consuming marijuana. The researchers noticed what was happening to the mice’s appetite after cannabis use. They expected that the herb would turn off the activity of neurons that suppress appetite. But, contrary to that, those neurons were activated, thus releasing chemicals linked to promoting hunger.
Medical researchers have found that cannabis use can boost appetite, thus helping consumers to gain weight. Actually, THC makes the food smell and taste good.
A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry reported that THC is effective in releasing ghrelin by attaching to receptors present in the hypothalamus. Ghrelin is a hormone associated with appetite.
Many think that the munchies effect can lead to overeating. But, this isn’t right. Cannabis can help both—individuals who want to boost appetite and those who want to control their eating habits. By choosing the right cannabis strains, you can get the required health benefits.
Are There Any Side-Effects?
Cannabis consumption may make it hard for you to focus on and learn things. However, these are short-term effects, which can last for less than 24 hours after you use marijuana.
But, in teens who use cannabis heavily, it may lead to permanent effects. This is because the child’s brain is still in the development phase. Studies reported that teens who use cannabis are likely to experience an IQ drop in the future. Researchers analyzed IQ tests of over 1000 participants at the age of 13 and 38. About 5 percent of the participants started cannabis consumption when they were teens. The results were—those who used cannabis at least 4 times a week and continued using it, reported an IQ drop of 8 points (average).
However, it’s not clear how exactly cannabis use affects consumers’ IQ. But, scientists believe that teens are more likely to marijuana’s effects on brain chemistry.
Tips For Marijuana Consumers
See How Much You Are Consuming
Before consuming cannabis, make sure you check the chemicals, such as THC. This is because it can deliver different effects for low and high doses. Research says that low doses of THC can help in easing anxiety while high THC doses may worsen the symptoms.
Most experts suggest starting with a low dose. Microdosing is effective in learning about the effects of cannabinoids on your body. Thus, you can adjust the dosage right for your condition.
There are many ways of consuming cannabis. Smoking is the most common delivery method. It delivers quick effects but is not safe for patients with lung problems.
Vaping allows you to experience marijuana’s medicinal effects immediately. In this method, no combustion takes place, so carcinogens or harmful chemicals aren’t produced. The new, advanced vaporizers come with temperature control features, allowing users to have customized vaping experiences based on their needs.
Additionally, you can eat marijuana-infused candies, cookies, brownies, and beverages. It’s important to note that edibles delay the effect because the cannabinoids have to travel through the digestive system before entering into the bloodstream. After eating edibles, you need to wait for 30 minutes to 2 hours to feel the effects. However, edibles last longer than smoking or vaping—up to 8 hours.
Marijuana interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, thus providing anxiety relief, pain relief, and managing various other conditions. Its cannabinoids, such as THC bind to the cannabinoid receptors, thus providing medicinal effects.
Cannabis use can cause munchies effect, thus boosting appetite and managing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. The science behind this is—THC binds to receptors in the hypothalamus, thus releasing ghrelin, an appetite hormone.
When using cannabis for medical purposes, the dosage is very important. If you are a beginner, we advise you to start with a low dose. Additionally, you should carefully select delivery methods and strains by checking cannabinoid profiles. Seek professional help if possible.
Talk to a licensed doctor to get your medical cannabis card San Diego today.