02 Dec How Marijuana Affects Your Mind and Body
You know you like to smoke marijuana, or maybe you never tried it and you’re curious about what will happen after you light up. Consuming marijuana will affect the mind and body, from head to toe. While everyone’s experience is slightly different, researchers have been able to pinpoint why marijuana causes common symptoms (red eyes, forgetfulness, the munchies, etc.)
Know the different effects of marijuana before you light up or pop in an edible. For many people, marijuana can help to reduce pain and provide much-needed relief. But it is not without some serious and long-lasting side effects. Understand both sides before you toke up.
How Marijuana Affects the Mind
Marijuana is legal, but it’s still a drug. It contains THC, an intoxicating cannabinoid that is responsible for getting you stoned. THC interacts with a few parts of the brain, causing short-term and long-term effects.
THC is a chemical compound that looks a lot like anandamide. Anandamide an endocannabinoid is created by the brain and to help improve your mood. Some scientists believe that it’s anandamide, rather than endorphins, that causes a “runner’s high.”
For most people, getting high on THC feels like a runner’s high. THC interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (EC) to alter mood and thinking. Depending on your body and the amount of THC, the EC may cause you to feel extra giggly or maybe feel anxious and paranoid. If you want to reduce your risk of paranoia, consume smaller amounts of THC.
THC also interacts with the hippocampus, which affects memory. You might forget things when you’re high or have trouble focusing. When THC hits the cerebellum, you might lose balance and your reaction time may be severely limited.
These effects don’t just affect you in the hours after you smoked. Smoking weed consistently can have long-lasting effects on the mind, especially if you start to smoke marijuana at a young age. The brain is still forming until you hit your early 20s.
How Marijuana Affects the Eyes
Marijuana also affects the body physically, from the head down to the feet. One of the tell-tale signs of a stoner is their bloodshot eyes. Why does weed make your eyes so red?
Marijuana can increase the heart rate by up to 50 beats per minute. It can also widen the size of the blood vessels in the eyes. The wider the blood vessels, the more red you see in someone’s eyes.
But many patients with eye conditions may use marijuana as a medicine. Glaucoma is an eye condition in which high eye pressure damages the connection between the brain and the eye. This can cause blindness and is sometimes painful.
Marijuana reduces pressure in the eyes to treat glaucoma and provide relief to patients. Glaucoma is one of the top reasons why patients go to the doctor for medical marijuana.
How Smoking Marijuana Affects the Lungs
The way that you consume marijuana will have an impact on the way it affects your body. When you light up a joint, you produce smoke. Smoke in any form is dangerous for the lungs – even breathing in too much smoke from a campfire can negatively affect your lungs. Regularly breathing in smoke from a joint can fill your lungs with tiny particles. As the lungs get clogged up, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer or respiratory illnesses.
(The risk comes from the smoke, not the marijuana itself. If you are concerned about lung health, consider consuming marijuana in alternative ways. Edibles, concentrates, and vape pens aren’t combustible.)
How Smoking Marijuana Affects the Stomach
The endocannabinoid system sends messages back and forth with the hypothalamus, which affects appetite. Smoking marijuana may cause you to feel very hungry. Hunger, mixed with a slow reaction time or loss of focus, may lead to the consumption of a lot of food. This is less formally known as “the munchies.” Patients going through chemotherapy often consume marijuana for this benefit.
Marijuana is unlikely to cause nausea and vomiting unless it’s digested through an edible. Even then, you will need to have consumed a fair amount of edibles to feel nauseous or throw up. Start with a small dose of edibles and wait at least an hour before increasing the dosage.
For some, marijuana can help to treat nausea.
How Marijuana Affects the Body
When you smoke certain strains or eat an edible, you might experience “couch-lock.” Scientists aren’t completely sure why marijuana (or specifically, cannabis indica) causes couch-lock, but it could have to do with marijuana’s sedative effects. Heightened sensory perception may also contribute to feeling the heaviness of your body.
Marijuana and Pain
The endocannabinoid system also affects different types of pain throughout the body. It regulates inflammation, a function of the immune system which helps to protect the body from disease but sends out a “warning signal” in the form of pain. Marijuana consumption can help to reduce inflammation and reduce the associated nociceptive pain.
Marijuana can also help to reduce neuropathic pain. This pain arises from damaged nerves throughout the body. Patients with MS, cancer, and shingles all experience some levels of neuropathic pain. Using marijuana, specifically edibles and concentrates, is becoming a more popular way to treat this pain.
CBD, another cannabinoid in marijuana, can reduce other types of pain by encouraging the release of serotonin throughout the body. If you experience chronic pain, talk to your doctor about CBD-high marijuana strains.
Every Strain is Different. Every Person Is Different.
Some people can take a few rips of a bong and not feel hungry. Others may smoke a joint or two and get very paranoid. Your tolerance and body chemistry plays a role in the way marijuana affects your body and mind.
Different strains also play a role in how you feel after smoking marijuana. Sativas like Ghost Train Haze may make you feel more alert. Indicas like Death Bubba or Violator Kush may weigh you down at the end of the night and send you off to sleep. Keep experimenting and trying new things!