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Understanding the Brain's Response to Being High - Medical Weeds Online

Understanding the Brain’s Response to Being High

Understanding the Brain’s Response to Being High

If you lived in the United States during the 80s and 90s, you might recall the iconic anti-drug advertisement, “This is your brain on drugs.” 

The brief TV ad featured an egg, symbolizing the brain, cracked into a frying pan. The narrator solemnly declared, “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”.

Well, what exactly happens to your brain after consuming cannabis? Let’s find out.

Cannabis and Its Effect on Your Brain

Cannabis engages with your brain through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is primarily tasked with maintaining balance or homeostasis in bodily functions like sleep, hunger, pain, inflammation, mood, and memory.

The ECS features receptors spread throughout the body, including the brain, which is then activated by endocannabinoids produced naturally by our bodies and cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.

Upon entering the bloodstream, cannabis chemicals like THC and CBD disperse throughout the body. The activation of these chemicals in the brain can result in altered coordination, euphoria, anxiety, relaxation, disorientation, confusion, or a sense of being “high.” 

Memory may be impacted, and pain or nausea can be alleviated or intensified depending on the dosage.

The Effects of THC on Your Brain

THC activates CB1 receptors found in various brain regions responsible for functions like memory (hippocampus) and emotion (amygdala). 

When THC interacts with these receptors, it initiates a chain reaction that modifies certain processes and signals in the body.

These processes can also influence neurotransmitters which can affect mood, sleep, and pain, such as GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. This interaction leads to various effects of cannabis, including pain relief, relaxation, and the commonly described “high.”

On the other hand, CBD, which is another prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis, operates differently. 

It can mitigate some of THC’s effects by blocking a portion of its impact on the brain, reducing its disorienting psychotropic effects. Additionally, CBD can enhance anandamide, often termed the “bliss molecule,” by inhibiting certain enzymes responsible for its breakdown.

The impact of chronic cannabis use on cognitive function is still inconclusive, with some studies showing no significant differences between cannabis users and non-users. 

While certain studies suggest mild cognitive deficits in long-term cannabis users, these impairments are notably less severe than those associated with long-term alcohol use.

Additionally, there is evidence suggesting that medical cannabis users, particularly those with conditions like ADHD or Tourette’s, may experience cognitive benefits from cannabis use. 

In cases where cannabis helps manage conditions such as chronic pain, depression, anxiety, or other diseases affecting cognition, it may have a positive impact.