The effect of cannabis on the brainSales Happy Holland
Human use of cannabis has a long history, stretching back thousands of years. Despite this long history and its intertwining with the development of global human culture, proper scientific research into the effects of cannabis has only recently begun. Of course we all know roughly what effects we can expect when you smoke a joint, but it has only been in the past thirty years or so that science has focused much on this. In this blog we take a closer look at the scientific explanations about the effects of cannabis on the human brain.
Receptors and the endocannabinoid system
To understand how weed affects your body and brain, it is necessary to understand what the endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, is. The ECS is a network of receptors known as the universal regulator of the human body. It occurs everywhere in your body, and to a large extent in the central nervous system. So the ECS contains receptors, and these receptors are specially designed to bind to cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are substances that are mainly found in cannabis, which is where the name comes from. Examples of this are CBD, CBG, CBN, but also THC. These different cannabinoids provide varied effects because the receptors are spread all over the body. The receptors are divided into CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in the brain, so they are partly responsible for what cannabis does to the brain.
Via the lungs to the brain
What exactly happens when you smoke a joint? When you smoke weed or hashish, the released cannabinoids end up in your blood via your lungs. Via the blood they are carried throughout the body where they bind to CB2 receptors. In addition, the cannabinoids are carried via the blood to the brain where they bind to CB1 receptors. This binding of cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, provides the characterizing effects we have come to expect from cannabis. Below are some of those effects.
Getting 'munchies' is probably one of the best-known effects of smoking weed. It is an illusion of hunger that ensures that you can and want to keep eating even though you have already had more than enough. This effect is explained by THC binding to the CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus. This is an area of the brain where appetite is regulated. The concrete effect is that under the influence of THC, the brain sends signals that the body is hungry, when in fact this is not the case.
Changed sense of time
In addition to getting munchies, cannabis also has an effect related to the perception of time. Cannabis has a cerebral stimulating effect because of its influence on the dopamine system. Because you get a pleasant feeling from dopamine, smoking weed or hashish can also be experienced as such by many people. An additional effect of this is that things seem to be happening around you faster than they actually are.
Effect on memory
One of the feared known effects of cannabis is its influence on memory. Many people who use cannabis experience a disruption, or sometimes even extensive erasure of their memory. Just to give a disclaimer right away, this only applies to short-term memory, and smoking joints is very unlikely to have a permanent negative impact on memory. During the moments when you are high or stoned, your memory can be affected. The explanation can be found in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that plays an important role in short-term memory. This area contains a very high concentration of CB1 receptors. When these receptors are bound with cannabinoids, particularly THC, short-term memory function is disrupted, albeit temporarily.
Of course, these are not the only three effects cannabis has on the brain. The brain is an extremely complex organ that regulates countless processes. In addition to the three major effects mentioned earlier, there are many other effects that influence the function of the brain to a greater or lesser extent. In addition, everyone experiences the effects in his or her own way, because everyone's own ECS is jointly responsible for the effects.