The Brain and Marijuana – How the Brain Is Negatively Affected When You Smoke Marijuana
Marijuana is a complex molecule that contains over 400 cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the chemicals which give marijuana its ability to make a user feel high. THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main active ingredient in the marijuana plant. THC is a cannabinoid.
A chemical called anandamide isone of the natural cannabinoids in the brain cbd vape oil. THC mimics the actions of anandamide. THC binds with the cannabinoid receptors making the brain think it is naturally producing anadamide. It tricks the brain! Long-term use of marijuana can clog the pathways that chemicals cross (synapses) and slow/stop production of endorphins, or “feel good” chemicals, that the brain naturally produces. Below are a list of areas in the brain that are affected by marijuana use:
Cannabinoid receptors are abundant in:
Cerebral Cortex—-higher cognitive functions
Nucleus Accumbens—–reward center
Basal Ganglia—-(unconscious) movement control
Cannabinoid receptors are moderate in:
Hypothalamus—-body housekeeping functions (body temp, salt, water, sugar)
Amygdala—-emotional response/fear/flight or fight
Spinal Cord—-peripheral sensation/pain
Brain Stem—-sleep and arousal, motor control
Central Gray—-analgesia/pain control
Nucleus of solitary tract—-visceral sensation, nausea/vomiting
Still not sure why this a problem? Imagine that you are a person who smokes marijuana on a daily basis. All of the above noted areas of your brain are being affected every day. That means that your short-term memory is not always useful (eg. how often do you forget where you left your keys?) and your ability to follow directions, especially complicated ones, is inhibited. The user may need to be reminded of what was said or may need to write things down to remember the instructions. You may notice that you are not as coordinated as you once were. This may be more apparent to others than to the individual him or herself.
Marijuana can also cause a person to feel fatigue, be tired or have insomnia because of its affect on the brain stem. Additionally, your response time is slowed and can cause problems if you are operating machinery. There have been studies conducted in several countries that show that a large percentage of car accidents involved individuals who were under the influence of marijuana.
When a person first smokes, he or she feels a sense of relaxation or euphoria. Once that initial sensation is gone, depressed mood is often felt, enticing the person to smoke again. There have been many studies conducted that link marijuana use to symptoms of depression and even psychosis.
All of marijuana’s effects on the brain are not negative, there are some positive things it can do for a person. It can help to regulate pain, as it acts as a blocker to the pain receptor sites. Marijuana can help decrease symptoms of nausea or vomiting that may accompany illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS and increase the appetite of a person with such an illness. Symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder can also be managed with marijuana. The affect the substance has on the amygdala causes an ability to relax and be less reactive to things that normally cause fear or discomfort to a person with these disorders. Remember that self-medicating with marijuana is not a good idea. If you are ill and believe that medical marijuana could help you, seek the advice of a physician.
Overall, long-term, heavy use of marijuana has many negative side-effects on the brain. There are some medical uses for the substance, however, that can be beneficial if monitored by a physician. Before trying a substance such as marijuana it is a good idea to know the potential affects it will have on your brain so that you may make an informed decision and decide if you are willing to take the risks involved.