Though the effects of Marijuana vary from person to person, people mainly experience two different types of sensations. It can either make you high in the head or give you a full-body ‘stoned’ effect. As scientific studies suggest, two cannabinoids present in cannabis plants are largely responsible for producing these distinctive effects on the human body and brain. While the cannabinoid CBD or cannabidiol is responsible for the full-body relaxant and sedative effects, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol produces the euphoric cerebral ‘high’. This post seeks to explain what THC is and how it works on human body. There are lots of marijuana strains and various cannabis derivatives available in the market that contain high amounts of THC in them. Keep reading this post to know how THC cannabis affects the brain as well as what its side-effects are.
What is THC?
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as delta9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is a psychoactive cannabinoid present in all cannabis plants and products in varying ratios. In terms of molecular structure, it is exactly like the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid CBD – both have 21 carbon, 30 hydrogen, and 2 oxygen atoms. It is the unique arrangements of these atoms that make the two cannabinoids distinctive in terms of their character and effects. Both of them interact with the neurotransmitter-releasing receptors in the human brain quite differently to produce unique sensations. While THC gives you a highly energetic cerebral high, CBD works on your brain to produce calm of mind and full-body relaxation.
How THC works on human brain
The human brain has its own endogenous cannabinoid system that releases various chemical compounds or neurotransmitters to circulate messages between nerve cells. You can think of it as our body’s own communication system. In effect, these neurotransmitters influence our memory, thinking abilities, motor skills, concentration, coordination, sensory perceptions, feelings of pain and pleasure etc. Now, the chemical structure of THC is very similar to the endocannabinoid system in our brain. This ensures that THC can freely interact with the endocannabinoid system in human brains and alter the usual brain functions by stimulating the nervous system. It fires up the neurons which have numerous endocannabinoid or neurotransmitter receptors in them.
When you consume THC cannabis, the tetrahydrocannabinol gets into your brain and binds itself with certain cannabinoid receptors in our endocannabinoid or EC system. Studies have suggested that the chemical makeup of THC is particularly similar to anandamide – a neurotransmitter released by the EC system that controls our mood, appetite, memory and sleep. THC is found to have an extremely stimulating effect on the Cannabinoid 1 or CB1 receptors in the central nervous system as well as on the CB2 receptors of our immune system. Scientists claim that by attaching itself with CB1 and CB2 receptors, tetrahydrocannabinol increases the level of dopamine synthesis in our brain. In response to various natural stimuli, our brain releases dopamine that functions as a neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of pleasure, motivation as well as cognition. A high dopaminergic level thereforemeans increased focus andhigh motivations for work.
Benefits of neurological effects of THC cannabis
The effects that THC has on our brain’s endocannabinoid system have a range of therapeutic benefits. Many scientists and medical professionals claim that THC cannabis has great potential to alleviate a variety of health symptoms and mental conditions.
Good for brain’s reward system
By increasing dopamine synthesis, THC stimulates the reward system in our brain that makes us feel good, euphoric and ensures overall well-being. This makes it extremely useful in fighting depression.
Effective for managing epileptic seizures
According to a study published in the Journal of Pharmacological and Experimental Therapeutics, THC is highly effective in treating epileptic seizures by attaching with CB receptors that regulate relaxation and excitement.
Heal pains and inflammatory conditions
The effects of THC on our brains also make it very useful in treating certain inflammatory conditions including inflammatory bowel disorder. By making the intestinal cells to bond together tighter, THC helps to improve the gut function. The anti-inflammatory effect also makes extremely helpful in treating symptoms of arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Researches also claim that THC works on the receptors in our spinal cord to help us manage various kinds of chronic pains better.
Great for the immune system
Recent studies show that THC can strengthen the immune system to a great extent. There is promising evidence that THC and other cannabinoids can help patients suffering from autoimmune disorders or a weak immunity resulting from severe conditions like HIV or cancer.
Treats Alzheimer’s Disease
A lot of researchers have found that THC has the ability to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s. THC blocks the formation of a particular enzyme which makes the amyloid cells responsible for killing the healthy brain cells and causing AD.
However, the same brain-altering functions of THC can have certain negative effects on our physical as well as mental health due to unregulated long-term use. Various side-effects of THC include:
• Increased anxiety
The dopaminergic rush induced by THC can also cause intensified anxiety. By working on the amygdala, it can increase the sense of paranoia and induce panic attacks in some cases.
• Poor body balance and coordination
THC can affect the cerebellum and the basal ganglia areas of our brain that helps us to maintain balance, coordination and response time. It means that THC can make you quite clumsy or impact your abilities to walk, drive or talk smoothly.
• Impaired memories and poor cognitive skills
Studies have shown that long-term use of THC affects the hippocampus area of our brain and thereby reduces the ability to learn new information and form new memories.
All substances carry a risk of side-effects if used in an unregulated, uncontrolled manner. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is no different. THC cannabis can be highly beneficial for marijuana users if they use it wisely and, if possible, under proper guidance. Do some research and then buy the THC cannabis that is best suited for your needs!