THC: What Is It and How Does It Affect Your Brain?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the main ingredients in marijuana. Along with CBD (cannabidiol), it’s known as one of the chief cannabinoids that affect the brain. The other prominent cannabinoid is CBN (cannabinol).
THC stimulates the cannabinoid receptors in your brain, and the psychoactive effects come from how your neurons interpret these signals. The THC reacts with a particular part of your brain called the basal ganglia to cause euphoria. THC also affects parts of your brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, body movement, coordination, and sensory and time perception.
The THC molecule is similar in shape to anandamide (a neurotransmitter found in your brain that regulates pain), which means it can bind with anandamide’s receptors and mimic its effects.
Anandamide is a messenger for CB1 receptors, and it helps regulate things like sleep, appetite, pleasure, and pain. THC gets between anandamide and CB1 receptors and blocks them from binding together.
The Effects of THC on the Brain
The cannabinoids in marijuana, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), bind to receptors throughout the brain and body. The prominent psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana is THC. When marijuana users smoke the drug, THC quickly passes from their lungs into the bloodstream, and the blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body.
THC binds to cannabinoid pathways in the brain, triggering a chain of biological events resulting in the “high” that marijuana users feel.
These receptors are ordinarily activated by chemicals similar to THC that naturally occur in the body (such as anandamide; see picture below). Scientists call these naturally occurring chemicals endocannabinoids (the prefix “endo” means “within”).
When THC activates these receptors, they produce a euphoric high. They can also cause other effects such as:
- mood changes
- altered sense of time
- memory loss
- impaired motor skills
- loss of coordination
What are the Side Effects of Consuming THC?
There are so many side effects of smoking marijuana that it’s tough to list them here. A few of the known side effects of smoking marijuana include:
- dry mouth
- increased appetite
- reduced blood pressure
- coughing or chronic bronchitis
- cognition problems (short-term)
- hallucinations (rare)
How to Recognize a Marijuana Overdose?
A marijuana overdose usually means that users have consumed more than their bodies handle. In most cases, this will only lead to temporary discomfort. However, when combined with other drugs or alcohol, the effects can be life-threatening.
When someone has overdosed on marijuana, they may experience:
- feeling sick
- increased heart rate
- low blood pressure
Using Cannabis Safely
Marijuana is safe consume on its own and although discomfort may come from becoming “too high” there is no danger of death from overdose. Many States have made cannabis use and production of hemp made materials legal. As a result, today many new forms of cannabis products are arriving on the market. Along with the flower forms of cannabis which are traditionally smoked, products like edibles, chocolates, gummies, and cannabis infused drinks are becoming more popular and readily available.
Visiting a cannabis dispensary near by and talking to a friendly budtender can be a good way to familiarize yourself with the many different types of cannabis products available with THC content. Cannabis products come in varieties like flower, concentrates, live resins, gummies, drinks, topicals and tinctures. Vibe by California cannabis dispensaries feature over 500+ types of cannabis products, all with varying degrees of THC content. Visit a Vibe cannabis dispensary online and see what type of cannabis products are nearby before you head out to buy!