Dopamine is a common medical term that goes hand in hand with substances commonly referred to as ‘drugs’. As medical marijuana makes its way out of the illegal sector, and enters the health and wellness arena, it’s put a highlight on the connection of the two compounds.
Dopamine, like cannabis, is associated with ‘feeling good’, but cannabinoids and the neurotransmitter have a unique relationship internally that makes things a little more complicated. So here we’re exploring how the two connect to amplify those good feels, you feel when consuming medical marijuana.
What is Dopamine?
Our brain is chock-full of neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating and monitoring normal body functions. Dopamine, being one of those neurotransmitters. Specifically, dopamine plays a huge role in the brain’s system of rewards. In fact, the neurotransmitter responds directly to ‘pleasurable’ stimuli. Not to mention, the compound is naturally released when we do things that make us feel good – like eating, sleeping, or having sex.
The compound goes into action even before the act of enjoyment even occurs. Meaning, dopamine is slowly released to regulate emotion and mood when anticipation is triggered. Like, being sexually aroused, or your mouth-watering for a bite of dessert.
Many drugs, prescribed or black-market, target dopamine for releasing these feelings of happiness. So, it should be no surprise that cannabis is another compound that interacts with the happy-feeling chemical,
On the flip side however, the way dopamine acts is often to blame for addictions or addictive types of behaviour. Here’s an example. When low levels of dopamine are released while your dessert is baking, in anticipation for the ‘reward’, you internally feel excited for what you’re about to enjoy.
So, when you actually take a bite, your dopamine levels ‘reward’ you with higher levels of the compound. Meaning, you feel satisfied in achieving your goal. Now, replace that dessert with any illicit drug…and you can get the idea.
Outside its emotional effects, dopamine also plays a role in other body functions. Including –
- Blood circulation
- Kidney functions
- Cardiovascular functions
- Response to stress
- Pain regulation
- Insulin regulation
How Does Medical Marijuana Affect Dopamine?
Conversely, medical marijuana interacts and influences neurotransmitters in the brain, too. So, it’s only natural that it affects dopamine in some way. But, cannabinoids interact internally, and directly with other cannabinoids or endocannabinoids, which dopamine does not contain.
Even though cannabis, THC, and other cannabinoids don’t directly influence dopamine, they do interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Specifically, receptors CB1 and CB2. It’s this interaction specifically, that allows cannabinoids from cannabis to have an affect on dopamine indirectly.
The relationship is a bit more complex, as science uncovers more about the inner-workings of cannabinoids. From what they’ve discovered so far, the influence of cannabis on dopamine has to do mostly with GABA neurons.
GABA neurons naturally inhibit dopamine in brain pathways, and also contain cannabinoids so cannabis can directly affect them, and do – by inhibiting them. Put that altogether, and this is the conclusion science has come to – by cannabis inhibiting GABA neurons, which inhibits dopamine, it indirectly can raise the levels of dopamine, overall.
What Are the Effects of the Connection?
There are two classifications of effects from cannabis and dopamine, that the research community is exploring. Short-term effects of medical marijuana and dopamine, and long-term effects on the reward system as a whole.
On a small scale, when consuming medical marijuana infrequently, you’ll feel a rush of euphoric goods feels from the interaction. On a more long-term scale, science is seeing that medical marijuana may have a negative effect, lessening the production of natural dopamine overall.
Meaning, the more and more you consume cannabinoids to increase levels of dopamine, over time, the less your body thinks it has to make. An author of this study concluded that, “The available evidence indicates that THC exposure produces complex, diverse and potentially long-term effects on the dopamine system.
These include increased nerve firing and dopamine release in response to acute THC, and dopaminergic blunting associated with long-term use.” This connection is one reason why some in the medical community are researching long-term effects of marijuana on mental health issues, too.
In the meantime, low levels of dopamine are also associated with a number of common conditions, many that have little to no treatment options. Beyond prescribed medications that come with a plethora of negative side effects themselves.
This could be why many patients with dopamine related conditions are turning to medical marijuana for a more natural source healing. Plus, why many experts are exploring the positive effects of dopamine and medical marijuana as treatment or relief regardless of long-term consequences.
Conditions that can arise or worsen due to non-ideal levels of dopamine include:
- Mood disorders
- Sleep disorders or fatigue
- Lack of motivation
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
More to Learn on Dopamine & Weed
Like many topics in relation to medical marijuana, it’ll take more time to determine just how exactly the natural plant compounds work internally. Since legalization is still fairly new, the research we do have is somewhat inconclusive on actual effects, long-term or short-term.
From what we do know, is dopamine and medical marijuana have a way of working internally to produce good feels. Which is having a positive effect on many health conditions, through real-time use of cannabis.
If you or someone you love suffer from a dopamine-related disorder, and are seeking to safely self-medicate with a more natural source of healing – than top-quality, medical marijuana could be the answer. Check out MMJDirect’s extensive collection of top-shelf cannabis goods to begin, today.