Research has helped prior stigmas come a long way for the actual effects of weed on the brain. Long known as a ‘drug’ that made its users forgetful, stupid, or lazy, science is now helping prove otherwise. Cannabis is a complex plant containing a variety of cannabinoids that lend to its wide range of health effects. Figuring each individual activation and reaction out is taking experts quite some time. But from what we’ve learned so far, there are more positive effects of weed on the brain than we ever imagined before. Here we’ll go in-depth on the topic of how marijuana affects the brain and the benefits that come from the interactions.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
It’s hard to believe there’s a physiological system that wasn’t discovered until the 1960’s, but the surprising fact is true for the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In fact, the body system wouldn’t have been discovered without marijuana research. When experts began exploring the way that cannabis affects the body, they quickly figured out there was a system in the brain they had been unaware of that was aiding the cannabinoids effects. This network of receptors that cannabinoids interacted with, was later named the ‘endocannabinoid system’ appropriately.
The body’s endocannabinoid system is vital for achieving and maintaining ‘homeostasis’. Or, the overall feeling of ‘well-being’ or optimal health. As an example, homeostasis keeps your body’s cells regulated to maintain ideal body temperatures or blood sugars to help you remain feeling ‘good’. To achieve this goal, your brain sends messages throughout the body to other systems. Using neurotransmitters, as chemical messengers that attach, bind and even inhibit other receptors for the desired effect to be felt.
It’s a good thing cannabis helped the ECS become apparent to experts considering its expansive role to help regulate a number of important functions. Since its discovery, research has shown that the system helps to regulate –
- Learning and memory
- Fertility and reproduction
- Motor control
- Cardiovascular system
- Skin & nerves
- Digestive system
Cannabinoids work in the same manner as endocannabinoids found naturally in your body. When entering your system through consuming or inhaling marijuana, cannabinoids get to work with the system, binding and attaching to other receptors for their exact effects to be offset. This is just the first way, weed has an effect on the brain. To learn more, let’s explore the exact actions of specific cannabinoids and how they interact with receptors in the brain.
How Cannabis Influences the Brain
As the control panel for your entire body, the brain obviously contains a number of receptors that are influential in how you function. The most important cannabinoid receptors to know in regards to cannabis, are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found more abundantly in the brain, while CB2 receptors are found more prevalently in the nervous system. Specifically, the body’s immune system.
When consumed, THC, CBD and other cannabinoids found in cannabis influence and interact with these receptors primarily. Two other endocannabinoids that are influential throughout the body for homeostasis, and that cannabis interact with are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG).
These compounds are specifically helpful for being protective against cardiovascular diseases, amongst other important roles. Like, 2-AG influencing cognition, energy, pain, and neuroinflammation. While AEA is often referred to as the body’s ‘natural THC’ and keeps pleasure and motivation in check. It also regulates appetite, mood changes, pain, and even fertility.
Now that you have a background on what big players are involved in weed’s effects on the brain…let’s simplify the scientific jargon. Here’s a quick breakdown of the main ways cannabis affects the brain system for positive effects.
A recent study conducted on mice, showed that cannabis improved the connections and metabolism of the area of the brain that is responsible for memory and learning. Of course, more research will have to go into cannabinoids’ exact influence on memory as a whole, and what specific dosages, or strains can do. Certain combinations can help PTSD sufferers block the retrieval of negative memories. Overall, improving the condition. Cannabis is also being explored for its aid to the old-age and memory ridden condition, Alzheimer’s. Another study on mice with Alzheimer’s showed that THC helped improve memory, while retaining brain cells, too.
We all know that cannabis can elevate your mood, but scientists are quickly finding the reasons why and how cannabinoids help to do so. CBD and THC are the most common cannabinoids that interact with the brain’s reward system. They both promote the production of serotonin, which is often termed as the ‘happy chemical’. This cannabis fuelled brain activity is quite helpful for mood disorders like depression, since low levels of serotonin are found to be a primary source of the condition.
Opioid addiction and alcoholism are two common conditions that do a severe amount of damage to the inner-workings of your brain, and body system. But, preclinical research is showing that cannabis and specifically CBD can help. Recently, the National Institute of Mental Health published a study that showed CBD reducing alcohol-related cell death in the brain by 60%. On the opioid side of things, multiple studies have concluded that CBD can effectively reduce and control cravings caused by addiction. Many believe this is due to cannabis’ effect on the dopamine and serotonin receptors, found in the brain.
Inflammation in the brain can cause a number of severe conditions. Like epilepsy, strokes and depression. Cannabis is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, meaning it can play a significant role in helping treat these conditions and others that can stem from an inflamed brain. The TRPV1 receptors found in your brain are also key players as they have been found to control inflammation and pain, overall. Many studies are showing that cannabinoids directly activate this receptor, improving its ability to function altogether.
Education is Key for Cannabis
Even though limited research is showing that adolescent use can negatively affect teenage brains and IQ’s…new studies are conversely showing the benefits that cannabis can provide for legal and adult-use of marijuana. Through its complex inner-workings cannabis has the ability to influence and promote natural endocannabinoids, and internal receptors in a positive way for a plethora of health benefits. As always, quality is key and the same goes for your cannabis use, too. Check out MMJDirect.co’s extensive collection of cannabis goods for the product that’s just right for your individual healing.