How Does Marijuana And THC Affect The Brain?

What Does Thc Do To The Brain

Marijuana use is common worldwide, and it's the most widely used drug, and many places have legalized it for medical and recreational use. It can have benefits for those with mental disorders and impact your brain function. Frequent cannabis use or heavy cannabis use can cause problems. However, there are some benefits to using cannabis regularly.

If you use cannabis, you may wonder what THC does to the brain. For some people, it may cause adverse side effects; for others, the effects of marijuana are very beneficial, especially for medical marijuana users.

At a Glance

  • Marijuana use can have varying impacts on brain health and brain development.
  • Medical marijuana and recreational marijuana use is increasing in the United States.
  • THC activates cannabinoid receptors that get you high and leave you feeling euphoric.
  • Marijuana can help alleviate pain, stimulate appetite, and improve sleep.
  • Marijuana use releases the "feel good" chemical dopamine.

Keep reading to learn more about cannabis and the risks and benefits it can have on brain health.

See Related: How Much CBD To Relax? A Guide To CBD Dosage

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What Does THC Do to the Brain?

Consuming cannabis can affect brain health. When you consume cannabis, the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) activates molecules called cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoid receptors such as CB1 and CB2 play a role in your brain's homeostasis and plasticity.

The activation of THC plays a role in alleviating chronic pain and improving your mood. It can also affect emotional regulation. Marijuana users may experience poorer cognitive performance, as THC may impact the way you think.

Some research suggests that heavy chronic cannabis users who begin smoking in adolescence might have altered development of the brain's structures, which can affect executive function. Other studies disagree and haven't found significant differences between marijuana users and nonusers.

How Does THC Work in the Brain?

marijuana in a bottle being poured into a hand

THC is the psychoactive substance in cannabis that gets you high. It binds to the cannabinoid receptors in your brain and provides many cannabis users with euphoric effects, such as improved mood and relaxation.

It can also provide calming effects that may help users deal with anxiety or pain. The therapeutic potential of cannabis use is significant enough that many places have legalized medical cannabis and marijuana for recreational use.

When THC activates cannabinoid receptors, it activates your brain's reward system. This part of the brain is responsible for responding to pleasurable behaviors.

Those hits of dopamine you get from marijuana use are activated in your brain's reward system. Dopamine is a "feel good" chemical that is activated when you use cannabis.

What Receptors Does THC Have in the Brain?

THC receptors in your brain are known as the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors on the cell's surface in the brain.

There are large amounts of CB1 receptors in your brain in specific regions and at low levels throughout your whole brain. CB2 receptors are less common in your brain. The CB2 receptors are found in a few neurons and immune cells.

CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system, and CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system.

Cannabis and Endocannabinoids

Marijuana is a psychoactive substance derived from the cannabis plant. Cannabis use can affect the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for body functions such as:

  • Reproduction
  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • Mood
  • Memory

Researchers in the early 1990s discovered the endocannabinoid system while they were studying THC. The endocannabinoid system comprises three parts: enzymes, endocannabinoids, and receptors.

The endocannabinoid system exists all throughout your brain and body. It still exists and affects many various bodily functions, even if you don't use cannabis.

Bonus: What Does CBD Feel Like?

What are the Psychological Effects of Marijuana?

The psychological effects of marijuana are varied, depending on how much marijuana you use and how frequently you consume it. THC has psychoactive characteristics that can make you feel euphoric when you use it. The euphoria is often what people refer to when they are high.

Cannabis use can have both negative and positive psychological effects and influence emotional behavior. For example, some people find that they are calm and less anxious after using marijuana. Others may report that the effects of cannabis may cause them to become more paranoid, and they may even experience psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations.

Some other psychological effects of cannabis include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Heightened sensory perception
  • Laughter
  • Altered perception of time

For some people, the effects of cannabis are pleasant, and for others, the experience may not be scary. People who use large amounts of marijuana may experience symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and a loss of personal identity.

What are the Positive Effects of Marijuana on the Brain?

Whether you're a medical cannabis user or use recreational marijuana, there are impacts on the brain that are helpful for people who consume marijuana. More research is beginning to show the positive effects of marijuana use, such as:

  • Improve cognitive function
  • Provide a sense of euphoria
  • Treatment of pain, insomnia, and other mental disorders
  • Stimulates the appetite
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Promote relaxation

The benefits of cannabis are different from those of other substances. Medical cannabis patients often see relief from many chronic conditions, and cannabis products may help alleviate chronic pain. Legalized recreational marijuana has become more common throughout the past few years and also provides a variety of benefits to cannabis users.

Research indicates that marijuana helps treat nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. Other effects of cannabis include reducing involuntary muscle contractions in individuals with multiple sclerosis.

What Does THC CBD Do to the Brain?

woman sitting on couch preparing weed joint

CBD and THC are both compounds that come from hemp plants. THC is psychoactive, while CBD doesn't produce psychoactive effects. CBD can affect your brain by altering its connectivity patterns and inducing alterations in brain activity.

CBD may help treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia due to the way it impacts the brain. It can also help alleviate anxiety. Products containing THC can increase paranoia, so they aren't often recommended for individuals living with schizophrenia. THC use may increase symptoms in those with schizophrenia.

You will feel relaxed and calm when using products containing THC and CBD, such as the Sleep and Soothe CBD Gummies or Delta 8 THC/CBG/CBD Organic Hemp Colas from Clean Remedies. These are high-quality organic products that can help improve relaxation and sleep.

Does Marijuana Increase Dopamine Levels in the Brain?

When you first use THC, it causes an increased amount of dopamine and increased neuron activity in the brain. Dopamine is the "feel good" chemical in your brain. It's a neurotransmitter linked to your brain's reward system and affects your mood, learning, and motivation.

Chronic users may experience a blunting of the dopamine system since long-term use can make it challenging to get the same reward from using marijuana. Animal studies differ from human studies in agreement about how long-term cannabis use affects dopamine.

Animal studies show that dopamine is released in particular regions of the brain. Human studies that study the long-term effects of cannabis on dopamine release are limited by the small cameras used in PET imaging. There are also differences in how long animal studies examine the impacts of THC when compared to humans.

What Happens When You Sleep High?

woman sleeping in her bed

If you use marijuana to get high, you may wonder what happens when you sleep high. Many medical and recreational users use marijuana to help them sleep. The way the cannabinoids bind to receptors in the brain helps promote better overall sleep quality.

According to The Sleep Foundation, when you use cannabis, the cannabinoids bind to receptors in your brain. The binding alerts your brain to produce adenosine, a chemical in your body's cells that helps promote sleep. Marijuana also suppresses your body's arousal system, making it easier to fall asleep, stay asleep, and have higher sleep quality.

Some people also use cannabis to help treat other conditions that may make it difficult to fall asleep, such as those with restless legs syndrome and PTSD, find that cannabis can help with these conditions.

The effects marijuana has on sleep may depend on the strain of marijuana you use. Indica strains are more likely to help increase sleep quality, while sativa strains often boost your energy.

Effects of Marijuana Use on Human Cognition

Marijuana use can have both positive and negative effects on human cognition. It can cause cognitive impairment that impacts your ability to think clearly. However, some research on the effects of cannabis found that in older adults, there was more connectivity between parts of the brain involving coordination and working memory than that of nonusers.

Recreational marijuana use is more common now than ever. While many think marijuana use is harmless, research indicates that heavy use can impair executive function and sometimes lead to cannabis use disorder.

Among those who are long-term cannabis users, memory, attention problems, and a decline in IQ are all potential cognitive impairments that can occur.

Cerebrovascular Risk Factors

If you have a heart condition or generally want to know about the health effects of marijuana use, there are some risks to consider. A study from the National Institutes of Health that uses data from approximately 435,000 adults found that smoking cannabis daily increases your risk of a stroke by 42% and your heart attack risk by 25%.

Additionally, more research found that there aren't any benefits of marijuana exposure to the heart. If you consume marijuana and have heart conditions, you may be at a higher risk for heart-related events such as stroke.

Marijuana use can also increase your blood pressure and heart rate directly after consumption. These symptoms are risk factors for vascular disease, stroke, and heart attacks. Research suggests that these risk factors are primarily seen in individuals who smoke marijuana rather than consume it in other ways.

Researchers find that the smoke from marijuana delivers similar substances as tobacco smoke, affecting the heart and lungs. The CDC notes that it's difficult to distinguish whether the effects of cannabis on cardiovascular health are due to chemicals from marijuana or other irritants caused by the smoke.

Cannabis Use, Misuse, and Dependence

a cannabis plant

If you use cannabis regularly, you may be susceptible to cannabis use disorder. Cannabis use disorder occurs when you are dependent on marijuana. You may not be able to stop using it despite the negative consequences.

One study estimates that about 10% of cannabis users are likely to develop cannabis use disorder. Other research suggests that about 3 in 10 people develop a marijuana addiction. The consequences of cannabis use disorder are often not as severe as addiction to other drugs.

If you use marijuana long-term, you may develop a tolerance to the drug, needing more of it to get high. There may also be legal implications of using marijuana where it isn't legal or without a medical card.

In a Nutshell

THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, can impact your brain health in multiple ways. works in the brain by binding to receptors, which can induce various effects, from paranoia to relaxation and improved mood. Many people also find that THC helps them sleep better, and it can help treat pain and insomnia.

If you think you can benefit from consuming THC, consider trying organic products such as Delta 9 THC Gummies or Delta 8 THC Tincture Oil from Clean Remedies. It could be just the relaxation you need after a long day or a stressful period! All Clean Remedies products are legal in most U.S. States and are USDA-certified organic.

Keep Reading: Cannabis Terpenes: What They Are & How They Work?


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