Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a naturally-occurring compound, is the main chemical in marijuana that affects the brain.
THC primarily interacts with cannabinoid receptors, which are found in many parts of the brain. THC triggers the release of dopamine, which can cause a sense of happiness and euphoria, but larger doses can cause hallucinations and loss of motor control.
What are the side effects of marijuana?
Marijuana has been shown to treat Glaucoma, control epileptic seizures, slow the spread of cancer, decrease anxiety, and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Marijuana is an immunosuppressant, meaning that it can suppress the body’s natural immune reactions. Ammonia and hydrogen cyanide are found in marijuana smoke, which can be harmful to the respiratory system.
Marijuana, also known as Cannabis, is one of the most popular medicinal and recreational drugs available today. This ancient plant, indigenous to central Asia, has gained modern popularity among recreational drug users as well as doctors and medical researchers. Studies conducted in the early 2000s have demonstrated several beneficial properties of Cannabis that could be used in the development of future medicines. Currently, marijuana can be used to:
- Treat Glaucoma
- Control epileptic seizures
- Slow the spread of cancer
- Decrease anxiety
- Slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
Despite these beneficial effects, however, consuming Cannabis can also cause harm to the human body.
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The Effects of Marijuana on the Body
In most cases, marijuana is rolled up into a cylindrical shape, similar to a cigarette, which is known as a “joint.” After the user lights the joint, he/she inhales the smoke. The marijuana smoke comes into direct contact with the lungs, where it is transported into the blood stream. The effects of marijuana can be felt almost immediately after inhalation.
The two most harmful chemicals found in marijuana smoke are ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, which can have severe repercussions on the respiratory system. These chemicals cause irritation of the lungs, which triggers coughing and can cause increased production of phlegm. Ammonia and hydrogen cyanide consumption may also increase the chances of contracting various bacterial diseases and, in worst-case scenarios, lung cancer.
Within seconds of inhaling, the compounds in the marijuana smoke will reach the bloodstream, and the user’s heart rate may nearly double. This accelerated heart rate can be extremely dangerous for Cannabis users with a heart condition, as an increased heart rate means an increased chance of suffering a heart attack.
In the medical world, marijuana is known as an “immunosuppressant.” This term refers to the manner in which Cannabis suppresses the body’s natural immune mechanisms. A weakened immune system can lead to serious bacterial diseases, which can be exceptionally dangerous for users who are already dealing with an immune condition such as HIV.
Central Nervous System
Marijuana’s most significant component is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Once THC enters the bloodstream, it will spread throughout the entire body within seconds. When it reaches the brain, it interacts with cannabinoid receptors which are found all throughout the brain. One of THC’s most notable effects is its ability to trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, which gives a sense of happiness and euphoria.
Larger doses of THC, however, may lead to hallucinatory experiences. The continued intake of marijuana may lead to malfunctions in motor coordination and concentration, which can result in life-threatening situations such as car accidents. Recreational users of marijuana are strongly advised to stay off the roads while on the drug.
Other Miscellaneous Effects Marijuana Can Have on the Body
Cannabis has become very popular among young adults, but there can be dangerous long-term consequences of marijuana abuse. A young adult whose brain is not fully developed is more prone to permanently impaired cognitive ability and loss of memory, which can result from long-term marijuana abuse.
Young people are not the only ones who should be extra wary of the side effects of Cannabis. Pregnant women should also be aware that marijuana use may affect the development of their unborn child.