Cannabis, popularly known as marijuana, has served a variety of purposes for thousands of years. While cannabis has a long history of recreational use, there has been increased interest in the potential medical uses of cannabis in recent years. Furthermore, with the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in a number of countries, there is growing concern about the potential health effects and risks associated with cannabis use. This article seeks to provide a complete review of the effects of cannabis on the human body, including short- and long-term effects, medical applications, and the safety and hazards connected with its usage.
The human body experiences complicated and multifaceted effects from cannabis. Cannabis works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates several physiological functions including pain sensation, mood, hunger, and immunological function. Cannabis has potential medical benefits, but its extended use can pose a number of risks. Understanding the potential effects of cannabis on the human body is critical, as is using it safely and within safe limits. In the parts that follow, we will look in depth at the effects of cannabis on the human body, its medical applications, and the safety and hazards involved with its usage.
How Cannabis Works in the Body
Cannabis is a complex plant with several active components such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are two of cannabis’ most well-known cannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body is a biological system that regulates several physiological processes such as pain, mood, appetite, and sleep. Endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes are the three primary components of the ECS. Endocannabinoids are substances produced by the body that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the body. Once endocannabinoids have served their purpose, enzymes degrade them.
When a person consumes cannabis, the plant’s active chemicals interact with the ECS. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, most notably the CB1 receptor, which is responsible for cannabis’s euphoric effects. THC mimics the actions of endocannabinoids in the body, resulting in pleasure, altered perception, and mood changes.
CBD, on the other hand, has a lower affinity for cannabinoid receptors and has no intoxicating properties. Instead, CBD interacts with other receptors in the body, such as the serotonin receptor, which is in charge of mood and anxiety regulation.
THC and CBD interactions with the ECS can also impact the amounts of numerous neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. These neurotransmitters play an important role in mood, motivation, and reward processing. THC can raise dopamine levels in the brain, resulting in feelings of pleasure and reward. CBD, on the other hand, has been shown to enhance serotonin levels, which may have antidepressant properties.
Short-Term Effects of Cannabis Use
Cannabis use can have a variety of short-term impacts on the body and psyche, some of which are favorable while others are unpleasant or undesired. The following are some of the most prevalent short-term effects of cannabis use:
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Bloodshot eyes
- Increased appetite
- Reduced blood pressure
- Coordination and balance problems
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Euphoria or happiness
- Relaxation or calmness
- Anxiety or paranoia
- Psychotic symptoms in some cases
- Impaired judgment or decision making
- Distorted perception of time, space, and reality
Impairment of cognitive function
- Impaired memory and learning
- Impaired attention and concentration
- Impaired reaction time and motor coordination
- Impaired perception and awareness
Dosing and its impact on effects
- The dosage and mode of intake of cannabis can have a substantial impact on its short-term effects.
- When compared to oral ingestion, smoking cannabis can result in a faster onset of effects.
- High THC doses can produce more intense euphoric effects while also increasing the likelihood of undesirable side effects.
It is critical to understand the short-term effects of cannabis before consuming it. This is especially important in situations where safety and performance are critical, such as driving or operating heavy machinery. Individual factors such as age, weight, and tolerance level can also have an effect on the short-term consequences of cannabis consumption. As a result, it is critical to consume cannabis carefully and within safe boundaries.
Long-Term Effects of Cannabis Use
While the effects of cannabis use are generally mild and temporary, long-term use can result in a variety of negative health effects, including:
- Cannabis use can cause respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis and lung damage.
- Many of the same harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke are found in cannabis smoke, including tar, carbon monoxide, and carcinogens.
- Cannabis use can cause cardiovascular problems such as an increase in heart rate, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Older persons and those with pre-existing cardiac disorders are at a larger risk of cardiovascular problems.
Mental health impact
- Cannabis usage over an extended period of time has been associated with an increased risk of mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.
- Cannabis use can aggravate pre-existing mental health issues and raise the likelihood of developing new ones.
Addiction and dependence
- Cannabis consumption can develop into addiction and dependency in certain people.
- Tolerance can develop as a result of chronic cannabis usage, which implies that the user takes greater dosages of cannabis to attain the desired benefits.
- When cannabis use is discontinued, withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, sleeplessness, and loss of appetite may develop.
It should be noted that the degree and possibility of these long-term effects can vary based on individual characteristics such as frequency and length of use, manner of ingestion, and individual health status. As a result, it is critical to recognize the risks of long-term cannabis usage and to consume it carefully and within acceptable limits. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or those taking medication should also consult with their doctor before using cannabis.
Safety and Risks Associated with Cannabis Use
Cannabis use can pose several risks to the individual’s health and safety, including:
Risks of acute cannabis intoxication
- Acute cannabis intoxication can impair coordination, judgment, and decision-making.
- Accidents, injuries, and falls can all be exacerbated by acute intoxication.
Risks of chronic cannabis use
- Chronic cannabis use can result in negative long-term health impacts such as respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems, mental health problems, and addiction.
- Chronic marijuana usage can also decrease memory, attention, and cognitive function.
Risks associated with specific populations
- Cannabis usage by pregnant women increases the risk of fetal development difficulties and complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
- Cannabis usage among adolescents can lead to poor brain development and an increased risk of mental health problems.
- Before using cannabis, anyone with a history of mental health concerns or those on medication should check with their healthcare professional.
It is critical to recognize the hazards of cannabis use and to use it properly and within safe limits. Individuals who experience negative effects or have pre-existing health conditions should also avoid or limit their cannabis use and seek medical advice before doing so. Finally, to avoid accidental ingestion, cannabis products should be stored in a secure location away from children and pets.
While cannabis has therapeutic benefits, it is critical to use it responsibly and within safe limits. Individuals who have negative effects or pre-existing health conditions should avoid or limit their cannabis use and seek medical advice before using it. Individuals can make informed decisions about cannabis use and reduce potential risks with proper education and awareness.