Whether you are a regular cannabis user or you are new to it I’m sure we’ve all wondered the same thing. What exactly is THC doing to my brain? Thankfully the Internet is filled with answers (including false ones) so it looks like you came to the right place. If there’s one thing we at Captain Vape love more than marijuana- it’s facts.
If you listen to the 1930’s film Refer Madness or right wing religious political groups that hate democracy, THC converts your brain into that of a serial rapist and/or murderer. The science behind these theories is the same science that claims you can cure Covid-19 by injecting bleach in your arm.
The fact is, tetrahydrocannabinol does affect your brain but it will not turn you into the next Jeffery Dahmer. Be sure to check out our previous post on negative marijuana myths for more fun lies from the MAN.
THC affects the CB1 cannabinoid receptor which is responsible for appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.
Let’s take a look at what that means for the symptoms of your brain affected by tetrahydrocannabinol also known as being high as f*ck.
A common side effect from being intoxicated by THC is getting the munchies. As someone who likes to partake in a vaping session on a daily basis I can attest to this phenomena. One time I got the munchies so bad I downed an entire bag of marshmallows the night before a camping trip. And I ate the chocolate. And the graham crackers.
So what the heck was going on in my brain? According to the US National Library of Medicine THC can stimulate the stomach to release a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach and when that happens you feel hungry.
Now the question is can this be a positive for negative side effect?
Obviously someone struggling with weight issues will have a harder time controlling themselves if their stomach is pumping ghrelin because of all the bong hits. Dealing with that is a topic for another day.
How about people who struggle with appetite? According to the Canadian Cancer Society a loss of appetite and severe weight loss while under going cancer treatments can hinder positive results. Medicinal cannabis can be prescribed to fight the effects of chemotherapy. Besides appetite it can also help deal with nausea and reduce vomiting.
“Paranoia, paranoia everybody is coming to get me! Just say you’ve never met me”. – Harvey Danger
We’ve all been there. We’ve all taken one too many tokes and started wondering when they’ll come for you. When that thing will happen to you. When that person will betray you. Bad, depressing and dark thoughts consume you when all you wanted to do was smoke a joint and watch some Dragon Ball Z.
I hate feeling paranoid. Personally it happened to me a lot and I had to do a little research and find a strain that worked for me. Why was this happening? Can science answer why I’m convinced the g’uvment is going to come for me then forty five minutes later I no longer have any paranoid thoughts?
THC affects different parts of the brain and the part that is responsible for anxiety and paranoia is called the amygdala.
So how does THC “affect” the amygdala? For those with low tolerance THC can over-excite the amygdala which can lead to those nasty thoughts that can hurt your buzz. So why would anyone try cannabis for anti-anxiety purposes if it can over-stimulate the brain’s receptors responsible for…anxiety?
Lets look at PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) as an example. Receptors in the brain are comprised of endocannabinoids which regulate cannabinoid receptors. There are two cannabinoid receptors identified as CB1 and CB2. THC affects the CB1 receptor which is responsible for memory, mood and anxiety. Endocannabinoids regulate processes within these receptors. Studies of shown that people with PTSD have lower endocannabinoids which causes an irregularity in the CB1 receptor. Using cannabis as a treatment replenishes the endocannabinoids required for regular processes. That is how THC can be used as an anti-anxiety treatment.
The best way to deal with paranoia is to find a strain with a lower THC percentage. Marijuana affects people differently so there is no shame in using a weaker strain. I’ve concluded that I am very sensitive to THC so a percentage of 20% would more than likely provoke a panic attack. I’ve switched to a strain of 12% and it’s been wonderful.
Short Term Memory
This section reminds me of a funny story. My buddy was over at my place and we decided to get high before watching the game. My buddy asks me if we should get a pizza and I was all like “ya sure man”. Then right before I open the app on my phone…or was it right after? Which one of my friends was over that night? Wait- what happened after I opened the app? Did we even get a pizza? Did anyone even come over? Who won the game? Why am I asking you? Oh no I’m on the bus without pants again.
The above story is exaggerated and one could argue that would be an example of long term memory loss. But I don’t have time to defend a made up anecdote. I want to cover what or if THC affects the memory.
There’s a recurring theme here if you’ve been paying attention. That theme is marijuana is just as harmful has meth and heroine. Just kidding. I wanted to make sure you were still paying attention in case you forgot you were reading an article about THC and memory loss.
The recurring theme is THC affects the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the body. This receptor is found mostly in the brain but can also be found in the spinal column, lungs, liver and kidneys. The CB1 receptor is responsible for appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.
Now that we know that THC affects these receptors we know that it can affect everything that receptor regulates including memory. According to a 2013 study it was concluded that strains with a higher THC percentage and lower CBD percentage contributed to a higher rate of memory impairment. So the more potent the strain the more likely your CB1 receptor would be affected which includes memory.
The long term affects are still not conclusive by that study. While it does note those who are heavy users of cannabis can develop a tolerance to memory loss, long-term users may have memory impairment especially if they started at a young age. It also concludes that since THC targets that receptor responsible for memory that further studies can hopefully find a therapeutic use for people with dementia or schizophrenia. In short, a synthetic that extracts the best parts of THC without the negative side effects.
We’re no medical journal but we don’t have to be to practice common sense. While it’s fascinating to research and read up on what THC does to the human brain the most important factor to consider is what is it doing to your brain?
Your body talks to you so be sure to listen. While crazy paranoid thoughts are always temporary and that panic attack will wear off, think about what your brain is telling you. A strain with a high THC percentage is for people with a high tolerance. That doesn’t mean it’s just for people who have been hitting the bong since adolescence. Everyone’s biology and genetic make-up is different. If 12% THC is too much for you then try 10 or 9% or just don’t use cannabis anymore.
Cannabis is finally legal and I personally believe it can help more people than it harms. Lets keep it that way by staying educated and using it responsibly.