You smoke that last drag of your joint, finally receive a kick, and euphoria sets in. You are a pro at smoking weed, but have you ever wondered how it all works? How does marijuana get you high? More importantly, how does it seem to cure so many seemingly unrelated illnesses.
What makes you high?
Any stoner knows the prized chemical compound in marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). However, you probably do not know that it is considered a cannabinoid. Your body produces them naturally. But you give your body a boost when you consume marijuana.
In the 1960s, Raphael Mechoulam, affectionately nicknamed the grandfather of medical marijuana, began studying cannabis at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His study isolated THC and CBD as the major components in cannabis. He determined when we inhale THC, our body releases a naturally occurring compound called anandamide that acts as a natural pain reliever. Researchers worked for decades to identify the receptors responsible for the release of anandamide.
In researching the effect of cannabis on the system, scientists discovered the endocannabinoid (ECB) system. It is a physiological bodily system shared by all tetrapod vertebrates (amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals). The system helps regulate energy balance, transportation of nutrients, and metabolic processes. It also regulates your body by releasing the cannabinoids anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol.
What exactly do cannabinoid receptors do?
The ECB system includes receptors in our nerve tissue, lungs, liver, intestines, kidneys, lymphatic tissue, and the spleen. Essentially, it is all over our bodies. The system consists of two types of cannabinoids receptors, CB1 and CB2. These two receptors play a vital role in regulating our immune system by detecting cannabinoids and blocking various automatic responses. Within the neurological system, they control cognition, memory, anxiety, motor behavior, sensory, autonomic and neuroendocrine responses. In the digestive system, the receptors regulate glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, inflammatory effects, the vomiting reflex, nausea, and appetite.
In short, the ECB is responsible for the happiness the happiness we get after working out. They also tell us when we are full and should stop eating. It also releases the chemicals to create the euphoric high.
What the function of CB1 and CB2 Receptors?
Neurons in our body release enzymes to the rest of the body. Generally, neurons get their signals from presynaptic transmitters in the brain. However, when it comes to the cannabinoid receptors work backward. When cannabinoids (like THC) activate these receptors, they to block signals. In short, these receptors act as a controlling switch.
The CB1 receptors are largely located in our brains and are sparsely found throughout the body. This reactor is responsible for many of the psychoactive effects of endocannabinoids. Alternatively, the CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune cells of the body. When THC is inhaled, it reacts with these two receptors and controls the various aspects of our endocannabinoids system.
When a person smokes or eats a cannabis plant, the THC activates the CB1 in the brain to inhibit normal responses. This is why our movement slows down after smoking weed. The THC activates CB2 in the body to inhibit autoimmune responses. This is the reason why, after smoking a cannabis plant, the user undergoes a significant relief from pain, nausea or depression.
What would happen if this cannabinoid system is absent?
Anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol are the only naturally occurring cannabinoids in the body. The major function of the EBC system is to keep the growth of cells in check and regulate responses of the body. So, if cannabinoids are absent in an area of our body, then it may lead to an excess growth of cells in that area–cancer. In a way, cannabinoids are responsible for killing cancer. Likewise, a lack of natural cannabinoids may produce other various imbalances in the body including depression.
Pharmaceutical companies recently correlated the function of these receptors with an increased appetite. In response, they created drugs to simulate cannabinoids and in turn improve a patient’s desire to eat. However, the sides effects of these artificial hunger-inducing pills are equally concerning as the problem they treat. The side effects of these medicines include major depression, aggressiveness, anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. After the discovery of these side effects, companies discontinued the drugs.
Luckily, CB1 and CB2 receptors also respond to plant-based cannabinoids like THC from marijuana. That’s how medical marijuana works to treat so many ailments of the body and mind. It supplements the body’s natural cannabinoids.
So, why should we know what we are smoking?
When a smoker knows the percentage of compounds present in the weed (CBD THC), he or she can make better choices for his or her body.
Usually, the people who suffer from epilepsy may prefer a high-CBD and a low THC weed. However, you are looking for the euphoric high, then you want to smoke a cannabis plant which has a high THC and a low CBD ratio. The high amount of THC reacts with a part of your brain and thereby brings you the feeling of ecstasy.
Low doses of THC over time show that consumers develop a stronger resilience to diseases, a strengthened immune system, and a better balance of energy.
Why do we need to research more about it?
As of now, the research available says that cannabis is useful for treating various illness. So far, we know that cannabis is good for treating:
- chronic pain
- irritable bowel syndrome
- autoimmune disorders
and we know it may have adverse effects on:
- motor function
However, we know very little about dosing for each of these conditions. More study would help us better understand the various effects of a cannabis plant and the complete cannabinoids system which is present in our body. Since cannabis is illegal in many of the states, it is difficult for researchers to collect data and to identify the various traits of different marijuana plants. This study would help us to identify cures for multiple diseases that are known to us.