There is a great conflict concerning marijuana in the minds of many people. It is an acknowledged fact that the plant has many health benefits and that it has many side effects. There is an understandable urgency to understand what adverse effects medical marijuana can have on a patient both in the long term and in the short term. Weed has different types of cannabinoids, the primary of which are THC and CBD. The cannabinoids can have both psychological and physical effects on the body at their usage. So, is weed bad for you? Read on to find out.
How Marijuana Affects Physical Health
How does marijuana affect the body? Once it is absorbed into the body, weed connects with the endocannabinoid system. Although only recently discovered, research has confirmed the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is probably the most widely distributed organ system in human bodies and the bodies of all other vertebrates.
ECS’ extensive distribution means the after-effects of weed are felt in virtually all organs of the body. The following are some specific cannabis Sativa side effects on the body.
Marijuana raises the user’s heart rate. An increased heart rate puts the user in greater danger of a heart attack. The possibility of a heart attack is even higher if the user is old or they have a preexisting heart condition.
Like all smoke, marijuana smoke irritates the user’s lungs. As a result, weed smokers experience breathing problems, coughing, and the production of phlegm.
This statement begs the question, why do people smoke weed? Besides recreation, marijuana smoke may act as a bronchodilator, opening up constricted airways during asthma attacks.
Safety is therefore found in moderation. The severity of these respiratory challenges is determined by the frequency with which the person uses marijuana. Daily users suffer more severe side effects; they may cough continuously or get popcorn lung. These are side effects of smoking weed, they are not THC oil side effects, and you may not experience them when you take your marijuana any other way. Research has confirmed that long term use of cannabis makes the user more susceptible to bronchitis and other lung infections.
Nausea and Vomiting
After using marijuana regularly for a while, the user starts experiencing severe bouts of nausea that is sometimes accompanied by vomiting. This nausea and vomiting come in regular cycles, and its severity is such that the victim may need medical attention to manage them. The condition that causes these symptoms is referred to as the Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.
Child Development Challenges
When used sparingly, marijuana may reduce nausea in the short term. Some women experience nausea during pregnancy, and if a pregnant woman finds a marijuana clinic attendant who is not well informed, they might prescribe marijuana to alleviate it.
Using marijuana during pregnancy is a bad idea because it causes low birth weight, and recent research also shows a higher risk of preterm births.
Another harmful effect of weed is an increased possibility for poor brain development in children when mothers smoke during pregnancy. The potential for behavioral problems in children is also heightened when mothers use marijuana during pregnancy. Other consequences of marijuana exposure in the womb include attention deficit, poor memory, and reduced ability to make decisions when compared to other children.
Research has also found that a considerable amount of THC finds its way to breast milk if a lactating mother smokes weed. Contaminated breast milk is also one of THC pills’ side effects. When THC gets into the milk, it affects the nursing baby’s brain. The results of weed on a developing brain are much more severe than in a fully developed brain, and a child nursed by marijuana using mother is likely to have serious mental challenges later in life.
Loss of Balance
Marijuana effects on the brain affect the part of the brain that keep the body balanced. These include the basal ganglia and the cerebellum. Besides balance, the two sections of the brain also control the body’s reaction time and even a person’s posture. Long-time use of marijuana, therefore, causes the user to lose balance and to sit and stand at abnormal positions. Long-time marijuana users also have a slower reaction time when compared to a person who doesn’t use it.
How Marijuana Affects Psychological Health
The best-known dangers of marijuana are psychological. These cannabis side effects manifest as a result of THC effects on the brain. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid, and it is the one that gives you the ‘high’ after smoking grass.
Hallucinations refer to a wide range of symptoms that point towards a state of altered reality. When a person takes cannabis, they may experience a distortion of their perception of time, color, sound, or smell. Sounds smells and colors may appear sharper or more exaggerated than usual.
When hallucinations become more advanced, the user may see, hear, smell, or otherwise perceive things that are not there. With continued use of high THC content, marijuana causes users to develop paranoia and panic attacks. These feelings may affect a person’s life so severely that they completely isolate themselves from other people.
In the short term, weed leads to an increase of dopamine in the brain. Increased dopamine levels leave the user feeling good and relaxed. Marijuana achieves this by inhibiting the GABA inhibitor in the brain. This inhibitor has the responsibility of ensuring that the release of dopamine is regulated. It’s being inhibited means that the level of dopamine is extraordinarily high in the brain.
Long term use of weed causes the user to develop different symptoms. As observed above, marijuana inhibits the inhibitor that controls the release of dopamine.
Continued release of dopamine causes the part of the hypothalamus that releases it never to rest and regenerate. As a result, this part of the brain becomes too flayed to release dopamine effectively.
Ultimately, dopamine levels in the striatum decrease leading to social withdrawal, lack of attention, and inability to control impulses.
Short-term Effects of Marijuana
Short term effects of marijuana can be vastly different from the long term side effects of pot. In some instances, these effects are the diametrical opposite of each other. The results discussed above are both long term and short term.
Concerning the short term effects of cannabis, they come when cannabinoids connect with the receptors in the endocannabinoid system. How fast these effects manifest depends on how quickly the cannabinoids are absorbed into the body and how soon they are absorbed depends on the intake method.
Smoking usually results in faster absorption of cannabinoids than swallowing. Among the first short term effects of weed is dryness of the mouth. Cannabinoids connect to receptors found on the sublingual salivary glands, which are responsible for the production of about 80% of all saliva. Once they connect with the salivary glands, cannabinoids inhibit the production of saliva, thus causing dryness of mouth, a condition that is also referred to as cottonmouth.
The condition later decreases after a while. Cottonmouth is one of the cannabinoid side effects that cuts across the board. It affects a marijuana user if they use medicinal products such as CBD oils, CBD capsules, and gummies as well as if they use high THC content weed for recreation or other purposes.
Other short term effects include feelings of euphoria, drowsiness, and sometimes reduction of the ability to feel pain.
Long-term Effects of Marijuana
Long term effects of weed are on both the physical and the mental health of the user. Long term psychological effects are particularly severe for teenagers. When teenagers use pot, their growing brains suffer from impairments on cognitive abilities. Teens who use marijuana are also more likely to get schizophrenia in the long term. Research has also shown that they are likely to suffer a reduction of IQ points later in life, even if they stop using weed.
Marijuana causes the reduction of essential neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for socializing among other things. When the prefrontal cortex is affected by weed, users are likely to withdraw from all types of social interactions. Long term effects of weed usually manifest in people who smoke marijuana every day over a long period.
In the recent past, many marijuana facts have come to light. This increase of information is due to more research that is being conducted on marijuana as it continues to gain acceptance across the board for its therapeutic effects. Although this is the case, a lot more research is still needed to understand weed better.
From what we know, THC can have adverse effects on the user in the long run. Weed needs to be used carefully, and the best way to use it is by ensuring you have an understanding of all possible side effects.
Smoking is the fastest way to get marijuana’s active ingredients into the body, but it is also the riskiest intake method. Use CBD oils, gummies, and capsules which you don’t have to smoke and avoid high THC strains of marijuana unless you have a condition that can only be helped by THC. This way, you get to reap more marijuana benefits while avoiding many of the side effects that come with marijuana usage.