How Cannabis Affects your Brain: Scientific Explanation
Cannabis, also called marijuana, is one of the most highly consumed drugs even though it is an illegal substance in many countries.
Aside from its possible therapeutic uses; doctors and other health experts continue to warn and make people aware of the harmful health effects of cannabis on brain. Because of its chronic consumption (which aggravates its damages) as well as from sporadic consumption, serious health problems can arise. And the effects of cannabis on brain cannot be neglected even when the consumption is not so frequent.
Although it is considered a not so harmless drug by many. Or its use is frivolous, taking importance away from the risks of its consumption on the brain and other body organs. There are some questions that we all should consider before consuming marijuana.
1. How does marijuana influence the brain?
Smoking cannabis can alter the structure and cerebral function. Numerous studies have demonstrated that its consumption has neurotoxic effects in the brain. These brain changes are mainly related to cognitive deficiencies and an increased risk of developing psychiatric problems, which are associated with chronic use of the drug.
Anyone who smokes cannabis will see the function of their brain cells altered. What is more variable among individuals is the magnitude of these changes and their connection with negative effects.
In addition, its consumption alters the sensorial perception, reduces the short term memory, attention and the motor abilities. The occasional use can produce anxiety and panic attacks, emphasizes Emilio Ambrosio, professor of Psychobiology of the National University of Education at Distance (UNED).
2. What happens when cannabis reaches the brain
When the cannabis stream reaches the brain, its active component, tetrahidrocarbocannabinol or THC, is united with neuronal proteins called receivers CB1. Like other drugs, cannabis stimulates the release of dopamine in specific areas of the brain, while THC stimulates the release of endogenous opioids, which is often associated with analgesic properties.
The increase of dopamine and the liberation of opioids are responsible for the gratifying and reinforcing effects of cannabis, details Walter Fratta, professor of Biomedical Sciences of the University of Cagliari, in Italy.
3. Does it cause addiction?
There is no doubt that the consumption of marijuana causes addiction. Chronic and strong consumption of cannabis leads to modifications in molecular elements of cerebral structures that are responsible for the state of addiction and the syndrome of abstinence when its use is interrupted, affirms Fratta.
In fact, in these chronic users, the sudden cessation of their intake produces symptoms similar to a withdrawal syndrome. Without being serious, this syndrome includes irritability, insomnia, anorexia, sweating and nausea,” Ambrosio adds.