The main ingredient in marijuana is THC. This has psychoactive properties that result in you feeling high after using cannabis. Scientists first discovered what THC can do to users in the 1940s. However, more research is still being done on the compound.
THC and Your Brain
The reason that you feel high when you use THC is that your brain has a CB1 receptor that triggers intoxication. THC activates this receptor. Studies have found that when the CB1 receptor is blocked by another drug, or antagonist, the cannabis will not make them high. That means that this receptor is the main target when it comes to intoxication.
Other studies have shown that when a person is intoxicated with THC, there is more blood flowing to the brain’s prefrontal cortex. That part of the brain helps you with making decisions and having motor skills. When there is more blood flowing to these areas, these skills are affected. The degree depends on the user.
Your brain’s reward pathway is responsible for memory and feeling emotion. That helps you feel pleasant sensations. Activity in this area is what encourages you to repeat an activity that you enjoyed in the past. Research has found that when you use cannabis, you activate this reward section of your brain. That makes you feel good when you use it, and it makes it more likely that you will use cannabis again. When the THC binds to your brain’s CB1 receptors, you will then feel euphoric.
Other Impacts on the Brain
THC is just one of the reasons that marijuana affects your brain in the way that it does. The plant also contains cannabidiol (CBD). This is another abundant cannabinoid that you can find in the plant. While the substance is often known as being nonpsychoactive, this can be misleading. Any compound that directly affects your brain’s function is psychoactive, and CBD can do this.
Other Cannabinoids and Your ECS
While CBD is psychoactive, it cannot get you high. The reason is that CBD will not activate the CB1 receptor in your brain. It may even interfere with how your receptor works. This is especially true when you use THC and CBD together. If you take them both, you will most likely experience a more mellow high. You also will not be as likely to have paranoia when you use them together.
One study from February 2010 found that CBD and THC can have conflicting effects on the function of your brain. That may explain why CBD can mellow THC’s effects. However, there are some complexities to how the two may interact. Having both cannabinoids together can balance the effects. For example, one study found that CBD might prevent cognitive impairment that users who take too much THC may face.
Another series of studies looked at people who used cannabis heavily and examined the cognitive effects. The smokers who had used cannabis with more CBD in it were able to recall more than users who had not had as much CBD.
Another 2013 study seems to support these findings. The researchers gave THC to users. The ones who had CBD before getting THC did not have as much memory impairment. That was another indication that CBD might help prevent the cognitive issues related to THC.
How Cannabinoids Affect Your Body
CB1 receptors are not the only areas of your body that CBD and THC may affect. For example, CBD can affect at least a dozen different areas in your brain. CBD can balance out THC, but it can also affect the way that your body metabolizes THC.
That means that CBD does not always inhibit or balance out THC. In some cases, it might even enhance the effects. For example, if you are using THC to relieve pain, CBD may work with the THC. That is because it can activate the CB1 receptors in the area of your brain that controls pain.
The way that CBD and THC interact with each other is unclear. While some studies support the idea that THC can reduce memory impairment, other research suggests that CBD may enhance the psychoactive effects of THC. A study from February 2019 found that a high dose of CBD could reduce THC’s effects. But lower doses enhanced it.
Terpenes and the Entourage Effect
If you use CBD and THC together, you may experience something known as the entourage effect. This means that while one cannabinoid may have a certain effect by itself, its behaviour may change when other compounds are present. Different strains of cannabis may affect you differently because there are different levels of cannabinoids in them.
For example, a strain that is high in marijuana may be less intoxicating than ones with more THC. Even if you get CBD oils from the hemp plant, there may be very small amounts of THC in them. But at these levels, they will not intoxicate you.
When you use other cannabinoid molecules with CBD and THC, it may affect you even differently. Other cannabinoids can include CBG, CBN, and CBC. Because they can bind to your brain, they may be able to enhance, prolong, reduce, or otherwise change the way that THC gets you high. In addition, some of the side effects of cannabis might be related to the other cannabinoids instead of THC.
Terpenes are also important when it comes to determining how the entourage effect may work. These are phytochemicals in the plant, and they give your herb its aroma and flavour. The terpenes may also help the molecules produce their cerebral and physiological effects.
The cannabis plant is extremely complex, and more research is still needed on the way that it interacts with your body. However, it is thought that you get high from marijuana because of the way that THC interacts with your brain’s CB1 receptors. Researchers are still learning about how cannabis can interact with your body’s cannabinoid receptors. If you want to make the most out of your marijuana experience, you can take advantage of the entourage effect by using full-spectrum products.