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Dazed but not confused

 Wake and bake. Blaze it. 4:20. “Prende y pasa”

You know what I’m talking about; the one our mothers warned us about and our friends adore.

Marijuana is a very popular recreational drug, is widely known because of its ability to alter sensory perception and cause euphoria. Chances are that you have asked yourself- as universitaswhy does marijuana do that to your body?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the 483 known compounds in Cannabis and it’s the ingredient that makes this plant so peculiar. Our brain functions depend on the ability of neurons to transmit and respond to electrochemical signals. These interactions occur between neurotransmitters and  receptors – who are responsible for altering the electrical and chemical properties inside our head.

What happens when THC enters your brain?

The molecule binds proteins called cannabinoid receptors, where it almost fits perfectly. The binding of the THC to the receptor is analogous to when you ring a doorbell- someone on the other side of the door will respond. Similarly your cells will respond to the THC stimuli, once the molecule attaches to the receptor it will cause a change in your cells.

 

Drugs affect your body in different matters; their influence will depend on the quality, the quantity, tolerance and other similar matters. Marijuana effects are more commonly knows as that high feeling, which usually is the same for everyone.

 

Why do you get the munchies?

            A large concentration of  cannabinoid receptors lie in the hypothalamus, it’s the part of the brain that controls, important aspects about ourselves- such as hunger. In simple terms, by ingesting marijuana you will artificially stimulate hunger. 

That feeling of euphoria?

            Intense happiness is a way to describe that “high” feeling. Activating cannabinoid receptors result in changes in the levels of dopamine- also known as the pleasure neurotransmitter. 

Am I on slow motion?

            This stimulation of your brain cells- thanks to the THC- causes a disruption of the normal activity. These changes noticeably affect how neurons talk to each other in the prefrontal cortex  which is the part of the brain responsible for execution- so yes, you are moving in slow motion.

Why do I grow tolerant?

            Back to our doorbell analogy- if you ring it once, someone will answer but if your ring the doorbell numerous times, the owner will be tempted to take the doorbell away. That is similarly what happens in your cells.

The continuous use of THC will induce your cells to take away the receptors- in an attempt of maintaining its internal order. Eventually you will need to ingest more to get to the same effect.    

 

Keep in mind that our body is no simple subject- this is what a metabolism really looks like (photo below); all of these explanations were written as watered down as possible – jargon free. 

 

Sources: 

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/405947/revealing-how-marijuana-affe…

http://www.livescience.com/24558-marijuana-effects.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751/pdf/nihms38123.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2219532/

 

Olivieri is a Puerto Rican entrepreneur who craves knowledge and has a passion for writing. Currently trying to unravel the world's mysteries by majoring in physics.
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