Cannabis and Health

Cannabis use: perceptual, physical and psychological effects

What happens to the human body when you smoke cannabis?

In this article, we want to solve any doubts and curiosities related to the reactions that are triggered in the human body when consuming cannabis. We are not just talking about Cannabis Light (very low THC and high CBD), but about both of those cannabinoids (THC and CBD) in higher doses, such as that of the therapeutic or medical purposes.

The human body (including the brain) is disseminated of a series of receptors, which are activated in the presence of cannabinoids. More specifically, we are talking about the endocannabinoid system, which is the system involved in many physiological processes that mark our lives such as the perception of pain, mood swings, the stimulus of hunger and memory.

Practically speaking, cannabinoids are very similar to endocannabinoids (naturally produced by our body) and because of that, they interact with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system modifying sensations, perceptions and triggering specific mechanisms.

 What are the most common reactions you get with cannabis use? How do perceptions change thanks to cannabinoids? And do the physiological parameters of the body undergo mutations? If you are curious, as following there are a series of interesting facts about the physical and psychological effects of cannabis on the human body.

You may also be interested in:
CBD side effects, guidelines for responsible use

The perceptual effects of cannabis

Cannabis with a high THC content undeniably has a psychoactive effect that, depending on the type of product, the amount taken and the individual’s reactivity to it, produces an altered state of oneiroid-type consciousness (i.e. a state of consciousness in which the subject preserves temporal and spatial orientation, but with a more or less slight presence of sensory distortions).

In these moments, ideas flow uninhibited and there is a peak of creativity in the elaboration (the colours seem more vivid, the sounds more intense and so on). Sometimes ideas and elaborations are disconnected from each other and it is difficult to keep the attention on the same subject for a long time. There is often a rapid succession of non-interconnected thoughts, whose expression in words is slowed down instead: the mind wanders and a feeling of well-being is associated with a definite mental and physical relaxation. Also, sensations are perceived as more intense than normal.

These effects can start 10-20 minutes after consumption, reach their peak in about an hour and they last about two or three hours, then vanish without a trace.

 The physical manifestations of cannabis

After consuming cannabis, the body presents standard reactions of different degrees of severity depending on the individual predispositions. The most common manifestations are dry mouth and red eyes due to the increase of blood flow to the conjunctiva, as well as a visible increase in heart rate.

Other common manifestations linked to the sustained consumption of cannabis are a certain difficulty in communicating verbally, plus a decrease in motor skills control and eye movements.

Some people may feel a fainting sensation immediately after smoking: this mainly happens as cannabis influences blood pressure based on the subject’s posture: it rises if the person is sitting, and it goes down when the subject is standing. After the consumption of cannabis, a very common reaction is triggered, the so-called “chemical hunger“. This reaction seems to be caused by the release of Beta-Endorphin, a substance that stimulates appetite and arouses well-being, and it consists of a sudden hunger that gives an undeniable pleasure when satisfied.

The psychological effects of cannabis

Cannabis can give moments of bliss or sometimes trigger anxiety and paranoia. The reactions are very subjective, but most of the psychological effects that are induced by cannabinoids seem to be related to the mental state that accompanies us at the time of intake.

If you are in a quiet, comfortable place and you are well prepared to consume cannabis, it will be most likely to get a pleasant and relaxing effect. Instead, if you are experiencing a moment of particular anxiety or, for example, you are scared during the first experience with cannabis, then unpleasant episodes of panic, paranoia and anxiety may occur. Many people report a close correlation between the perception of increased heart rate and the triggering of an anxious reaction.

After cannabis use

About three hours after the introduction of cannabis in the body, the most important physical, perceptive and psychological effects disappear permanently and the only trace that remains in our body are the metabolites of cannabinoids. These waste substances will remain in circulation for a long time like several days or even weeks at times.

This type of metabolite is defined “inactive“, as its presence in the body does not imply that the person is under the effect of cannabinoids, but it only indicates that they have used it prior to the detection of the metabolites.

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