This is part of a project I did for my science class on Marijuana and why you experience every effect that you do when you smoke those sweet buds Check this out, it may answer some questions about everything from medicinal marijuana to just plain regular use. Specific medicinal uses can be found by scrolling down near the bottom. THC Almost all of the effects that are received from smoking Marijuana are due to the chemical compounds interacting with the brain. THC (Delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol - C21H30O2) is the main active chemical in Marijuana and is the chemical that affects you the most. Delta 9-THC is a cannabinoid, along with 60 other chemicals out of the 400 found in Marijuana. Cannabinoids are molecules that bind with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, triggering different effects. When smoke is inhaled it travels into the lungs where it is initially metabolized, and then goes into the bloodstream. From here it is transported to different organs of the body including the brain, liver, and the heart. Other Chemicals The remaining chemicals in marijuana are not studied nearly as much as THC because of their low effect on the body. Many of these are found in other natural sources or artificial products. There are however certain chemicals that are in marijuana that are not good or bad. These have no effect on the body and purely reflect the fragrance or appearance. Many people think that every chemical in Marijuana has a negative or harmful impact on your body, but in reality many of them are either helpful or just harmless. So although there are 400 chemicals a large percentage of them have little to no effect, and sometimes are even beneficial to the body. A few miscellaneous chemicals are listed below, ranging from the good to the bad. Chemical Molecule Description Choline C5H15NO2 A molecule which is categorized in the Vitamin B group and also found in meats and eggs Eugenol C10H12O2 An aromatic liquid which is also found in clove oil and is sometimes used in perfume Guaiacol C7H8O2 Molecule also found in local anesthetic and antiseptics Piperidine C5H10NH Liquid used to make rubber and certain glues such as epoxy Entering the Brain The Blood - Brain Barrier is the shield that is formed by the walls from blood vessels. In order for any molecule to enter the brain, it must first pass through this protective layer. The purpose of this barrier is to protect the brain from harmful toxins that may be traveling through the blood stream. To a certain extent, this barrier can not determine good molecules from bad. It works as efficiently as possible but sometimes it is unsuccessful at letting every good molecule through. The main molecules that can pass through the Blood-Brain Barrier are oxygen and some small specific nutrient molecules. Unfortunately, some helpful substances are blocked by this barrier also, such as certain antibiotics and some medicines used for the treatment of cancer. THC, including all of its metabolites that were formed from the metabolism in the liver and lungs, are able to pass through this barrier easily. This happens because THC is lipophilic (fat soluble) which allows it to be absorbed right through the protective barrier. This also causes traces of THC to remain in different fatty-tissues in the body for extended periods of time. Inside of the Brain Once the THC passes from the blood stream and into the brain, it starts to take effect. There are receptors inside of the brain called cannabinoid receptors. These are located on the membranes of nerve cells in different parts of the brain. The cannabinoid receptors are naturally activated by anandamide, which is a neurotransmitter that the body can produce. Because THC is a cannabinoid, the molecule mimics anandamide and binds with the receptors. This then activates the nerve cells that the receptors are located on and results in the change of the cells activity and the release of dopamine. The release of dopamine is part of the reason for the feeling of euphoria that is experience when someone smokes marijuana. Parts of the Brain with Large Amounts of Highly Concentrated Cannabinoid Receptors Cerebellum Cerebellum - The cerebellum is responsible for body movement and coordination. When the Cannabinoid receptors in this area of the brain are activated you experience impaired coordination which in turn makes it difficult to walk and move. The Cerebellum is also necessary for the force, timing, and steadiness of your movements. When this is thrown off it is difficult to keep your balance. Hippocampus The Hippocampus is the section of the brain responsible for learning and memory, taking in information and allowing your mind to retain it. Basically, the Hippocampus must turn your current thoughts, ideas, and things you are hearing that are in your short term memory into your long term memory. When this portion of your brain can't function there is a handicap in your ability to retain information, causing an impaired memory and a decrease in the ability to learn new things. Cerebral Cortex Cerebral cortex - Controls higher cognitive functions including problem solving, decision making, learning, time perception, language, and attention. This is the reason that many people experience a decrease in their ability to perceive time and solve problems. Nucleus Accumbens Nucleus accumbens - This part of the brain is responsible for the reward system. This is a system that is responsible for a person repeating an action to receive a positive reward or response. When this system can't function it leads to people having a lack of motivation. The lack of motivation is due to the fact that it is more difficult to recognize the reward in different actions. For example: When the Nucleus Accumbens can function correctly it allows a person to recognize the positive and negative rewards from their actions. Late at night on a school night, a person might realize that they have to do their homework so that they don't fail the assignment. When the reward system can not function, the connection between doing your homework and actually receiving a failing grade in your class in not made. This is turn can cause a person to neglect the assignment. While some people may argue that this is due to the fact that they would rather get high than do their homework anyways, other people argue that it is simply your brain not being able to comprehend the fact that you have to complete the assignment. Realistically, it is most likely a combination of both of those. Basal Ganglia Basal ganglia - The section of the brain that allows you to focus your attention. THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in this section of the brain making it difficult to concentrate or focus on a single topic for an extended period of time. This makes it difficult to complete certain tasks that require an extended attention span. Brain regions in which cannabinoid receptors are moderately concentrated Hypothalamus Hypothalamus - Body Regulation and Functions. When these receptors are activated, the Hypothalamus is not able to function as well, affecting your bodies ability to regulate certain traits. This regulation includes the body temperature, reproduction functions, and the regulation between the salt and water balance. This is the reason that some people experience "cotton mouth". The Hypothalamus is also responsible for thirst, hunger, levels of pleasure and pain, and aggression. The feeling of being relaxed or calm is due to the nerve cells responsible for anger in the hypothalamus being affected. The Hypothalamus also senses the Leptin released from your stomach and reacts accordingly. Leptin is the protein that is released when your body senses you are over eating. The hypothalamus then takes this information and decreases your appetite. When this function can not be performed it causes people to get the "munchies". This can cause a person to eat too much without realizing that they are full and may result in nausea or regurgitation. The Hypothalamus is also responsible for maintaining the effects of the sympathetic nervous system. Because this system is responsible for many regulations in your body, when it can't function as well certain effects are experienced that are the opposite of its normal purposes. The sympathetic nervous system is used to regulate the heart rate, constrict the pupils, produce a constant amount of digestive acids, and dilate the blood vessels. When THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the Hypothalamus, the Sympathetic System has difficulty doing this and in return you receive effects that were not intended to occur by this system including increased heart rate, dilated pupils, constricted blood vessels, which in turn causes increased blood pressure, and a decrease in the digestive secretions. Amygdala Amygdala - This part of the brain is responsible for your emotional responses located on the Hypothalamus. This includes fear, sexual responses, aggression, ect. Because the Amygdala is responsible for the emotions, when it can not function as well there are a multitude of different responses that can occur. Most of these effects depend on the person, their mental state, their mood, fears, actions, and much more. Because of this some people can experience a sense of paranoia, which normally only lasts for a short period of time, where as other people may find that their fears drift away. The majority of people find that they are also in a more calm and relaxed state because the portion of the Amygdala responsible for aggression is affected. There is also a sense of indifference that is experienced because the response to stimuli is lessoned. Spinal Cord Spinal Cord - The Spinal Cord is responsible for many peripheral sensations. This includes sight, touch, sounds, pain, and more. This is the reason that many people experience a sense of appreciation for colors and sounds. Also, when the Spinal Cord is affected, there is a decrease in pains and aches. This is very beneficial to people that have illnesses that cause pain, cramps, joint pains and inflammation. Many people experience an increase in the sense of touch because of the Spinal Cord. Physical sensations are often more extreme and normal contact can feel electrifying depending on the person. Brain Stem The brain stem sends information to the Hypothalamus about the temperature of your skin. When these messages are not acted upon, there can be a change in body temperature. The Brain Stem is also responsible for sleep, making many people become extremely exhausted and drowsy. Central Gray Central gray - The Central Gray is commonly viewed as the "survival" portion of the brain. This is because it is used to activate the autonomic nervous system which increases the heart rate and pumps both adrenaline and endorphins into the body. When the Central Gray is altered in the way that it works, there is a release of the adrenaline and endorphins that are normally only used in an extreme case when your body feels you need more energy and pain killers. The endorphins are the bodies natural pain killers, and this is the reason why many people experience a pain relief while smoking Marijuana. Nucleus of the Solitary Tract The nucleus of the solitary tract is used to regulate nausea and vomiting. Nausea is used as the bodies way of warning you that there is something bad in the stomach and vomiting is the bodies attempt to rid itself of whatever is bothering it. Unfortunately, nausea and vomiting are common side effects for many diseases and disease treatments, making it difficult to eat and keep the food in the stomach. When THC affects the Nucleus of the Solitary Track, it decreases the bodies ability to make you nauseous, making many people have a relief from nausea. Quick List for those of you who didn't feel like reading the specifics Physical Effect Experienced ---- Brain Section(s) Affected Impaired Coordination ---- Cerebellum Impaired Concentration and Listening Effectively ---- Basal ganglia Cotton / Dry Mouth ---- Hypothalamus Increased Appetite and Thirst ---- Hypothalamus Impaired Time Perception ---- Cerebral cortex Sense of Euphoria ---- Release of Dopamine Muscle Relaxation ---- Hypothalamus Impaired Short Term Memory ---- Hippocampus Increased Heart Rate ---- Hypothalamus Blood-shot Eyes ---- Dilated Blood Vessels in the Eyes Dilated Pupils ---- Hypothalamus Impaired Comprehension ---- Basal ganglia Giddiness ---- N/A Difficulty Speaking ---- Cerebral cortex Enhancement in Other Drugs (Including Ecstasy, Alcohol, Cocaine, Tobacco, and Heroine) Increase in Appreciation for Colors, Sounds, and Physical Sensations ---- Spinal Cord Temporary Decrease in Stress ---- Dopamine Pain Relief (Eye Pains, Headaches, Cramps, and Pains Caused by Certain Illnesses) ---- Spinal Cord & Central Gray Increase in Coughs ---- Due to Smoke Being Inhailed Lower Blood Pressure while standing. Higher blood pressure while sitting (This can lead to head rush). ---- Hypothalamus Tiredness / Drowsiness (Good For Patients Suffering from Insomnia and Sleep Deprivation) ---- Brain stem Paranoia ---- Amygdala Changes in Body Temperature ---- Hypothalamus Increased Blood Pressure ---- Hypothalamus Indifference ---- Amygdala Decreased Salivation ---- Hypothalamus Sensitivity to Light ---- Hypothalamus Decrease in Motivation ---- Nucleus Accumbens Impaired Balance ---- Cerebellum Decrease in Nausea (Unless There is a Over Consumption of Food) ---- Nucleus of the solitary tract Medicinal Marijuana Pain Relief Marijuana has a multitude of effects that are beneficial to patients suffering from many injuries and diseases. One of these is the effect of pain relief. Marijuana can help with pains ranging from headaches to back injuries. People who suffer from migraines benefit from THC as a pain killer. Cramps are also decreased as Marijuana relaxes the muscles. THC has also been known to positively effect patients with Arthritis, making the pain from inflamed joints decrease. This can assist in better movement and a less painful life style. Muscle Relaxation Patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis have been known to receive painful muscle spasms. Medicinal Marijuana helps relax muscles and provides relief to the people who would normally have muscle spasms. This in return would allow people to not only be pain free during the day, but would assist people in sleeping through the entire night and not waking up from pains. Decrease In Nausea There is also a decrease in nausea for many people when they smoke Marijuana. This is extremely helpful to patients undergoing intense disease treatment that has many negative side effects, such a chemotherapy. Patients going through chemotherapy as a method for Cancer treatment often experience intense nausea that generally results in weight loss due to the lack of food ingested. Many chemotherapy patients that smoke medicinal marijuana experience a relief from their constant nausea and start to gain more weight. This in turn helps combat their illness and in general helps them suffer less. Increase in Appetite Medicinal Marijuana assists people suffering from AIDS Wasting Syndrome by increasing their appetite and in return causing them to gain back the weight that they lost. AIDS Wasting Syndrome is when a person who suffers from AIDS loses 10% of their body weight against their will. Losing this much weight because of an illness can be extremely dangerous to a person's health. Helping to maintain weight during this syndrome is extremely beneficial and can reduce risks of other serious complications. Drowsiness Because THC can result in drowsiness, many people suffering from Insomnia and Sleep deprivation use Medicinal Marijuana to help them sleep. This is beneficial because lack of sleep results in numerous negative and dangerous side effects such as dementia, personality changes, impaired growth, being more susceptible to illnesses, and much more. Also, when the body is deprived of sleep, it can cause a decrease in ability to process and metabolize glucose, causing early stages of diabetes. Sense sleep is so important, Medicinal Marijuana is recommended in certain cases of sleeping disorers. Hope this helps answer some future questions about pot and how it will affect them. Happy toking!! -Puffer Sources + Related Links if you wanna look further into it: Anne Collins. â€œCholineâ€ Weight Loss Diet Program. 2005 Anne Collins. Accessed On March 26, 2006 <http://www.annecollins.com/nutrition/choline.htm> Best, Ben. "Chapter 8 -- Neurophysiology and Mental Function" Neurophysiology and Mental Function. 1990. 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