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How different ways of using cannabis affect the body: benefits and harms

The cannabis flower is used for recreational or medicinal purposes. The cannabis stalk is used commercially (for example, hemp fiber). Cannabis seeds are used for food and household purposes (for example, hemp seeds or hemp oil). Cannabis is also known as herb, marijuana, and many other names. Although many people smoke it, you can also use cannabis as an ingredient in food, drinks, tinctures, or topical products. How different ways of using cannabis affect your body, the publication said Health Line.

Photo: Shutterstock

When you inhale cannabis smoke into your lungs, the compounds immediately enter your bloodstream and quickly travel to your brain and other organs. The effect can come within seconds or minutes.

When you eat or drink cannabis-containing foods, the compounds must first pass through the digestive system and liver before entering the bloodstream. The effect can occur within minutes or hours.

Discussions continue about the effects of cannabis on the body. People report a variety of physical and psychological effects, from harm and discomfort to pain relief and relaxation.

Cannabinoids are the active ingredients in cannabis. They are not found anywhere else in nature.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis. It also has potential healing effects in conditions such as:

  • pain;
  • nausea;
  • decreased appetite;
  • insomnia.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is non-toxic. It has potential healing effects for conditions such as epilepsy and anxiety.

However, there is still a lot we don't know about THC and CBD.

While the National Institutes of Health has funded research into possible medicinal uses of THC and CBD, research is incredibly difficult and slow due to the federal ban and classification of cannabis as a Schedule drug.

On the subject: UN has removed cannabis from the list of dangerous drugs

Cannabis contains over 100 unique cannabinoids. Science has barely touched on what cannabinoids are capable of.

In recent years, the medicinal properties of cannabis have gained public acceptance. As of March 2021, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational or medicinal use.

What THC Will Do When It Enters Your Bloodstream

Regardless of how you use cannabis, it can cause immediate and long-term effects, such as changes in perception and increased heart rate. Over time, smoking cannabis can cause chronic cough and other health problems.

Aside from the immediate effects of cannabis, there may be longer-term effects depending on how you take it, how much you consume, and how often you use it.

As access to cannabis increases throughout the United States and around the world, knowing the effects it can have on your body is more important than ever.

Respiratory system

Similar to tobacco smoke, cannabis smoke is composed of a variety of toxic chemicals, including ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, that can irritate your bronchial passages and lungs.

If you smoke regularly, you are more likely to have a hoarse voice, cough, and phlegm. You are also at increased risk of bronchitis and lung infections. Cannabis can aggravate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma and cystic fibrosis.

Cannabis smoke contains carcinogens that could theoretically increase the risk of lung cancer.

However, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), there is no conclusive evidence that cannabis smoke causes lung cancer. More research is required.

The cardiovascular system

THC travels from the lungs to the bloodstream and throughout the body. After a few minutes, the heart rate may increase by 20-50 beats per minute. This rapid heartbeat can last up to 3 hours.

This increases the heart's need for oxygen. If you have heart disease, it can increase your risk of a heart attack.

One of the telltale signs of recent cannabis use is bloodshot eyes. The eyes look red because cannabis causes the blood vessels to dilate and fill with blood.

THC can also reduce pressure in the eyes, which can relieve glaucoma symptoms for several hours. More research is needed to understand if THC may provide long-term benefits for glaucoma.

central nervous system

The effects of cannabis extend to the entire central nervous system (CNS). Cannabis is believed to relieve pain and inflammation, as well as help control spasms and cramps. However, the potential long-term negative effects on the central nervous system must be considered.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

THC causes your brain to release large amounts of dopamine, a natural chemical that makes you "feel good." This is what gives you a pleasant thrill. It can enhance your sensory perception and time perception.

This dopamine cycle may also explain why 30 percent of cannabis users develop a cannabis use disorder. Severe disorder or addiction may be relatively rare, but can still occur.

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • irritability;
  • insomnia;
  • loss of appetite.

In the hypothalamus, THC alters the way we process information, so your judgment may be impaired. The hypothalamus is responsible for memory, so it can be difficult to form new memories when you're high.

Changes also occur in the cerebellum and basal ganglia. These areas of the brain play a role in movement and balance. Cannabis can alter your balance, coordination, and reflex response. All of these changes mean it's not safe to drive.

Very high doses of cannabis or high concentrations of THC can cause hallucinations or delusions. According to NIDA, there may be a link between cannabis use and certain mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

You may need to give up cannabis if you have schizophrenia or if someone has a family history of schizophrenia. Cannabis can worsen symptoms or increase the chances of developing the disease in people with a genetic predisposition.

In people under the age of 25, whose brains are not yet fully developed, long-term cannabis use can have long-term deleterious effects on thinking and memory processes.

Cannabis use during pregnancy can also affect the developing baby. The child may have problems with memory, concentration, and problem solving skills.

On the subject: Research: Regular use of cannabis causes serious physical changes in the heart

As mentioned earlier, the federal ban has made cannabis research largely observational, which can only reveal correlation, not causation.

What's more, these studies tended to look at unregulated, illicit cannabis, and scientists don't know if state-regulated legal cannabis has these effects.

Digestive system

Smoking cannabis can cause a tingling sensation or burning sensation in the mouth and throat during inhalation.

When taken orally, cannabis can cause digestive problems. Although THC has been shown to relieve nausea and vomiting, long-term, heavy use can paradoxically cause nausea and vomiting in some people.

Increased appetite is common with any form of THC, resulting in what many people refer to as "gagging."

This can be beneficial for people who need to gain weight or increase their appetite, such as cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

For those looking to lose weight, this effect may be considered a disadvantage, although epidemiological studies from a reliable source show that cannabis users do not have an increased risk of diabetes or obesity compared to those who do not.

The immune system

Animal studies have shown that THC can negatively affect the immune system by suppressing it.

In theory, this could make you more susceptible to infectious diseases. However, for people with autoimmune diseases and overactive immune systems, it can be beneficial.

Further research and human studies are needed to fully understand the effects.

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