Wall Clock7 min read
link between cannabis and dopamine

Let’s say you’ve been sent to the Amazon Rainforest to explore the ecosystem having bundle of species and transcending the words like beauty, marvelous, mind-numbing, etc. the moment you see it.

But is it necessary that the local tribe in the forest shall share the mutual opinion to that of yours?

Are all of you watching the same beauty— the same perception?

Absolutely no.

That’s because the Amazon rainforest is a new concept for your brain.

You have probably never seen the scenic beauty of this order or never heard leaves rustle in the manner it does here (considering you are in a safe surveillance zone).

That excites your brain more than the indigenous species in the same plank of the forest.

So, where does this excitement bubble up from?

Can science explain this phenomenon?

Fortunately, it can.

The phenomena is called as the novelty effect— the effect in which people like to explore new environments and stimuli.

Novelty is a self-explanatory term— it means newness.

So, what makes us thrive for novel stimuli?

Human beings are too lazy to explore novel stimuli without any reward!!

So, what’s it they are running for?

The answer is— dopamine— it compensates novelty by pleasing you.

It is a happy hormone that showers lots and lots of happiness as a reward to novel stimuli. [1]

When you observe the amazon rainforest— which happens to be a fresh stimulus for your cerebrum— brain gifts you the dopamine hormone which, in turn, carries happiness, freshness; and awestruck you with novelty.

Novel stimuli are known to trigger dopamine receptors in the dopamine neurons and switch on specific areas in the brain which receive dopaminergic input.

Since the thirst to earn dopamine magnifies novelty-driven value, a lot of people seek excessive novelty-characteristic, and probably this is the reason why people develop behavioral addictions.

The link between marijuana and dopamine

Before we try to link marijuana with dopamine, we should confirm if marijuana is a novel stimulus.

Marijuana research has said enough that the grass blade has THC cannabinoid, which possesses a similar-looking chemical shape as anandamide.

Anandamide— a chemical in the brain affects and influences several body activities including movement, concentration, memory, cognition, pleasure, coordination, sensory and time perception.

link between marijuana and dopamine

When we administer marijuana, the system confuses THC with anandamide and tolerates its activities, which later seem to create an entourage effect.

Amidst all the activities, THC activates the reward system in the brain, which controls pleasurable behavior.

As it sparks off the dopamine signal in the reward system, the brain and the body feels “high” more than they feel with the natural stimuli.

That being said, in simpler words, THC is a psychotropic chemical and marijuana is a novel stimulus that give you happiness, and that’s the reason why you keep wanting it again and again (which often causes drug overdose).

Although cannabis doesn’t create addiction as savage as alcohol or tobacco, it steadily develops psychological dependency over a brief time.

The relationship between cannabis and dopamine may cause addiction.

Our brain works like a street smart battery.

Imagine you have to switch on the fan’s button just next to you.

Your hands are unaware of the path, so you make use of your vision and reach the button to switch it on.

You’d do it twice and thrice, and the neurons in the brains will learn the path.

As the brain likes to work in a power-saving efficient mode, in a few days, you will be able to switch on the buttons even without looking at them.

That’s what happens when you take cannabis.

Cannabis is an input, and dopamine is an output.

Initially, the brain finds it fascinating as its neurons have no clue what’s going on (it’s a new experience) hence, it releases dopamine.

relationship between cannabis and dopamine

But when you keep feeding the same drug, it realizes that it will have to deal with the same cannabinoid over and over.

Thus, it slows the dopamine production, thereby, muting the level of happiness.

That tricks you into taking more and more drugs— wanting it to give you the similar high as it delivered on the first few administration.

You start expecting your brain to behave the same way on the 100th snort as it acted on the 1st snort— which is kind of impossible with the same dose.

And as lack of dopamine will further up your cautiousness, anxiety, stress, and irritability, you’ll try and explore unique methods to access more drugs.

In case you can’t meet the drug requirement, you may find yourself in a position where you’d be willing to cross legal limits only to invite dangers.

And that ultimately results you as a drug abuser.

Health Benefits Of Marijuana

The recent marijuana research spills the fact that it has a complicated relationship with dopamine in the brain.

The proponents of recreational marijuana, which also include veteran celebrities such as Morgan Freeman, appreciate the kind of medical reward these sassy-green grasses give.

Many of them favor legalization because THC-based dopamine gives them the power to overcome acute body conditions such as Fibromyalgia, MS, etc.

But the interaction of recreational marijuana in the brain is different from medical marijuana.

THC in recreational marijuana has differing effects on dopamine in comparison to CBD in medical marijuana.

CBD and THC are revered as the good and the bad of cannabis, respectively.

Unlike THC, CBD suppresses the work of gamma-Aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA.

health benefits of marijuana

GABA has earned notoriety in inhibiting the dopamine level.

CBD-based medical marijuana hinders its activity and automatically creates a hosting environment for dopamine.

And a few anecdotes represent high dopamine hormone as a cognitive enhancing crutch.

Since dopamine may regulate cognition and motor, the medical arena may like to use CBD for amplifying this hormone to get rid of diseases such as Parkinson’s and ADHD. [2]

Slogans such as CBD for cancer or CBD for fibromyalgia has also gotten famous among the activists who think CBD-based dopamine gives them the strength to overcome hard times.

Dopamine vs. Cortisol a battle to watch out

Unlike dopamine, Cortisol is a stress hormone— it jumps up when dopamine drops, and vice versa.

Since their presence are inversely proportional to each other, you should always look forward to increasing your dopamine rather than decreasing your Cortisol.

Once you set an eye on dopamine and not Cortisol, you will start discovering more potent ways to have dopamine.

Getting CBD doped to have some dopamine balls jumping in your body is a good move; however, you can resort to more natural ways like exercising, therapies, swimming, etc. 

Giving dopamine the happy ending

The best part about receiving dopamine through cannabis is that it’s reversible.

Unlike other addictions that destroy the dopamine receptors, in cannabis addiction, the receptors return to the normal state.

Studies have confirmed that mild to moderate dependence on cannabis doesn’t detriment these receptors in the rewarding system. [3]

The brain of ex-marijuana smokers and non-marijuana consumers had similar DA structures, which meant that cannabis, in defensively moderate consumption, was a better substance than tobacco or alcohol.

So, getting doped to get your loaf of dopamine today?

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