Please, do not take this 100% to heart.
Unfortunately as you read this passage or any other one associated with marijuana right now, information is still widely uncertain and unexplainable. Due to its illegal status, it is very hard to get any research done on marijuana. In the United States, you have to have permission from four different federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration before you start. Politics also have a huge part in this, so much of the information we receive is bias and geared solely towards scaring people away from cannabis at all instead of actually being informative. For this reason, always do as much research as you can on a subject before you make your final decisions.
Pressure of the US government caused fabrications to be published of the harmful effects of marijuana, though when published, it was basically a lot of words with no substance. There was also no evidence to be seen at all. One of the teams forced rhesus monkeys to inhale large volumes of marijuana smoke, which deprived them of oxygen. They blamed their mental decline on the marijuana alone. Any study after this one has failed to produce the same findings.
Much of the research that has been done on marijuana is faulty. The groups are not controlled as they should be and background factors are never taken into account, including past traumas, diet, etc. News coverage also will label alterations as “damage” to sound more harmful than it is al though potential benefits were actually being shown.
Now, does marijuana make you depressed? There is the possibility if you abuse it, but this is always reversible. To get a better understanding of how marijuana can make us depressed overtime, I am going to lay out all the information I have so make sure everything is really discussed. This is going to be pretty wordy, so I will title paragraphs according to subject matter so that you can just skim through.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
This appeared early in the course of homo sapien evolvement and has proved to be essential for many tasks in everyday life including but not limited to : attentiveness, learning, memory, motivation and motor skills. Mice born lacking this system would exercise on their wheel about 25% less than others. Other plants involved with stimulating this system include cloves, rosemary, hops, eucalyptus, vanilla and hot petter. There are natural substances similar to those of marijuana already found in our body and work through this system to regulate our mood overall.
What does THC do in our brain?
So, basically THC just replaces an endocannabinoid already found in our body when we smoke called anandamide. This is the most well known endocannabinoid of all, which is different from a cannabinoid because it is found in the body. There are actually way more cannabinoids discovered so far. What anandamide does is it dampens the affects of the other chemicals in our brain; particularly glutamate and GABA. This causes a concentration of dopamine to form, which is usually dampened with glutamate. When the THC binds to CB1 receptors though, it tells the GABA and glutamate to stop. It may release GABA and glutamate in some areas, but more research is needed.
What do we know about anandamide?
It is from the Sanskrit “ananda” which means bliss and is produced by cell membranes and tissues. When specific receptors in the brain responded to THC in 1988, they were on the hunt and finally found their answer in 1992. The discovery was made by Czech analytical chemist Lumir Ondrei Hanus and American molecular pharmacologist William Anthony Devane in the laboratory of Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.The precursor N-arachidonylphosphatidylethanolamide is needed though which is made from the bonding of arachidonic acid and a free anime through enzyme reaction from N-acyltransferase.
Anandamide has a long carbon tail making is soluble in fat allowing it to easily slip through the blood brain barrier. It strongly resembles THC, though THC is larger and lasts much longer in the body. The reason anandamide does not make us high is because once it connects to the CB1 receptors, it quickly breaks. Anandamide may play a role in the making and breaking of short term connections between nerve cells.Anandamide also stimulated forgetfulness, though not poor memory. Your brain actively begins to repress something , such as a tragic event or the pain during child bearing.
Anandamide is synthesized in areas of the brain involved with memory, higher though process and movement as well. Anandamide acts as a chemical messenger between the embryo and uterus during implantation of the uterine wall, making it one of the first communications between mother and child. This means that THC may interfere with signaling between he mother and child. Mouse embryos exposed to THC-like compounds had lower survival rates than average rats and even suffered more abnormalities.
A number of creatures have anandamide in them not including humans, such as sea urchin roe (eggs), pigs in their brains and mice in their liver. 3 of the compounds in dark chocolate strongly resembled anandamide! Anandamide actually affects CB2 receptors as well, but mainly in the periphery regions. During ovulation, anandamide levels in plasma are at their highest as well as the sex hormones gonadotrophin and estradiol, though it is not clear what the relation is. Kittens and monkeys have more receptors in the cortex than adults, so possibly anandamide plays a roll in the development of the cortical function.
Anandamide is classified as a bioactive lipid or fatty acid amide, though is also classified as an eicosanoid or lipid derived from essential fatty acids. Anandamide is relatively large and made up of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon with the molecular formula C22H37NO2 and molar mass of 347.53 g/mol. In 1997, pigs treated with anandamide walked less and played down more as well as had slower respiration and body temperature. The compounds were found in dark chocolate as well as compound N-acylethanolamines that prevents the break down of anandamide.
Anandamide is degrade by the fatty acid amide hydrolase FAAh enzyme and converts back to arachidonic and ethanol amine. It is considered fragile for its relatively short half-life, compared to THC which can remain for weeks. sn-2 arachidonylglycerol can also lock into these receptors and is found in concentrations up to one hundred seventy times higher than anandamide and may have complementary functions.
What is dopamine?
Marijuana does not increase dopamine, but the effects that we feel are most likely from it. Marijuana works by suppressing GABA, which job is to suppress dopamine, With GABA out of the way, it pushes out continuously. Dopamine is a naturally occurring chemical in our body that makes us feel good. Usually, the feel good is a reward for us completing goals and personal tasks like eating, sex, etc. If you are a continuous smoker, you are constantly letting extra dopamine throw your homeostasis out of whack. Eventually , your body is going to try to fix the imbalance by becoming less sensitive to dopamine. Also, you have to actively be doing stuff to get your dopamine levels up! Live to make yourself healthy and happy and they will naturally boost! Pretend you are a Sims 3 character.
What is GABA?
GABA helps us relax because it is an inhibitory molecule that slows firing neurons. Practicing yoga or meditation can naturally increase GABA. A study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found a 27% increase after an hour session of yoga compared to those who read a book. Benzodiazepines similar to Valium and Xanax work by increasing GABA, though have side effects and risk of dependency.
GABA is technically an amino acid, though is not part of the food we eat. You may find trace amounts, but most is synthesized in the body from glutamate which you have plenty of. Many medications and remedies for anxiety involve the levels of GABA. Caffeine inhibits GABA, though lets glutamate keep going, so you become hyper. Glutamate is basically the opposite of GABA since it is the brains excitatory molecule.
Dr David Lewis at the University of Pittsburgh and his team made genetic manipulations in mice that selectively reduced the GABA system function by decreasing the expression of the enzyme that makes GABA, GAD67 or decreasing the expression of the principal receptor target for endocannabinoids in the brain in order to determine whether a change in one can cause a change in another. Researchers found that reduces expression of GAD67 lead to reduction of expression of CB1 receptors, but not vice versa. If you suffer depression, GABA can stimulate an episode.
When GABA is suppressed, a wide variety of effects come out of hiding which were not possible before. This explains increased senses and psychedelic effects marijuana has including also sexual pleasure. This is the mind unconfined. GABA is needed for bodily functions such as muscle tone, but too much can cause anxiety, skin flushing and skin tingling. This should not happen if you stay under gram dosing. Magnesium and b6 are both needed to produce GABA, which we are widely deficient in today.
What is glutamate?
Glutamate excites neural netwoks which inhibit various behaviors, so suppression can contribute to relaxation and some of marijuanas behavioral effects such as magical thinking and wild dancing. Glutamate can damage brain cells, so suppressing it provides some protection against brain damage. You will find glutamate in head injury, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and more.
What makes us depressed?
Depression is closely related to lower levels of dopamine, but generally it is due to an imbalance in neurotransmitters in your brain. Your body is constantly striving for homeostasis or balance, including with these! When they are out of whack, your body actively is striving to get it back. Our neurotransmitters become out of balance from a lot of things, though the people today are much more prone than ever before for this to happen. Why? Poor diet makes it impossible for our body to make what it needs because we aren’t giving it the proper ingredients. Activities that we fail to complete are also a cause.
Some neurotransmitters are stimulated by being around other people , completing a goal, etc. Basically, if you aren’t doing things to make you happy, you aren’t going to be happy. Drugs give us only a fake sense of happiness by supplying us with the neurotransmitters we crave. Usually, each drug only affects one of them, and will send them out of whack. Dopamine is the most notable, but the other ones also directly affect your mood and even cognitive abilities. You want them all to be present, not just one taking over… which will leave you completely void later. You can take most of these things in supplement pill forms, but you can just as easily get out there and make yourself happy.
Does marijuana lower dopamine levels, making you sad?
Unlike other drugs including alcohol and cocaine, marijuana does not actually force you to produce more dopamine. This is why the addiction rate is relatively low (one in ten users) .Instead, it produces less GAMA (which works opposite to dopamine sort of ).Your brain will eventually start to destroy the CB1 receptors that anandamide or marijuana cling to to compensate for the lower GAMA (homeostasis).This causes less blood to get to the brain as well as oxygen, which causes memory loss, attention deficiencies and learning disability. Your body does not know that you are just trying to get high and actually thinks something is wrong with you, but if you quit smoking weed, your levels will slowly rise back up back to normal. There have been several studies with conflicting results whether or not marijuana lowers dopamine levels. One study proved that to be true, but it could also just be due to the fact that most people who do drugs have a mental disorder already , thus low dopamine. So the problem was already there and is just being masked with marijuana, just like other drugs are legally used for this like Xanax or Ritalin.
If you are under the age of 25, your brain is likely still developing making it a very bad idea to use marijuana chronically. Your brain needs time to grow uninterrupted, or else you can notice permanent damage. Some pot smokers in a research study had IQ’s ten points lower than when they were tested as an adolescent due to smoking chronically beginning at a young age. Those who smoked chronically after adulthood had no change. This can increase your chances of having mental disorder also because you are tapping directly into the chemical balance in your head while it is still developing.
Does marijuana reduce my sensitivity to dopamine?
Nora Volkow from the US National Institute of Drug Abuse did a study on twenty four marijuana users and non users to record the effects of methylphenidate used in treatment for ADHD and narcolepsy by stimulating dopamine production. The chosen marijuana smokers had to partake at least five times a day five days a week for five decades. Both groups produced the same amount of dopamine, though their sensations were blunted on the pot smoking side. The smokers felt restless and anxious, though their heart rate and blood pressure were lower than non smokers. It has been said before that marijuana raises your heart rate. Also as I mentioned earlier, marijuana doesn’t actually raise your dopamine levels. I believe over time,CB1 receptors are removed to compensate for the extra dopamine floating around, which may make you react less. It’s a confusing matter honestly. Supposedly, the pot smokers generally had a more negative attitude than the latter. Researchers believe that the reward center is what is being damaged or the ventral striatum. Its concluded that marijuana smokers get less joy out of things that non smokers would fine pleasurable which only makes sense since they do not know they joy of smoking , so they can’t compare it.
How can marijuana affect me short term?
Here are some symptoms that may be associated with someone abusing marijuana , though mostly temporary: loss of motivation, listlessness, loss of emotional and spiritual growth, disrupted hormones, lower IQ, loss of interest in pursuing goals, apathy, anxiety, impaired learning and memory, dull emotions, brain fog and more similar ailments. My though here though is that these are kind of the reasons why I use marijuana… because I am trying to chill out and not do anything at all… “Wow this marijuana really woke me up” said no one.
Forgetfulness is one of the popular symptoms or marijuana use, but this could actually be useful for someone who has experienced a traumatic event they wish to move on from. Everything has a purpose if you look for it. Many artists use this forgetfulness as a way to improv new comedy and art. It makes them easier to get into the flow of things and come up with new ideas that could have been originally stifled while you were only recalling older ideas because your brain is locked.
Marijuana has many other medical effects: broncho-dilation, anti-carcinogenic, decreased intracranial and intra-ocular pressure, glucagon release, anti-nociceptive,reduced insulin tolerance, lymphocyte suppression,antiemetic,anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticonvulsant, antipsychotic ,psychotomimetic and more.
Is marijuana harmful?
Compared to the medication that is widely accepted and taken today by the masses, marijuana is actually nontoxic. There is a reported lethal amount, but it is almost impossible to reach by anyone… even a cyborg Bob Marley. Though edibles make it a lot easier to take high amounts at once, they also are used very irresponsibly is why. The high takes longer to kick in than with traditional smoking methods, but newbies rarely are told this tidbit of information and will keep scarfing down brownie until it is gone, still complaining about how weak it is until twenty more minutes pass. BE PATIENT. They scarf down amounts that are supposed to get you high probably ten times, then have intense highs that can’t even be experienced from smoking marijuana. When it is processed through the liver (like when taken as an edible), marijuana can cause hallucinations and is reportedly four times more intense.
Have deaths been caused by marijuana?
If you do look in to the deaths reportedly caused by cannabis, there is no real proof that it was actually the cannabis. There have been at least three deaths supposedly caused by marijuana edibles, though none by overdose. Levy Thamba Pongi at age 19 would take a leap to her death from a Denver hotel after ingesting pot cookies. Kristine Kirk at the age of 44 was fatally shot by Richard Kirk who allegedly was experiencing hallucinations after taking pot candy with prescription medications. Most recently, Luke Goodman at the age of 23 shot himself at the Colorado Keystone Ski Area after ingesting 50mg of tetrahydrocannabinol. Keep in mind the recommended dose to be “high” is 10mg for the non regular smoker, so this person over did it by a bit.
As you can see, the connection here to marijuana is vague. With due respect to the families of the fallen parties, these just aren’t effects that marijuana produces. I have smoked a lot of weed… and never have I considered killing myself. I feel like killing myself when I am not high to be honest! Marijuana is definitely a drug, but in a medical sense as well. Certain people’s brains are set up a little different such as chemical imbalances caused by mental disorder and such. In these cases, marijuana can have bad effects since it is another chemical coming into your brain, throwing it off balance. Not everyone can smoke pot just like not everyone can eat jello.
Though it really doesn’t happen when you smoke, edibles reportedly do cause hallucinations. This gentleman also took his marijuana medication with another medication. You have to be sure that they are going to go safely together.. just like any other drug. As I mentioned earlier, marijuana doesn’t really make you violent… it notoriously does the opposite. Someone who can flip the switch like that would have likely done it without the creative assistance of cannabis eventually. The last gentleman also committed suicide, but I just can’t believe that it was from taking marijuana this one time. It could even be possible in both situations that both of the suicide victims just wanted to be relaxed before passing.
These deaths still are nothing in comparison to the deaths caused yearly by alcohol, fast food, tobacco, caffeine and a plethora of other things that are completely legal. Alcohol alone takes roughly six lives a day in America and there are only handfuls of death caused by marijuana, which probably weren’t even caused by marijuana.
Is marijuana linked to mental disorder?
Those who suffer from depression have reported to have suicidal thoughts after quitting marijuana. This isn’t the marijuana doing this.. it is incredibly low levels of dopamine. You just suddenly took the number one source away, so your body is begging for it back! Those who suffer from depression already have low levels of dopamine, so yes getting attached to a new form of dopamine and then taking away… is going to be worse than if you just left your brain alone. Nobody likes a tease. 85% or adolescents with substance abuse problems suffer from a mental condition and those with ADHD are the most frequent (they are said to have addictive personalities). In small doses though, marijuana has proved incredibly helpful for ADHD patients who are to able to focus, control impulses, control anger and be relaxed in general. They also suffer from low dopamine levels, which is what makes them more prone to addiction.
Psycho-stimulants are usually used as treatment for ADHD which stimulate dopamine release, unlike marijuana. This makes for a more naturally feeling for ADHD patients, who often prefer the more natural marijuana while amphetamines feel artificial. They also make it very difficult to sleep and eat, while marijuana is infamous for making you want to sleep and eat which is great since those are two ways many ADHD patients are actively harmed .Your body is ALWAYS looking for chemical balance, even if it means doing drugs to do it. Marijuana could be a better source for them than the pills they are using now, though.
Marijuana has also been used in treatment of autism by relieving the overstimulation-related emotional anxiety and tension that inhibits their behavior. Some evidence points towards autism being caused by abnormalities in cannabinoid signaling, so marijuana may rebalance it for some. Autism has been said to be caused by too much glutamate and not enough GABA, while marijuana suppresses both at once. Marijuana also reduces the volume of fluid in the head following head injury, lowers brain temperature and prevents prion accumulation, all of which protect against brain damage. You also will experience a reduced risk in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. So marijuana can be used to rebalance homeostasis for someone suffering mental disorder, but in no means is it a cure.
What areas of the brain are mostly affected by marijuana ?
The hippocampus, cerebral cortex, cerebellum and basal ganglia contain endocannabinoid receptors in high concentration, so their functions are what can be impaired when using marijuana the most specifically though this is different for other drugs . The hippocampus is vital for learning and memory, the cerebellum regulates coordination and balance, the basal ganglia is involved with controlling movement and the cerebral cortex has functions like decision making, problem solving, memory, vision, language, perception, information processing and more.
Are drugs the only reason our neurotransmitters would be out of balance?
Neurotransmitters control our mood, so we should obviously be careful with altering them… but you would be surprised to know that this epidemic is becoming more common every day. Drugs are the easiest source for us to get a surplus of neurotransmitters which we are desperately craving, but what you body is really striving for is balance.
If you have a poor diet, your neurotransmitters are definitely out of whack. Your body is not getting the nutrition needed to build the neurotransmitters in the first place so even supplementing would not help. Drugs however provide a synthetic form of these neurotransmitters that by pass all these rules and jump right in to the party! Clearly, your brain is going to beg for these drugs back! Arachidonic acid is very important for building neurotransmitters and is an essential amino acid found in hemp seeds.
Chronic stress, brain trauma, poor living environments and many other things can contribute to neurotransmitter deficiency. Today, we are more antisocial than ever! We also are not receiving the feel good chemicals from human interaction which leaves us depressed. Everything your body does is really an effort to get these neurotransmitters in balance and make you happy, even eating food and having sex! Happiness is your reward for doing what you are supposed to do, so go do stuff! Today more than ever, we are prone to depression and anxiety directly caused by our weird living habits. People who have social attitudes and are generally extrovert tend to have higher dopamine levels.
All depression medications as well as those for other mental disabilities are geared towards balancing out these chemicals which solely dictate our emotions, but these drugs are more harmful than non toxic marijuana which you can not overdose on. There are also side effects to take into account for those and the addiction rates. Marijuana is relatively low for addiction because it doesn’t actually increase dopamine, but decreases GAMA and glutamate.
How do other popular drugs affect me?
Scientists wondered early on how morphine derived from plants could possibly have an affect on humans, which of course led to research and discovery. There had to of been a receptor in the brain that morphine was already ably to mind to. Why would we have receptors specifically for a plant, though? Unless, there was a molecule already in our brain that was meant to lock in to that receptor! Enkephalins were discovered in the brain to be just that! Our own morphine!
Sugar, cocaine, amphetamines and alcohol increase dopamine while other drugs like heroin and opioids mimic endorphins. Marijuana and dark chocolate mimic anandamide. Nicotine affects acetylcholine while Ativan and Valium mimic GABA. Elevated levels of serotonin, GABA, dopamine or endorphins will give you profound joy, euphoria or relaxation as well as other stimulating effects.
As you neurotransmitters become more depleted, your body clings even harder to what it knows will give it neurotransmitters; which is drugs. You think though that your body is begging you for weed, but it’s simply begging for the way the weed balances its neurotransmitters.
What is serotonin?
This is basically a natural anti-depressant. It actually plays several roles in the body, though it’s most notable effect is confidence. With higher levels of serotonin, you will be more likely to let rejection roll off your shoulder, which makes you more likely to go into situations that could seem intimidating before, but now give a feeling of worthiness and belonging. You can increase your serotonin levels at home by challenging yourself to complete goals that will give you a sense of purpose. Serotonin-Specific Reuptake Inhibitors include drugs like Prozac, Lexapro, Zoloft and Celexa and are used for clinical depression. They can also be prescribed for pain, eating disorders, PTSD and more. Ecstasy also stimulates serotonin and makes raves much more fun. Unfortunately, serotonin is not the only chemical involved with depression, which is why it doesn’t work for everyone. Other people have responded to GABA, dopamine and nonrepinephrines as well. SSRI’s also take longer to kick in, about a few weeks which may imply that new nerves are having to grow beforehand.
What are endorphins?
These are the pain killing molecule. The name translates to self-produced morphine and resemble opiates in chemical structure with analgesic properties. They are produced in the pituitary gland and hypothalamus during physical exertion, sexual intercourse and orgasm. They were once linked to the runners high, though it may be endocannabinoids doing this instead. The ‘feeling no pain’ aspect is related to endorphins though, like in many other strenuous physical activities. Higher levels of endorphins have been found in the cerebrospinal fluid after patients underwent acupuncture and it is a great way to stimulate release. However, don’t tell the cops or they will arrest you for it. Just kidding.
What is adrenaline?
Adrenaline is best known for supplying energy in tough situations, though it is technically known as epinephrine. This causes an increase in heart rate,blood pressure and causes less important blood vessels to contract. Shots of epinephrine are used in treatment of acute allergic reactions. You typically get an adrenaline rush when thrown into distressful or fearful situations. If you feel endangered, flight or fight kicks in which in either case, you’re going to need that energy. Sometimes people will act recklessly just to get this rush. Think Bella jumping off a cliff just to see Edward’s ominous presence.
What is oxytocin?
This is a hormone directly linked to human bonding as well as increasing trust and loyalty. High levels have been correlated with romantic attachment in some studies. Couples separated for a long period of time lacking physical connection have lower levels, driving them to long to be with that person again. In men, vasopressin may be the bonding molecule, which is really similar to oxytocin. A strong attachment with your dog can even increase these levels. Any sort of warm physical contact will due, but when it comes to pets, we leave it at cuddling of course. Many Americans are deficient in this because we live in a more anti social environment than ever before thanks to social media and our phones practically being glued to our face.
Long story short
So marijuana has the potential to lower the amount of dopamine you are naturally receiving, but only temporarily. Depending on how long you have been using it, it could take just a day or maybe a week. The effects are in no way permanent, unless you started smoking as an adolescent in which case you could have damaged your brain permanently! So my advice here is to take a tolerance break every now and then to give your body a chance to catch back up! Occasional smokers will most likely not experience these problems.
Before you pin blame on marijuana for making you depressed, look at your life habits! Are you completing goals, seeing friends, eating well and having sex? If not, you are making yourself depressed! There are a few chemicals in our brain that monitor our mood based on what we do. We are able to make ourselves high for free, so do it! If you can not monitor your diet, take supplements and arachidonic acid to make sure your brain has the nutrition it needs to produce neurotransmitters.