Have you ever used a potent strain of cannabis and noticed that things were a bit, well, different? You feel euphoric, and you have an altered perception of reality. There’s a reason for that, and its name is THC. Read on to learn about the THC effects on brain activity.
What Is THC?
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of the most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. It’s the compound that most people, even novice and non-cannabis users, know gets you high. While it does affect your brain, studies have also shown that it can produce a variety of therapeutic benefits. In particular, THC can alleviate chronic pain, reduce anxiety, improve appetite, lessen nausea, and more.
How Does THC Get You High?
So, how does THC get you high and affect your brain activity? It has to do with how the THC molecules interact with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your ECS is responsible for maintaining internal balance. To do this, it monitors and manages a variety of functions within your body, including:
- Inflammatory responses
- Reproductive system
When there’s an imbalance, your body creates and releases endocannabinoids, which bind to cannabinoid receptors to unlock specific effects and restore homeostasis. The body releases enzymes that dissolve these endocannabinoids once they complete their functions.
THC binds with the cannabinoid receptors in your ESC, too, and unlocks similar effects. The enzymes your body makes to dissolve endocannabinoids don’t work on THC, though. As such, the effects linger.
What does this have to do with your brain activity? When THC binds with CB1 receptors, it causes an increase in blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for managing your attention, decision-making skills, and other functions. As such, it can alter how you would typically make decisions and lower your inhibitions.
At the same time, THC activates the reward pathways in your brain. It’s this activation that plays a role in the euphoria you feel after smoking or eating an edible.
Factors that Impact the Effects of THC
There are a number of factors that can impact how THC affects your brain activity. One of the biggest ones is the amount of CBD present in a particular strain or product you’re using. CBD doesn’t directly interact with CB receptors in the brain, but it can partially block them. In doing so, these molecules impede the ability of THC to bind with those receptors. You might still feel some mind-altering effects, but they won’t be nearly as strong as if you were using a product with a substantial amount of THC and little to no CBD.
Several Factors Impact THC Effects On Brain Activity
Other factors that play a role in how THC affects your brain include:
- Your size
- Your metabolism
- Your THC tolerance
- Your frame of mind when you used the product
Too Much THC and Your Brain Activity
While THC can produce beneficial effects and a relaxing euphoria, it is possible to go overboard. Too much THC can have unwanted consequences, resulting in extreme anxiety and paranoia. These effects, like the beneficial effects, are only temporary. They might be unpleasant, but they do wear off.
New and seasoned cannabis users know THC is the compound that gets you high. That high doesn’t just happen, though. Understanding THC effects on brain activity can help you find the best products for your needs.