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How Cannabis Effects Your Body & Brain

Posted by Lewis Olden on
How Cannabis Effects Your Body & Brain

With the legal restrictions on cannabis that have been in place for decades beginning to subside, cannabis use around the globe is on the rise.

Marijuana is still designated as a Schedule 1 drug in the United States and THC is a controlled substance in the United Kingdom. The Schedule 1 listing means that cannabis is deemed to have no current medical use. This has meant that it has been very difficult to obtain the required clinical evidence to prove the true efficacy of treating certain conditions using cannabis.

Despite cannabis being legalised for recreational use in more states after the 2020 election. States that legalised recreational cannabis as a result of the 2020 US election are Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota and Arizona. In light of this, now 1 in 3 American citizens can now legally purchase cannabis.

Even though the legal restrictions on a Federal level limit the extent scientists can study the drug. There is a growing body of research and numerous anecdotal stories have illustrated links between cannabis and its derived cannabinoids such as CBD as having significant health benefits, including sleep, pain relief and the potential to treat particular forms of epilepsy.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report in 2017 which provides an excellent overview of where we currently stand with respect to the science of cannabis.

Cannabis Linked to the Cause of Vomiting & Nausea

A study that was carried out in Colorado found that stomach problems such as vomiting and nausea were the main driver for 2,500 cannabis related visits to Accident and Emergency in Colorado hospitals.  

Cannabis Can Make You Feel Good

One of the active compounds of the cannabis plant is tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. THC interacts with the brain’s reward system within the central nervous system and is naturally optimised to respond to things that provide pleasure such as food and sex. 

When the central nervous system becomes excited by THC, the brain’s reward system composes feelings of euphoria. However, the more often these reward systems are triggered, the more the experiences are dampened in the long-term.

Cannabis May Relieve Pain

Cannabidiol often referred in its short-hand form of CBD. CBD is a chemical that does not cause the user to get high and is one of the components that provides the therapeutic effects of cannabis. Therapeutic effects that are often associated with cannabis are:

The have been studies that found substantial evidence that cannabis can be an effective treatment for chronic pain. It has been discovered that a combination of both CBD & THC is often the best way to treat chronic pain issues. Pain and chronic pain are the reason behind the majority of requests to be prescribed medical cannabis.

Cannabis Could Be Used to Treat Arthritis

Treating pain with cannabis could be beneficial due to the anti-inflammation effect cannabis has. Inflammation is a major factor in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

A clinical study that was undertaken in 2005 with 58 rheumatoid arthritis patients. 50% of the participants were given a placebo and the remainder were given a cannabis based medicine named Sativex. The participants who were given Sativex benefitted from statistically significant improvements in their pain at rest, sleep quality and pain in movement.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Many people who suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis may benefit from being prescribed cannabis.

A study conducted in 2014 looked into two studies of people with chronic Crohn’s disease. Half of the participants within the study were given a cannabis-based medication and the other half were given a placebo. The study found that there was a decrease in the patients symptoms in 10 of the 11 participants using the cannabis-based medication compared with just 4 out of 11 of those who were given a placebo.

Cannabis and Epileptic Seizures

The FDA approved a CBD medication named Epidiolex in June of 2018. Epidiolex can be prescribed to people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome which are two very rare forms of epilepsy. Epidiolex is the first FDA approved treatment option for Dravet syndrome. 

Common side effects that were found when the clinical trial took place were drowsiness, decreased appetite, diarrhoea and fatigue.

Marijuana and Time

One commonly reported side effect of marijuana is feeling as if time has slowed down or passes quicker than usual. There was a study carried out in 2012 that set out to investigate the causes behind these effects. 

In 70% of those questioned after marijuana use an overestimation of time was reported, the discoveries of time productions remained inconclusive.

Time can often be beyond comprehension and the mechanisms of the mind that digest time remain an illusion to us all. 

Cannabis Increasing Appetite  

The infamous munchies are often associated with smoking marijuana. Both hardcore users and casual smokers of cannabis report that they tend to overeat when they are using cannabis.

A study carried out on mice found that there was a possibility that marijuana may flip a circuit in the brain that is usually responsible for reducing appetite and instead triggers hunger.

There are a group of cells in the human brain that are usually activated once a large meal has been consumed to inform the brain that enough food has been eaten. THC seems to activate only one component of the appetite suppressing cells, causing you to feel hungry rather than satisfied. 

A study that was conducted in 2014 found that cannabis had no effect on body weight, meaning while cannabis may cause the occasional indulgence, it does not have a severe long term effect on people’s weight.

Athletes Use of Cannabis

There are some athletes that believe there is a benefit to their performance. Athletes in endurance and adventure sports report that cannabis can boost their athletic performance. This is probably due to the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis that enable an athlete to push through the pain barrier and push themselves to the limit. 

More research needs to be carried out into this. There are sports league that are considering allowing the use of cannabis. The NFL and Major League Baseball are both considering allowing players to use cannabis how they see fit without ramification. 


Using the evidence that has been compiled to date, there are many reasons to believe that cannabis has therapeutic effects and medicinal benefits.

More research is required to obtain definitive clinical data to ascertain what conditions can be most effectively treated with cannabis. Ensuring cannabis products and cannabis-based medicines are safe is also integral to elevating the cannabis industry.

If you are interested in learning more about how CBD effects the body in different ways then feel free to read our comprehensive guide on the side effects of CBD oil.

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