The effects of THC on the body

By Navid Amarlou
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Despite how heated the issue is, few have turned to look at the effects such a substance has on the body. The information I will be providing is based off of studies done in tracking human health and testing the effects of this substance on animals. The goal of this article is not to take a political stance, but to simply discuss the facts available concerning the effects of THC on the body, otherwise known as tetrahydrocannabinol.

In order to understand the effects of THC on the body in the long run, we must first understand its effects on the brain. The effectivity of cannabis is primarily in an active chemical compound, known as THC, which mimics natural endocannabinoids. Excessive exposure to either one is often detrimental to one’s health, particularly in the brain, which is why smokers can experience memory issues, augmented levels of pain, and alterations to emotion, pleasure and movement control.

Memory issues are caused due to the way that the brain receives THC. It primarily affects the hippocampus, which is largely responsible for the regulation of short term memory. According to findings in the Molecular Psychiatry journal, it has been found that heavy cannabis users are often at risk of forming false memories, even if the user had abstained from smoking for a month.

Another study was posted in the Hippocampus Journal that found the hippocampal regions of the brain were abnormally shaped and that they had performed about 18% worse on memory tests compared to those which have never smoked. Though there have been ties to cognitive decline with its use, a researcher when speaking to Reuters Health had said that those who smoked and later gave up the habit had a lower risk of developing issues with memory.

Beyond just affecting memory, THC stands to have negative effects on the heart and respiratory system as well. Given the toxic chemicals one can take in when inhaling marijuana smoke, it can be detrimental to lung health. This is due to the smoke containing harmful chemicals such as ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, beyond this, long term exposure of smoke can cause damage to the bronchial passages and the lungs.

Despite frequent contrasts between tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke, the Journal of General Internal Medicine stated that the effects of marijuana smoke had looked a lot like that of tobacco smoke. In terms of cardiological health, The National Institute on Drug Abuse has warned that it can potentially raise the resting heart beat by 50 beats per minute. The Journal of the American Heart Association also suggests that it can not only increase chances of getting a heart attack, but also heart rhythm disorders and strokes, even in those which have no other risk factors for heart disease.

There are other risks besides these, but to put it simply, marijuana can potentially be detrimental to an individual’s long term health.

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