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While it still remains a highly divisive topic, even after long years of study and use by the public, one thing cannot be denied: cannabis has various positive effects to the human body. As different cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid (EC) system, they help reduce pain and manage various symptoms of neurological conditions; produce anxiolytic and antiemetic effects; aid with the regulation of body weight; and, according to a 2008 study, even fight bacteria.
Another popular effect of this controversial herb is the negatively perceived “couch-lock high” (a more palatable term for “stoned”) that makes you want to curl up and just laze around doing nothing. However, there are also several strains of marijuana that deliver a blissful buzz that makes users feel energetic, even uplifted and motivated. It has also been found to help with emotional processing and dealing with negative feelings. So while cannabis does have some rather unsavory effects to your social life and productivity, it can also push you to become more sociable. Here’s how.
In 1992, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who also identified and synthesized the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), discovered the neurotransmitter anandamide, which appeared to produce increased levels of happiness. Anandamide has also been found to play key roles in managing anxiety and depression, as it induces neurogenesis in the hippocampus. However, the downside of anandamide is that, just like other neurotransmitters, it breaks down quickly and thus cannot significantly prolong happiness. This is where the cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol (CBD) come in.
When THC binds with the EC system’s CB1 receptors, it produces the same euphoric effects as anandamide. At the same time that this reaction happens, CBD inhibits the uptake and degradation of anandamide. This means that there is a higher concentration of the so-called “bliss molecules” in the bloodstream, drawing out feelings of happiness, among other beneficial effects.
Certain strains of cannabis — mostly sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids — have also been found to cause an energetic high, which helps combat lethargy and fatigue brought about by depression, stress, or insomnia. Some researchers attribute this effect to terpenes, hydrocarbon compounds that give cannabis and other plants and certain insects their distinctive aromas, and that are associated with a boost in focus, alertness, and energy.
Cannabis has long been believed to help stimulate or even enhance creativity, although there are limited studies as of the moment that delve deep enough to help prove this claim. However, a 2003 study has 50% of cannabis users report that the drug helped heighten their sense of creativity. A group of researchers also found that cannabis produces psychotomimetic symptoms, which leads to a mental state that improves the capability to connect unrelated concepts. This process is a facet of divergent thinking, which is fundamental to creativity. This means that the high and altered perspectives produced by marijuana can lead the user to break free from ordinary or traditional thinking, which in turn increases the likelihood of coming up with more unique ideas. A 2011 study has also proven that cannabis can help trigger the production of new ideas and stimulate creativity by increasing the activity in the frontal lobe, the brain’s headquarters for creative divergent thinking.
THC also helps boost creativity by stopping the “breaks” in the transmission of thoughts. These breaks are the body’s natural way to prevent overwhelming the brain. By shortening or eliminating these intervals, cannabis helps the brain amplify ideas and power up its imagination center, leading to more creative output. And since THC also induces the release of dopamine in the brain, it also optimizes the process of divergent thinking.
Newer studies also took various factors into consideration, like the potency of the strain, frequency of use, and the participants’ baseline personality traits. This is because there is no universal definition or measure of creativity. For example, one research found that high doses of THC (22 mg and above) impaired divergent thinking in regular users of cannabis, but a lower dose (5.5 mg of 19% THC) actually brought an increase in traits like originality and flexibility.
Positive Social Interactions And An Uplifted Mood: This Is HAPPY.
Motivation is the “measure” of how easy it is to push yourself to do things. This is influenced by the striatum, the part of the brain that coordinates decision-making, reward perception, and motivation, among others. When you do something that feels good — for example, meeting up and talking with your friends or perhaps eating delicious food — our brains produce dopamine, also called the “happy hormone,” which allows the formation of a connection between the activity that felt good and the positive memories and feelings associated with it. This process is facilitated by the striatum.
Simply put, if there is a sufficient amount of dopamine in the striatum, it is easier for us to remember rewarding experiences, and to develop not just the habit but also the motivation to do these things. This is where cannabis can help push people toward activities and social interactions that make them feel happier. Both THC and CBD have been found to block the action of the neurotransmitter GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is to lower the amount of dopamine released by the brain. Consuming cannabis also helps trigger the activity in the EC system, which in turn helps the brain release dopamine more easily.
Mood is also a huge factor in a person’s motivation level. This is associated with the amount of serotonin in the synaptic space — the lower the amount of serotonin in your brain, the more likely you are to feel anxious, especially in public; on the other hand, sufficient or even higher amounts of serotonin improves your mood. In this regard, CBD’s capability of boosting the transmission of 5-HT1A, a type of serotonin receptor, helps prolong a person’s positive disposition.
Everyone has to eat. But apart from nourishing our bodies, eating also fulfills another important human need: social interaction. Eating is a highly social activity that makes us feel good, no matter the kind of food being served. What’s more, dining with other people also subconsciously dictates what and how much we eat — for example, people tend to eat only as much as the other person is eating, while they tend to eat more when in a larger group.
This makes the tendency of cannabis to induce “the munchies” — an important driver for socialization. A study published in Nature Neurosciencefound that THC increases the ability to smell food, leading to higher consumption. The researchers concluded, therefore, that a big reason why a person might eat more after consuming cannabis is that they can smell the food better, and therefore taste and appreciate the flavors better.
Other research also revealed that THC acts on the hypothalamic receptors that release ghrelin. Ghrelin is called the “hunger hormone.” When the stomach is empty, ghrelin is released by the brain and is more readily absorbed. However, cannabinoids trigger an early release of ghrelin, stimulating hunger and preparing the body for food intake. In high enough levels, THC can even result in the hyperactivity of the brain circuits that signal fullness, and make them communicate hunger instead.
The cannabis strain that you want to use depends on the kind of social activity you want to do. If you want to receive a good dose of motivation or a burst of energy, it’s better to stick with sativas; indicas stimulate the appetite and are therefore better for when you want to enjoy a good meal with friends and family. Meanwhile, both sativas and indicas have positive effects on creativity — it’s all a matter of preference if you want more relaxation or clarity.
Here are some recommended strains for you to try.
Smoking and eating cannabis can be fun — just ask the recreational users — but it also has a lot of beneficial mental and physical effects that will aid in socialization. Just make sure that you get the right strain and the right dose of cannabinoids, based on the result you want to achieve.
Become More Sociable. HAPPY Is The Perfect Way To Share The Fun
CrEATe is a direct-to-consumer culinary cannabis subscription that includes world-class educational materials, high-end oils, and exclusive chef-curated recipes. Embark on a transformative culinary journey.
In this eBook, we will be going through everything you need to know about culinary cannabis and how to enjoy this versatile herb responsibly.