Is marijuana bad for you? What are side effects of smoking weed? Before starting a conversation about side effects of marijuana usage, it is essential to establish some general terms. What is marijuana? How it became so commonly used among Americans? And how does it work?
Various names for marijuana have occurred over the years. Etymologically speaking, word Marijuana first attested in Mexican Spanish in the early 19th century. Later, the term got accepted into other languages. Weed, cannabis, hashish, herb, are all describing the same substance that naturally developed and is used for centuries as a natural relaxant or mild hallucinogenic.
When talking about marijuana (under various names), people usually refer to a plant called Cannabis Sativa in different forms. So what makes you high? The element that is responsible for your high is called Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and is referred commonly as THC. Shortly after THC enters your bloodstream, and you feel marijuana effects on the body. Your world perception and body performance are both altered in various ways.
There is no exact statistic data on how widespread marijuana is, due to it still being illegal in most states of the USA however, some sources claim that at least every third American has used weed once in their life. Now as the negative weed stereotypes are becoming a thing of the past due to scientific research, marijuana is growing more and more popular.
This phenomenon caused legalization of marijuana usage in some US states for medical and even recreational purposes. Medical research in various fields has proven benefits of smoking weed in cases of cancer, AIDS, and various other serious illnesses.
Even though marijuana, when used occasionally, is not believed to be harmful, adverse side effects may occur and impact your intellectual and physical performance in the form of slow reflexes and overall lower your decision-making capabilities. Even though the high only lasts several hours, signs of usage can be detected in your urine up to seven days after use or even up to a month after regular use.
Commonly used terms for marijuana
Weed or marijuana:
Slang for cannabis and all derivatives.
A plant that usually grows in the Northern hemisphere. Parts of the plant are used as a relaxing substance.
A scientific name for a hemp plant.
An extract from cannabis. In most cases is more potent than the regular weed.
Negative side effects of marijuana
Like with any substance, the way our bodies react to it is different from one person to another. One might feel the complete opposite effect when using the same drug. This is heavily dependent on your physiology and health. However other factors are also responsible for the outcome. Your psychological state, type and amount of weed and other factors may alter your experience.
Most common and well known short-term side effects of marijuana are dry mouth and bloodshot eyes. When this can be easily fixed or masked with water or eye washing products, other side effects like slower reflexes, giggling and enhanced color and sound recognition are usually considered to be a goal of use.
However, usage of strong kinds of cannabis, or frequent use may have substantial effects such as hallucination or in some cases even increased anxiety and paranoia. Even though marijuana does not trigger risk-related behavior like alcohol or other drugs, but weed impacts your essential mental functions, such as general cognitive performance, memory, and attention. This kind of altered perception makes things such as driving very risky for both you and other drivers.
Short-term effects of weed are proven to be less dangerous than consequences caused to your nervous system in the long run. Scientists still research long-term effects of marijuana on brain and body.
Health risks of Weed consumption
A lot of stereotypes are surrounding the topic of weed being extremely dangerous. However, it is safer that majority of other drugs in the same category, such as amphetamines and barbiturates. Marijuana, when used occasionally is very rarely directly associated with any health issues. Even when it comes to serious usage of cannabis, significant adverse health effects are yet to be proven by scientists. Is the user is healthy, impaired movement control is the most significant proven issue that may occur.
But, for people suffering from heart-related disorders, diabetes of some mental issues, weed may be very harmful. When cannabis enters your system, it influences almost every primary organ, in various ways. Sometimes the influence is positive, but not always. Consumption of Marijuana by inhaling it with smoke or vapor creates an almost instant reaction in most cases. THC is instantly transported to your bloodstream.
Use of marijuana with food-related products is usually affecting the body in a period of between 20 to 80 minutes. Below, we listed most common issues believed to be triggered by weed.
It is proven that heavy usage of weed may cause dependency, however, marijuana is less addictive than other substances including alcohol and tobacco. Statistics on the topic show that only about ten percent of the people who use it are becoming addicted. However statistical data varies from one study to another.
Cardiac arrest and related issues
During the consumption of cannabis, heart rate levels are significantly higher than usual. High heart rates are usually related to higher chances of heart-related problems, there for any form of marijuana is not recommended for heart patients. Especially cardiac arrest patients
Our brain is heavily dependent on blood supply, consuming almost half of all body supply, that is delivered through our bloodstream. When THC is absorbed into your blood, it is instantly affecting the performance of your brain with both long-term and short-term effects on your mind.
Some parts of our brain carry elements similar to THC themselves, proving negative chemical balance.
In a short-term, some parts of the brain are over-activated, changing the natural balance and altering the brain chemistry. And irregular chemical balance in our brain cells is what causes alteration of sensory perception. And makes you feel high. Scientists proved that heavy use might cause analytical capability reduction and even short-term memory loss.
In a long-term use scenario, especially if the massive consumption started in teenage days or earlier, extensive brain structure change appears. Studies suggest that IQ levels of adolescent marijuana users have a tendency to fall up to 13 points, and even after quitting the drug, they never fully recover. On the other side, same studies show that users who started consumption in adult years are unlikely to lose IQ due to weed usage.
Lung irritation may be caused by heavy use of weed, especially in long-term scenarios. However, studies prove that smoking weed is not connected to higher chances of getting lung cancer, unlike tobacco cigarettes.
Sexual health issues
Heavy use of weed can affect sexual health of men, by lowering testosterone levels as well as sperm count. This may result in reduced sexual desire and fertility. Cannabis usage is also not recommended for pregnant women due to high levels of carbon monoxide.
Other health-related risks
As long as public attention to weed is continuously growing, higher capital investment into research and consumption regulation attention appears. Scientists understand more how THC is impacting our body more with every new study. Such symptoms as depression, dizziness, significant appetite and slower reflexes may have more profound consequences on our bodies than we think now.
Modern marijuana consumption culture has caused THC levels of cannabis to grow. Many health professionals are concerned with the THC level issue, due to unpredictable consequences high levels of THC may cause.
Marijuana is in use for centuries. However recent studies show that if past decades THC amounts almost doubled, but it means that consumption of the same amount of weed is bringing more alteration as well as potential side effects that have to be extensively studied.
Can we minimize weed side effects?
Marijuana is significantly less dangerous than tobacco. Yes, it does have more tar. However, studies show that marijuana does not lead to lung cancer even in case of regular use. Various carcinogens are released when smoking, to avoid them people are using alternative consumption methods. Bakery, drinks and other food-related consumption methods are dealing with smoke-related health issues. However, those methods are very extended periods of time.
One more alternative is weed vaporization. By using modern vaporizers, you can consume weed with up to 95% less harm to your lungs than regular smoking. The technology works by bringing substance into contact with a heating element. Nowadays the vaporizing technologies are developing at an incredible pace. This trend brings the prices and availability of all variety of products directly to a consumer, allowing for a better consumption culture.
However, there are some cultural elements mixed in as well. Some would say that there is nothing better than rolling a joint. In any case, brought acceptance of something new usually takes some time. Also, vaporization industry is very unregulated at the moment, and some legal alterations to the industry may occur.
Overall, knowing what you are dealing with and what may be the potential side effect of weed consumption and how to minimize them is an excellent investment into your health. No matter why you use cannabis for recreational or medical reasons, the more you are familiar with the topic, the better it is for you.
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