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How Does Weed Affect The Brain and Lungs?



brain and lungs

Throughout centuries, cannabis has been an object of disparate fear and praise in relation to the predominant culture and policy, think about it, the government still says marijuana has high abuse potential, no medical use and poses severe safety concerns. But anecdotal evidence paired with preliminary research tells us the opposite.

Both sides of the argument make valid points to support their claims, so the important question is, do the pros of smoking weed outweigh the cons or vice versa?

Cannabis: Brief Overview of Administration

The truth is. Cannabis smoke contains significant amounts of toxic chemicals including, hydrogen cyanide, nitric acid, and ammonia. On top of that, we still don’t know how to evaluate the effects of more than 700 chemicals found in the plant. There is also the issue of Cannabinoids, we know that the plant contains more than 104 Cannabinoids, the problem is, most of these Cannabinoids have unknown effects.

What we do know is. Smoking can be harmful to health.  What happens after you inhale cannabis via vaporization or smoking is, maximal levels of THC is released into your bloodstream within minutes, peaking at 15-30 minutes, and decreasing after 2-3 hours. The effects vary depending on the rate of inhalation, depth, and duration of puffs, volume exhaled, extent of breath holding, concentration of other Cannabinoids, and the weight of the marijuana cigarette.

The reason why vaporization is a safer option is. Lower temperature delivers fewer high molecular weight components than smoked cannabis. In simple terms, vaporization reduces exposure to pyrolytic byproducts. It also reduces the smell of weed.

The point is, the more weed you smoke the longer it will stay in your system and the more harmful it becomes. Like all things, it’s all about moderation i.e. take control of the habit, don’t let it control you.

How Does Weed Affect The Brain and Lungs?

The Brain

The bad: Cannabis Shrinks your Brain

In 2014, a study came out that claimed that cannabis use ‘shrinks and rewires your brain’, on the surface, it may sound scary but that is both a good thing and a bad thing, why?

According to the findings, with prolonged marijuana use, the structural connectivity or wiring of your brain will start to degrade. This may lead to brain damage.  The increased connectivity caused by marijuana use may be your body compensating for gray matter. That is according to Dr. Aslan. The tests also showed that heavy/chronic users had lower IQs than nonusers but this did not appear to be related to brain abnormalities.

It’s worth mentioning that there are studies that claim that marijuana doesn’t shrink your brain.

Francesca Filbey, the co-author of the study had this to say:

“To date existing studies on the long-term effects of marijuana on brain structures have been largely inconclusive. While our study does not conclusively address whether any or all of the brain changes are a direct consequence of marijuana use, these effects do suggest that these changes are related to age of onset and duration of use.”

The good: Marijuana Protects your Brain (low dose)

To test how THC affects your brain, researchers at the University of Bonn and Hebrew University put two month, one year, and 18-month-old mice on a daily regimen of THC over the course of a month. They tested the mice on their ability to navigate a water maze in known and new configurations. They found that younger test subjects excelled at tests when sober but struggled with simple tasks while under the influence of THC.

On the other hand, huge improvements were seen in older mice while under the influence of THC. That indicates that the belief that marijuana stimulates the Endocannabinoid system is true. The thing is, as you grow older your Endocannabinoid system which is a biochemical pathway found in both mice and humans grows less active. Cannabis stimulates it and prevents brain degeneration.

According to researchers at the American Friends of Tel Aviv University, Low doses of THC can halt brain damage, prevent cell death and promote growth factors.


The bad: Smoking Weed may Damage your Lungs

Just like tobacco, marijuana smoke causes coughing, increased sputum and wheezing. On top of that, marijuana can cause shortness of breath and swelling in your throat. The good news is, if you stop smoking, the symptoms go away.

If you have lung cancer, smoking weed may worsen the problem, why?

Marijuana smoke as mentioned above contains more than 700 unique chemicals some of which are thought to cause cancer. Some researchers think that smoking weed if you have lung cancer increases your risk of dying. Because of that, you are advised to find alternative methods of consuming weed such as oil or edibles.

Second-hand smoke can cause serious health problems in infants, children, and anyone with a chronic lung condition.

At low doses, marijuana is not harmful to your lungs; however, habitual or regular use increases the risk of developing lung cancer and other lung Problems including:

  • Chronic coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Sputum production
  • Tuberculosis
  • Legionnaires’ disease
  • Aspergillosis
  • Airway obstruction
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Pneumothorax

If you smoke both tobacco and marijuana, you are three times more likely than non-smokers to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Good: Cannabis Protects the Cells in your Lungs 

Apart from being powerful antioxidants, Cannabinoids also have anti-inflammatory and antitumor capabilities. That’s good in that they protect the cells in your lungs from the damage caused by carcinogens released when smoking.

There is more than one way to consume weed if you are worried about carcinogens you should consider vaporizing or consuming edibles.

The truth is. The consensus is still out on what weed does to your body. As a consequence of that, it is important to learn how to moderate intake. So play it safe, don’t smoke more than you have to.

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