When I first ventured into the world of cannabis, it was less out of necessity and more out of sheer curiosity. I had read countless articles on the subject, listened to numerous anecdotes, and had many second-hand experiences. But I never truly understood how weed worked in the human body until I decided to delve into the science and lived the experience. I’m now sharing this journey with you, hoping to shed some light on the fascinating interactions between weed and our biological systems, including various consumption methods, the effects they provoke, and the individualized experience that each user can expect.
Cannabis and its Multifaceted Nature
Cannabis sativa, a plant of ancient civilization, is a wellspring of compounds known as cannabinoids. More than 100 cannabinoids have been identified, but the two that have sparked the most interest are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the superstar of the psychoactive effects we generally associate with marijuana. The compound leads to the ‘high’ sensation, often characterized by euphoria, altered sensory perception, and even a time warp sensation where minutes can feel like hours.
On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive and has been lauded for its potential therapeutic effects, including anxiety reduction, anti-inflammatory properties, and even seizure control. When CBD and THC are consumed together, CBD can counteract some of the less desirable effects of THC, such as anxiety or paranoia.
A Symphony of Cannabinoids: The Endocannabinoid System
The key to understanding how these cannabinoids interact within our body is the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This complex network of cell receptors and corresponding molecules in the human body was discovered in the late 1980s while researchers were trying to understand the effects of cannabis.
The ECS helps regulate numerous functions, including mood, appetite, sleep, immune response, and pain. It’s like an internal maestro, orchestrating various bodily functions to maintain homeostasis – the body’s optimal state of balance.
When you consume cannabis, THC and CBD (along with other cannabinoids and compounds) enter your bloodstream and eventually reach the brain. THC mostly binds with CB1 receptors (part of the ECS), imitating the body’s endocannabinoids. This interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals responsible for relaying messages between cells. These messages can pertain to various functions, from immune response to mood regulation, explaining the myriad effects of cannabis.
A Personal Journey: Different Strains, Different Effects
Cannabis strains are as diverse as the people who consume them. They’re typically categorized into three types: Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, and hybrids (a mix of Indica and Sativa).
Indica strains are generally associated with relaxation and sedation (often termed ‘body high’), making them suitable for nighttime use or relaxation. Sativa strains tend to induce more cerebral effects, such as creativity enhancement, euphoria, and uplifting mood (often termed ‘mind high’), which may be preferred for daytime use. Hybrids are crafted to offer a balanced mix of these effects.
However, these distinctions are not hard and fast rules. The effects of a particular strain can vary widely from person to person, highlighting the highly individualized nature of cannabis consumption.
Understanding Consumption Methods
The method of consumption greatly impacts the onset, intensity, and duration of cannabis’s effects. Let’s go through some of the most common methods.
- Inhalation (Smoking and Vaporizing): Smoking or vaping cannabis leads to the direct absorption of cannabinoids into the bloodstream through the lungs, reaching the brain within minutes. The effects are rapid but tend to wane quicker compared to other methods.The most common tool is to use Bong. You can buy directly at the Headshop or make your own Bong.
- Oral (Edibles and Tinctures): Ingesting cannabis results in a delayed but more prolonged effect. It can take 30 minutes to 2 hours to kick in, but the effects can last several hours. This is because the cannabinoids are metabolized by the liver, converting THC to 11-hydroxy-THC, a more potent compound.
- Topical Application: Cannabis-infused creams, balms, or lotions are applied directly to the skin to relieve pain, soreness, or inflammation. They are non-psychoactive as they don’t enter the bloodstream.
- Sublingual (Under the Tongue): Drops or sprays under the tongue are absorbed by the mucous membranes and enter the bloodstream, providing quick effects.
Respect the Plant: Caution and Mindful Use
Cannabis has the potential to offer profound experiences, therapeutic relief, and a better understanding of our bodies. However, its usage should always be mindful and respectful. Start with small amounts, especially when trying a new strain or consumption method, and listen to your body. While side effects like dry mouth, red eyes, or temporary paranoia are common, more serious effects such as uncontrollable vomiting or psychosis are rare but possible, especially with high THC strains or in individuals predisposed to mental health disorders.
In conclusion, exploring cannabis and its interaction with our bodies is a fascinating journey with personal discoveries, scientific understandings, and cultural implications. Just as we are unique, so is our relationship with this ancient plant. As you explore the world of cannabis, I encourage you to remain curious, open-minded, and always respectful of this plant’s power.