While cannabinoids, or marijuana, are normally taken for their sedative, relaxing effects, there are some additional unwanted side effects of the substance.
Cannabinoids Side Effects
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Cannabinoids, more commonly known as marijuana, have been the topic of much debate across the U. S., as the medicinal versus harmful properties of these substances come under review. Cannabinoids carry both analgesic and addictive effects, making the drug an effective treatment for conditions involving pain while at the same time placing users at risk of abuse and addiction.
Whether used for medicinal or recreational purposes, cannabinoids can produce side effects that become increasingly harder to overlook with time. As with any potentially addictive drug, these side effects develop out of the body’s growing dependency on the drug. With long-term use, addiction side effects start to surface as both the mind and the body start to depend on cannabinoid effects.
Cannabinoids consist of a group of organic compounds derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. One of these compounds is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinil, better known as THC. THC produces the “high” effects commonly associated with marijuana use. Marijuana “highs” stem from THC’s psychoactive effects on certain chemical processes within the brain.
Another compound, known as cannabidiol or CBD, produces the drug’s analgesic effects. CBD compounds also carry anti-inflammatory properties. Unlike the THC compound, cannabidiol does not produce a “high” effect.
According to the National Cancer Institute, different batches or strains of marijuana can contain varying levels of each compound, which in turn determines the overall effects the drug will have. As a group, cannabinoids work directly within the central nervous system and alter the way the brain communicates with various systems throughout the body.
Physical Withdrawal Side Effects
Cannabinoids bear a strong resemblance to anandamide, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. Anandamide exists as one of several chemicals within the brain’s endocannabinoid system. This system plays a central role in regulating movement, pleasure, memory and thinking functions throughout the brain and body.
With ongoing use, the brain comes to rely on cannabinoid effects. The strong similarities between the drug and the brain’s own chemicals creates a tolerance effect where drug amounts must be steadily increased in order to produce the same desired drug effects.
When needed drug amounts are lacking, physical withdrawal side effects develop. Physical withdrawal effects typically appear as:
- Sleep problems
- Feelings of anxiety
- Hot flashes
With long-term use, physical withdrawal effects increase in severity and type. Signs of severe physical withdrawal include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Feelings of depression
Addiction Side Effects
Addiction to any drug happens over time as the drug’s effects work to alter brain processes and functions. Cannabinoids work in the same way. As THC compounds account for the drug’s addictive potential, the higher the THC concentration the more potential for addiction.
Since addiction entails both a mental and physical dependency, cannabinoid addiction side effects become most apparent within a person’s behaviors and life circumstances.
According to the Rochester Institute of Technology, addiction side effects may include:
- Uncharacteristic risk-taking
- Money problems
- Neglecting relationships with friends and family
- Neglecting work responsibilities
- Developing a new “group” of friends or acquaintances
- Only happy or content when “high”
Overall, cannabinoids exert a cumulative effect on a person’s mental processes and ability to function in everyday life. While the medicinal benefits can definitely serve some good, the drug’s addictive potential should not be ignored.