Is Marijuana good for your overall health?
It is a fact that marijuana, like tobacco can be very addictive as it raises the sodium level and make you feel more normal, as though you have good adrenal function.
The problem is that as our Adrenals become weakened more and more by the very substance that is causing us to be so tired, we crave it more and more, in order to provide that momentary relief from fatigue, pain or depression. Click here to read more about the adrenal gland.
Now, let's look at how marijuana affects the brain, according to Dr. Lawrence Wilson.
What Marijuana is and How it is Used
Pot can be smoked or added to common foods. Some people use it only occasionally at parties, for example. While many may believe it to be harmless, driving while stoned is at least five times more dangerous than driving without the drug. Others use it to self-medicate for feelings of anxiety, depression or irritability. Its low cost makes it, by far, the most widely abused drug in America today.
How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain?
The main active chemical in cannabis is THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. THC damages very sensitive cells of the brain related to perception and coordination. These are sometimes called cannabinoid receptor cells. This is a misnomer, however. The cells attacked by THC are just very delicate cells.
THC and other chemicals in the plant can reduce some pain, nausea and other symptoms by numbing the sensitive cells that record pain. This is the rationale for the legalization and use of “medical marijuana.” However, this does not change the fact that the drug is highly toxic to the brain.
Symptoms of brain damage from THC and other chemicals in marijuana Symptoms include distorted perception, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem-solving, and problems with learning and memory. The main impact wears off after a few hours; research indicates, however, that some adverse effects can last for days or weeks.
Long-term use of marijuana - Marijuana alters the brain in ways similar to that of other major drugs. For example, pot withdrawal in chronically exposed animals leads to an increase in the activation of the stress response system and changes in the activity of nerve cells containing dopamine. Dopamine neurons are involved in the regulation of motivation and reward.
The addictive potential of marijuana - Many claim that marijuana is not addictive. This is simply not true. Long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit report irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety and drug craving, all of which make it more difficult to stop. Some 6 percent of those who use marijuana will become addicted. This is about the same percentage of social drinkers who become alcoholics.
Marijuana and mental health - Many studies indicate an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and especially schizophrenia. The younger a person is at first use, the more likely his or her chance of developing a serious mental illness. This may occur because the brain is still developing and, therefore, most vulnerable to damage from THC and other chemicals in marijuana.
At the present time, the strongest evidence links pot smoking with schizophrenia. High doses of marijuana can produce an acute psychotic reaction. In addition, use of the drug may trigger the onset or relapse of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals.
Aspects of Marijuana Use on the Brain
Growth and development of the human brain should continue anywhere from age 30 to 40. However, the effects of marijuana retard the development of the finer brain centers. When this form of development does not occur on schedule, a person will not be able to function nearly as well in a complex modern society. This is the saddest aspect of marijuana use.
A person who uses pot even once a week is rarely aware of the destructive action of the drug, because he does not realize how much better he could function if his brain were not so affected.
Other Effects of Pot Smoking
Effects on the heart -Studies estimate that, as with cigarettes, marijuana smokers have a four-fold increase in heart attack risk in the first hour after smoking the drug. This may be due to an increased heart rate, as well as the effects of marijuana on heart rhythms, causing palpitations and arrhythmias. This risk is greater in aging populations or those with cardiac vulnerabilities.
Effects on the lungs - Marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Regular marijuana smokers show dysregulated growth of epithelial cells in their lung tissue.
A study of 450 individuals found that people who smoke marijuana frequently, but do not smoke tobacco, have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers. Many of the extra sick days among the pot smokers in the study were for respiratory illnesses.
Effects on daily life and society - Research shows that regular marijuana use reduces cognitive abilities. Several studies associate workers’ pot smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims and job turnover.
To read more about how drugs also affects the adrenal gland, click on the following:
Szalavitz, M, “The Link Between Marijuana and Schizophrenia,” Time, Jul. 21, 2010. www.time.com.
Many more references can be found at numerous sites, including www.keepazdrugfree.com/index/ and www.edgogek.com, which were used to prepare this article.
Dr. Lawrence Wilson has a medical degree and has been in the health field for more than 25 years.
Click Here to Read on Medicinal Marijuana | Good or Bad
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 4, Aug/Sept/2010.