It is no secret that cannabis makes you feel good. We have seen this depicted all over various forms of media for several decades. From every classic stoner movie featuring Seth Rogen’s infectious laugh to images of hippies sitting on the lawns of sprawling amphitheaters enjoying music, weed is shown as boosting the mood of everyone who partakes.
So what is the science behind cannabis that helps create these feelings of euphoria? Is it dopamine, or something else entirely? Can it really boost our moods, or is that just a myth? Let’s take a closer look!
For the past forty years, addiction scientists have collectively embraced one theory, and that’s the dopamine theory of addiction. This cites that all addictive substances and activities, across the spectrum (food, sex, substances), flood the limbic brain with a chemical called ‘dopamine’. Dopamine is one of the chemicals in our brains that plays a significant role in how we feel pleasure.
Because smoking weed is a pleasurable activity for many, it can contribute to the release of dopamine in some way. This would be similar to doing anything else you might enjoy, such as working out or watching your favorite sitcom.
Stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines do, in fact, trigger a flood of dopamine. Chronic or prolonged use of these substances can lead to the body’s inability to make its own dopamine, leading to addiction as well as other various mental health concerns.
However, this is not the same at all with cannabis.
The Bliss Molecule
Over thirty years ago, Dr. Rephael Mechoulam discovered a neurotransmitter within the brain called anandamide. This was also the very same doctor who first identified and synthesized THC. Appearing to produce a heightened sense of joy and happiness, anandamide has often been dubbed the ‘bliss molecule’.
Because it helps us feel pleasure, anandamide is often confused for or compared to dopamine. However, anandamide is responsible for more than just the bliss we feel in our bodies. This chemical also plays some serious roles in major bodily processes such as memory, motivation, pain, appetite, and even fertility. But because of its participation in the process of neurogenesis, which is the formation of new cells, anandamide is also an anti-anxiety and antidepressant agent.
Since THC and anandamide share similar properties, consuming cannabis can produce similar effects. Whenever you consume or ingest cannabis by smoking or vaping, it only takes a few moments for the THC to hit your brain and begin lighting up your brain’s neurons. Fitting together like a lock and key, a neurotransmitter binds to the correct receptor and signals your body to respond. With THC, it creates a sense of bliss. Chocolate, yoga, and running also are notable influences of anandamide, although they tend to be a little less powerful.
How does cannabis help?
Now that you know the science behind THC and cannabis, let’s take a closer look at exactly how cannabis can improve mood and mental health.
- Reduced anxiety: Anxiety is something that affects millions of Americans in varying degrees, and it causes our brain’s neurotransmitters to become overactive and fire off at inappropriate and inconvenient times. Cannabis can provide some relief for anxiety, as many of the chemical compounds present in cannabis have been proven to reduce the symptoms, both mentally and physically. CBD can work with the cannabinoid receptors in our brain to slow this process and leave us feeling calm and level-headed.
- Mood stabilizer: As we learned above, cannabis can help us feel heightened states of bliss and lightheartedness. However, studies have shown that it can do more than just temporarily boost moods, it can also help minimize mood swings and bring about overall mood stability. Cannabis can aid in the regulation of our brain’s neurotransmitters that can help us get better control of our emotions.
- Fights depression: Since cannabis boosts anandamide in our brains, it can also help to combat depression. Remember, anandamide isn’t just about bliss: it also aids with memory, motivation, fighting chronic pain, and more. When some of these issues are remedied, the better we feel, allowing us to better handle new, unideal situations as they pop up.
- Improved sleep: If there is one thing that can really eat away at a person’s mental health, it’s prolonged or chronic lack of sleep. Even just one night of poor rest can negatively influence your performance the next two days of school or work. Sleep is vital to the body, and without it, even basic tasks feel nearly impossible to complete.
Luckily, cannabis is a great solution for those who have difficulties sleeping, as it contains the properties necessary to relax the brain and muscles. If your anxiety is what keeps you up at night, this can also help twofold.
- Positive outlook: With all of the above concerns being addressed, it’s easy to see why cannabis has a positive influence over a broad spectrum of mental health issues. If your anxiety is reduced, your mood is stabilized, and your sleep is better, it would be difficult not to have a sunny disposition.
Here to Help
If you are an individual who struggles with some of the issues above and you want to find out more about which products can help you, be sure to pop into your local weed dispensary in Santa Ana or one of our many other locations.
Here at From The Earth, our staff is highly trained and extremely knowledgeable. We are ready to assist all varieties of customers in finding which products will suit their needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – we are here to help! Our goal is to create a laid-back and judgment-free environment that anyone can feel comfortable in.
If you are someone who prefers to shop online, be sure to check out our expansive online store! We also offer curbside pick up or even fast and free delivery. You don’t have to stay anxious or feel stuck in a rut with your mood. An all-natural aid is waiting at your local weed dispensary in Santa Ana!