Most of us are familiar with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis that gets us high. But along with making us feel happy, THC offers many well-researched and widely touted benefits. THC can reduce anxiety, relieve pain and inflammation, control nausea and vomiting, enhance appetite, relax tight muscles, improve sleep, and even target cancer cells. But how does it work?
Research indicates THC acts primarily on receptors in our brain and central nervous system, affecting various functions, including our sense of pleasure, pain, sleep, appetite, and more. In short, THC speaks our brain’s language. THC works the same regardless of how we ingest it, but many people prefer gummies due to their delicious flavors and long-lasting effects.
Here we’ll explore how THC works in the brain, its benefits and risks, and why many people prefer THC gummies over smoking. But before you do, you may want to consider buying edibles Canada products from a mail order dispensary. Usually, these shops have tons of edible options based on your preference.
How THC Works in the Brain
Our brains seem to work magically to help us move, think, and remember things throughout the day. But the reality is that brain cells, called “neurons,” communicate with each other through messenger cells to help us perform these tasks. Known as “neurotransmitters,” these messenger cells form after chemical signals bind to receptors located on neurons, activating this communication network.
Interestingly, THC acts like our body’s natural signaling chemicals, binding to endocannabinoid receptors in the brain called CB1. This binding action forms neurotransmitters that travel from neuron to neuron, triggering brain functions related to behavior, mood, coordination, and more.
Specifically, THC affects the brain in the following ways:
- Increase dopamine, a chemical that boosts mood, motivation, and attention and helps regulate movement, learning, and emotional responses
- Alter activity in awareness- and anxiety-related brain networks
- Increase blood flow to the brain
- Decrease brain activity in areas related to impulse control
THC’s Brain-Activating Benefits
Research shows that most people use cannabis to enhance their quality of life. Because cannabis has little risk for physical addiction, most of us can consume THC in moderation to relax, concentrate, sleep better, or make activities more enjoyable.
A few THC benefits include
- Euphoria: THC makes us feel “high” by, in part, increasing cerebral blood flow. Within 20 minutes, the circulatory system carries THC molecules to every tissue in the body, including the brain, where it can alter neural chemistry.
- Mood Elevation: When THC hits brain cells, it causes them to release dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical.
- Appetite Stimulation: THC stimulates the production of a hormone called ghrelin, which acts on the appetite centers in the brain to stimulate hunger.
- Sleep Support: THC increases sleep-promoting adenosine levels and suppresses the brain’s arousal system.
Risks of THC
When used in moderation, THC in cannabis has little risk. However, THC affects everyone differently, and sometimes taking too much can result in adverse reactions. For example, excessive marijuana use can impair short-term memory, slow reaction times, and cause paranoia in some users. A few of THC’s main risks include:
- Short-term memory issues: THC alters how the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for memory formation, processes information. This action can affect short-term memory over time.
- Anxiety: When the brain suddenly receives more cannabinoids than usual, it may overstimulate the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls fear and anxiety. This effect occurs more often in new users or those who consume too much.
- Impulsivity: Studies of THC use report increased brain metabolism—which controls the processes that inhibit brain activity—in several brain regions during impulsivity tasks.
It’s important to dose with caution and avoid excessive use over long periods to reduce these risks and take advantage of THC’s incredible benefits.
THC Gummies and the Brain
Smoking cannabis is by far the most widespread THC consumption method. However, many people prefer THC gummies over flower because the body processes edibles in a way that creates an entirely distinct psychoactive experience.
When we smoke cannabis, THC enters the bloodstream immediately via the lungs and goes to the brain within minutes. On the other hand, when we eat THC gummies, the liver must absorb and partially metabolize the THC before it enters the bloodstream and makes its way to the brain.
As the liver digests THC, metabolic enzymes modify and break it down into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which is more potent than the original. Smoked marijuana also creates this byproduct; however, the body produces far more 11-hydroxy-THC after oral administration.
This process leads to several benefits of consuming THC gummies.
- Edibles last longer than smoking, peaking about 2-4 hours after taking them.
- They give a more intense, full-body effect.
- Gummies taste yummy and are easier to control the dosage
- Many THC gummies today contain legal amounts of delta-9 THC.
Gummies are especially ideal for those of us who need their long-lasting effects to help us sleep better or relieve chronic pain. Fortunately, we can shop delta 9 strawberry gummies online and find various options to support our wellness goals.
The Bottom Line
THC works because it mimics our bodies’ natural neurotransmitters. Specifically, it binds with CB1 receptors in our brains, allowing it to affect how our bodies and minds function. Although there are some mild risks, cannabis isn’t addictive and offers many potential benefits, from euphoria to pain relief, appetite enhancement, anxiety relief, and more. THC in any form delivers powerful benefits, but gummies provide the most intense, long-lasting experience due to how the body processes them.