Have you ever looked at your hands? Have you looked at a pencil? A table or a door? Surely you think so, but have you really looked at them carefully? At first glance they are mundane, basic objects that have nothing special, but the truth is that people who are high on cannabis perceive these objects in a much more fascinating way usual.
How is it that a plant, which first emerged on what is now the Tibetan plateau, can change humans’ perception of reality? The secret lies in a class of compounds called cannabinoids.
While cannabis plants are known to produce at least 140 types of cannabinoids, there is one that is largely responsible for many of the effects of feeling high: the tetrahydrocannabinol or TCH.
When a person smokes or inhales cannabis, the THC enters the lungs and is absorbed into the blood. Generally, foodstuffs travel through the liver, where enzymes transform TCH into a different compound it takes a little longer to affect people’s perception of reality.
On the contrary, if THC is inhaled, this reaches very high levels fairly quickly. In this way, in 20 minutes, the circulatory system transports THC molecules to all tissues of the body, including the brain, where it can alter neural chemistry.
THC molecules that cross the blood-brain barrier will find that fit perfectly on receptors that normally receive compounds called endocannabinoids, which the body produces by itself.
These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in various functions, such as stress, food intake, metabolism, and pain. In fact, this system is the most generalized, diffuse and important modulator system of the brain, since controls the release of virtually all neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are molecules that brain cells, or neurons, use to communicate with each other. A neuron send a message to the following, releasing neurotransmitters, such as dopamine or serotonin, in an infinitesimal space that separates one neuron from the next. This gap is called synapse.
When TCH enters the brain, molecules diffuse into the synapse where they activate CB1 receptors. In this way, THC does not cause the most extreme response possible like some synthetic cannabinoids, such as KD or spices, but it does increase the volume. and increases the likelihood that the affected presynaptic neuron will stop sending neurotransmitters temporarily.
Thus, euphoria is a very simple phenomenon: THC arrives and floods the endocannabinoid system with signals that the postsynaptic neurons did not send. When you are, through the brain, they get the memo to stop sending neurotransmitters, this disrupts the normal flow of information between neurons and produces a high.
However, scientists have yet to figure out exactly what happens during this euphoria. What they do know, so far, is that THC seems Temporarily “disconnect” the network by default. This is the brain’s network that allows us to daydream and think about the past and future.
When our brains are concentrate on a specific task, we silence this network to allow our executive function to take control.