Marijuana is generally an easy to consume herb that is uplifting, relaxing and inspiring, yet it’s known to come with a few side effects. There are a handful of side effects of marijuana that are commonly experienced by most users. While the symptoms may be odd and even somewhat embarrassing, they are basically harmless. The very typical side effects of marijuana are cottonmouth, the munchies and red eyes; all things that are commonly experienced even without consuming marijuana, but often not all at the same time. Each symptom has a rational explanation and only lasts for a couple of hours. In some cases, these side effects of marijuana are actually health benefits for various illnesses too.
Red Eyes: Unattractive But Beneficial for Glaucoma
In American pop culture, red eyes are often portrayed as a telltale sign that marijuana has been consumed. Yet one of the most beneficial health benefits of marijuana is the underlying cause of this marijuana side effect: THC, one of the main active ingredients in marijuana, known to produce the euphoric high associated to the herb. It has also been known to reduce blood pressure. A reduction in blood pressure is immensely important to health. It can decrease the likelihood of heart attack and other cardiovascular disorders and it can also help to relieve pressure in the head.
While bloodshot eyes can give the impression of pressure in the head, in actuality, it is a lack of pressure in the head that causes the problem. Studies indicate that marijuana reduces eye pressure by up to 25 percent. This reduced pressure, in turn, allows the little veins in the eyes to expand, increasing blood flow and ultimately making the eyes look red. In truth, this unattractive side effect of marijuana is the reason it is so beneficial for a variety of eye problems. In particular, it is why it is so beneficial for glaucoma.
This embarrassing side effect can be dealt with easily by using simple eye drops purchased from the drug store, such as Clear Eyes. A few drops in each eye can drastically reduce the problem, allowing you to go out into the world without everyone knowing your business while you maintain a clearer healthier glow. Foods such as caffeine and chocolate are also known to constrict the blood vessels which also helps to reduce the effect as they counteract the effects of the THC. Alternatively, you can simply wait it out. Red eyes will go back to normal within a couple of hours.
Cotton Mouth: Get the Crushed Ice, Chewing Gum, and Mustard
The dry mouth feeling and thirst that sets in after consuming cannabis is known as cotton mouth. It can be an extremely uncomfortable side effect of marijuana that can leave a person feeling a little constricted, sticky and dry in the mouth. Cotton mouth was a mysterious side effect of cannabis until recently. Researchers at the University of Buenos Aires have gotten to the bottom of the phenomena to discover the root cause of the cotton mouth problem. As it turns out, THC affects the body’s endocannabinoid system. There are 2 submandibular glands under the floor of the mouth that produce 70 percent of the saliva in the mouth. These glands both have CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. When THC enters the blood stream, it binds itself to the cannabinoid receptors in the body.
Usually, these glands send messages to the brain, propelling the body to produce saliva. When THC interacts with these receptors, the messages are stopped. In fact, THC doesn’t just bond to the receptors on the submandibular glands, it also bonds to the receptors in the brain. Once again this side effect is also proof of the many benefits marijuana has on the body. Researchers are investigating ways to use this aspect of THC to help patients with salivary disorders. Like the other side effects mentioned, it is only temporary and causes no harm. On the contrary, it is an action of THC that could go to helping many people who suffer from salivary conditions.
There isn’t really a great cure for cotton mouth. Some people recommend eating crushed ice or chewing gum. Both of these actions stimulate the production of saliva. Mustard is a spice that can also stimulate saliva up to 8 times. In its pure herbal form, it can be added to food or even made as a tea to help stimulate saliva if cotton mouth is presenting itself to be an issue for you. Drinking water also helps but, ultimately, cotton mouth is a side effect that will just pass on its own in a short amount of time.
Munchies: The Most Complex of the Side Effects of Marijuana
It wouldn’t be a list of side effects of marijuana if munchies weren’t mentioned. This side effect is a well-known one, yet the causes of it are manifold and somewhat complex. Once again the cannabinoid receptors in the brain play a large role. These receptors, when triggered by the ingestion of cannabis, propel an area of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens to release dopamine, the hormone responsible for desire and pleasure. Dopamine produces an automatic feeling of happiness and can awaken the desire for food and sex. On top of this, another hormone called ghrelin is released by the hypothalamus gland, provoking a sense of hunger.
Another interesting and important discovery associated to the munchies involves smell. A study conducted by a team of European neuroscientists, published in Nature Neuroscience in 2013, discovered an interesting cause of this side effect. They found that THC fits into receptors in the brain’s olfactory bulb, causing a significant increase in our ability to smell. The researchers conducted studies on mice, examining the effects of THC on appetite and they found that the increase in smell caused the animals to crave food. Smell and taste are closely linked in the brain.
All of these factors add to the cause of munchies that many experience after consuming marijuana. Once again, this appetite stimulant is helpful in many medical situations, including helping AIDS and cancer patients recover and maintain their appetite through treatment.
As you can see, the side effects of marijuana can be a little annoying, but they’re actually harmless reactions that can even be medicinally beneficial. They are all short-lived, temporary symptoms that will pass within a short period after consuming marijuana. So the next time you reach for the doobie, have your eye drops and cup of ice ready!