Just like alcohol legally alters your state of consciousness, cannabis does the same, but in a very different way.
When consumed, the THC compound interacts directly with CB1 receptors in the brain which can cause an altered state of consciousness.
This is commonly known as a ‘high’ feeling.
But what exactly is consciousness ? And how exactly does THC affect it. What’s happening when you’re “high”.
Defining exactly what consciousness is has challenged scientists for years…
Are there levels of being conscious ?
Are you more of less conscious when you’re drunk ?
Are you more or less conscious when you’re ‘high’
All tough questions which we’ll look to explore in this article…
What Does it Feel Like to Get ‘High’ on Cannabis
Speaking from personal experience, you’re environment has a huge impact on what it feels like to be high. You want to be somewhere that you’re comfortable.
Being high on a nature walk, will be a completely different experience that being high while playing video games.
Generally, being high feels like you have a heightened perception. You feel like there is space to think between you and your emotions.
You may feel relaxed or you may feel a flow of ideas, epiphanies, or breakthroughs in deeper understanding. You can also feel forgetful, the urge to laugh, and hungry afterwards.
Although everyone experiences cannabis differently, to a certain degree, consuming THC is similar to consuming alcohol, in the sense of having an altered state of consciousness.
But the effects are quite different.
Alcohol, in excess, reduces self-awareness resulting in an impaired sense of consciousness.
THC consumption, in excess, may result in over-awareness, which some people refer to as feeling paranoid.
However, those who practice meditation, yoga, or mindfulness rarely have this problem, as their minds are ‘strength trained’ against wandering thoughts and overthinking.
I personally use the feeling of being ‘high’ to meditate and facilitate deep thinking for problem solving.
THC is also used by many athletes to become more in-tune with their bodies during workouts.
Bruce Lee was a notorious cannabis user while practicing and perfecting martial arts.
Cannabis and Consciousness: THC vs. CBD
Both CBD and THC affect consciousness differently.
THC gets you ‘high’. CBD does not. But there’s a bit more to cannabis’s effect on consciousness than that…
THC and CBD are both compounds produced by the cannabis plant. These compounds are called Cannabinoids…
Cannabinoids are important because they interact with a network of receptors which are part of our Central Nervous System –
This network of receptors is known as the Endo-Cannabinoid System.
How does the endo-cannabinoid system effect consciousness?
CBD vs. THC: Interacting with the ENDO-CANNABINOID SYSTEM (ECS)
The Endo-Cannabinoid System is one of our most important internal bodily systems.
The ECS is responsible for maintaining balance in the human body. The endo-cannabinoid system works similar to a thermostat.
If the temperature in your house if too cold or too hot, the thermostat kicks on to normalize the temperature.
If anxiety, inflammation, or a pain response is activated in the body, the endo-cannabinoid system kicks on to normalize (or balance) the body’s response.
CBD vs. THC: INSIDE YOUR BODY
CBD and THC both interact (although differently) with two types of ‘endo-cannabinoid receptors’.
Cannabinoid Receptors Type 1 (CB1) – CB1 receptors are critical to our central nervous system and are most heavily concentrated in our brain and spinal cord.
Cannabinoid Receptors Type 2 (CB2) – CB2 receptors are concentrated in various parts of the immune system, the skin cells, and most internal organs.
Researchers have found that it’s THC’s interaction with the CB1 receptor that is responsible for the psychoactive ‘high’ feeling. Raising your conscious awareness.
Being ‘high’, much like being drunk, can result in an altered ‘state of consciousness’.
Both THC and CBD interact with the CB1 receptor.
But while THC fits directly into the CB1 receptor (causing a high feeling)…
CBD attaches to the CB1 receptor differently, which actually blocks THC from the receptor.
This is why some people take CBD after accidentally taking too much THC.
So when we’re talking consciousness and cannabis, we’re talking THC
THC, Consciousness, and Human Brain Connectivity
Researchers found that cannabis consumption over long periods of time increase brain connectivity.
According to ‘The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’,….
Researchers found that the brains of chronic marijuana users showed greater connectivity, which is generally a measure of how well information travels between different parts of the brain.
More connections could lead to deeper perspectives and a more efficient understanding of the world surrounding you.
The dictionary defines consciousness as “The state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.”
Based on our own research, we found that consciousness is the level to which you are self aware.
For example: A 6 year old kid’s level of awareness in comparison, is much less than the awareness of a self-made 52 year old billionaire female chemist.
When compared side by side, both the 6 year old kid and the 52 year old billionaire are conscious, but they have different levels of awareness of the world around them.
They are on different levels of consciousness.
The consciousness of the person who is more aware of their surroundings encompasses a deeper understanding and awareness of the world around them.
Cannabis heightens awareness and may temporarily increase your level of consciousness.
Conclusion: 4 Take-aways on Cannabis vs. Consciousness
Here’s what we do know about consciousness and cannabis…
- THC from cannabis fits directly into our naturally occurring CB1 receptors in the brain.
- It is this interaction that causes the ‘high’ feeling which may alter your state of consciousness (similar to feeling drunk but sort of the opposite)
- Aside from other findings, researchers found that long-term marijuana users had regions of “increased connectivity in the brain”.
- Scientists agree that there are levels of consciousness.
The state of consciousness when you consume THC is different for everyone…,
Experienced cannabis users learn to control their thoughts which helps curb paranoia and increase self awareness.
Others use Cannabis’s boost in creativity to think deeply about daily problems, struggles, and internal conflicts.
Cannabis also help people (myself included) to come up with simple and creative solutions to problems that may have been previously overlooked.
Cannabis is a tool, and when used correctly can unlock a deeper consciousness and understanding of yourself and your environment.
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