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The Major Keys to Adherence: Marijuana

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

Before we delve into this, we must state that we do not promote the use of this substance as it is currently illegal in many locations. It is your choice and your choice only if you choose to partake in the use of marijuana.

The weed culture has certainly gained popularity in recent times and has made its way into the fitness world. But what does it do?

Marijuana contains over 400 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a cell signalling system in the body that was identified in the early 1990’s because of the exploration of the cannabinoid THC. This system is still undergoing research but so far, we know it plays a regulatory role in:

  • Sleep

  • Mood

  • Appetite

  • Memory

  • Reproduction and fertility

The ECS has three components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.

Endocannabinoids are molecules produced by your body that are like cannabinoids.

Receptors are found in the body and endocannabinoids bind to them to indicate that the ECS needs to act.

There are two main receptors in the body:

  • CB1, mainly found in the central nervous system

  • CB2, mainly found in the peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells

Endocannabinoids attach to either receptor. The resultant effect depends on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it attaches to.

Enzymes break down the endocannabinoid once they have carried out their function.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid that gets you “high”. Once ingested, it interacts with the ECS by binding to receptors. It can bind to both CB1 and CB2. It may help to reduce pain and stimulate your appetite, but it may also cause paranoia and anxiety.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the other major cannabinoid found in marijuana. Researchers are yet to find how CBD interacts with the ECS, but they do know it does not attach to a receptor in the way that THC does.

The method of consumption can also affect caloric intake and might influence food choice. But these studies concluded that it was down to the dosage and potency – greater dosage and potency lead to more appetite stimulation. Current evidence suggests that regular cannabis use promotes weight gain. In-fact, most of the side-effects are associated with frequency of use.

A study by Nicholson et al. (2004) tested the effects of THC and CBD on healthy adults. There were 4 different treatments and they all were given to everyone at different times. No one knew what they were receiving at the time. The treatments:

  • 15mg THC

  • 5mg THC + 5mg CBD

  • 15mg THC + 15mg CBD

  • Placebo

The outcomes measured were next-day cognitive performance and memory, mood, fatigue, sleepiness, and subjective sleep quality ratings. Sleep latency (the amount of time to fall asleep) was measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG). An EEG tracks and records brain wave patterns.

In comparison to placebo, when the individual received a combination of THC and CBD there was a decrease in stage 3 sleep time (the period of sleep that you need in order to feel refreshed in the morning) and an increase in wakefulness.

The CBD group also took longer to fall asleep than the THC group and the THC + CBD groups had no difference in sleep latency in comparison to placebo.

15mg of THC resulted in next day memory impairment and a decrease in sleep latency. So, it seems that THC decreases sleep latency while CBD increases that time and promotes wakefulness.

The research on marijuana is limited right now but from what has been produced we could conclude that frequency of use seems to be of most detriment to an individual. As always, remain accountable if you choose to use marijuana.


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