2016-05-18 13:39:23

Too Much of a Good Thing – Smoking and Vaping

In places where cannabis is legal to use for medicinal or recreational purposes in the United States, and as easy as carrying around a portable vaporizer is to get high, the conversation is shifting from fear of the plant to a discussion about its overall safety and long lasting side effects. It has been found to have numerous medical benefits, but scientists are learning that smoking or using a cannabis vaporizer too often can deplete dopamine, leading to long term effects to the user, such as a reduction in problem-solving skills, a decreased memory function, and shorter attention span.

Dopamine, the natural chemical in question, is responsible for what is known as the brain's "reward center" and gets released during pleasurable activities such as drug ingestion, eating delicious foods, listening to beautiful music, or having sex. Dopamine is believed to be the reason many drugs are so addictive, as you fall in love with that intense dopamine dump.

New Findings Show: Regular Cannabis Use Can Cause a Dopamine Imbalance

Photo: thebrain.mcgill.ca

However, you know what they say--too much of a good thing is, in fact, a bad thing. Research suggests that releasing too much dopamine too often from excessive use of cannabis, either in a dry herb vaporizer or smoking it, results in a dopamine imbalance. This means that the dopamine is distributed less and less to other parts of the brain, such as the striatum, which is responsible for cognitive function.

With lower concentrations in necessary parts of the brain, it becomes a vicious cycle of smoking more THC, the chemical that triggers dopamine production, to get those levels back to normal, while simultaneously tipping the balance of that all too precious dopamine.

Dopamine Imbalance is the main role in the brain's reward system

Studies have been done to see if there truly is a correlation. Recently the medical journal, Molecular Psychiatry, published results of a study that showed users who are dependent on cannabis did exhibit lower dopamine levels compared to those who do not smoke or vape cannabis. The study was inconclusive, however, saying that they, "cannot show a casual relationship" between cannabis and depletion of dopamine, as they couldn't be sure whether or not there was already a deficit in existence with the test subjects beforehand.

Take that as you will, but there is still no definite correlation between the two. We do know cannabis can play a part in this, but so can too much of a good thing, like sex or cake. Anything can turn into a dependency that has a negative result, and it is important, like everything else, that you use your medical weed vaporizer, and especially your concentrated dab vaporizer in moderation, and/or as your doctor proscribed.

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Reference: iflscience | EurekAlert | rcpsych