Like most other medications that people misuse, THC stimulates neurons in the reward system to release dopamine, the signaling chemical, at levels higher than those normally seen in response. The THC high comes from a chemical substance called dopamine. The brain releases dopamine to reward us for behavior that, historically, has improved our chances of survival.
Cannabishas a nuanced effect on the dopamine system.
While THC initially increases levels of this happiness hormone, things change with chronic use. Burning too much, too often, can weaken the dopamine system. Learn the details and how to use cannabis in a way that benefits your brain's reward system. Short-term marijuana use is known to increase dopamine in the brain indirectly.
While the cannabinoids contained in marijuana do not act directly on dopamine neurons, they do act on the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which temporarily suppresses GABA inhibitors. GABA neurons are neurons that inhibit dopamine production; when suppressed, dopamine production increases. Cognitive and psychomotor effects in men after smoking a combination of tobacco and cannabis containing up to 69 mg of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There have been several molecular imaging studies of dopaminergic function in human cannabis users.
The main active ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), resembles chemicals naturally produced in the brain, called cannabinoids. Although dopamine is known as one of the main neurotransmitters involved in addictions, many disagree on how to treat dopamine dysregulation clinically to prevent and treat addictive disorders, including cannabis use disorder (CUD). Similarly, in two separate studies, cannabis users showed a reduction in dopamine release due to a stimulating challenge, which was inversely related to the severity of cannabis use70 and cognitive deficits, including poor working memory. THC alters the retrograde signaling systems of finely tuned endocannabinoids due to the neuronal specificity of endocannabinoids versus THC.
But how do you do it? THC, the main psychotropic component of cannabis, effectively mimics 2-AG. This is especially important given the emerging evidence that dopaminergic alterations are related to a number of the adverse cognitive and behavioral consequences of THC, and the lack of effective biological interventions today for many of the psychiatric sequelae of cannabis use. So, you know that THC affects the dopamine system by mimicking our endocannabinoids, but it's not the only cannabinoid that causes changes in the reward system. This disconnect could be a key mechanism underlying cannabis addiction, says Raúl González, a neuropsychologist at Florida International University in Miami, who was not involved in the research.
THC has been linked to the rewarding aspects of cannabis and to inducing symptoms of mental illness and cognitive decline. These studies have examined the effect of acute THC on dopamine in humans with previous exposure to cannabis in vivo. In the past, chronic use of low-potency cannabis (2— 4% of Δ9-THC) was not associated with significant neuroanatomical alterations, psychosis or even depression. Functional neuroimaging techniques, such as resting functional magnetic resonance imaging (RSFMRI), have demonstrated that acute exposure to cannabis reduces neuronal activity in the nucleus accumulbens (NaC) and prefrontal cortex (PFC), the anterior cinculate gyrus (ACG), the striatum and the thalamus.
Carriers of the 7R DRD4 polymorphism are likely to experiment with cannabis more than non-carriers. The effects of cannabis on dopamine vary depending on certain variables, including frequency and quantity. .
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