Marijuana is a part of the cannabis plant. Many people do not know it is not another name for the plant. Cannabis is the parent plant, and marijuana is a significant part. The same is true for hemp, and both parts are not entirely the same. Hemp contains lower amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. On the other hand, marijuana contains high amounts of the same compound.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most popular cannabis derivative after THC. It occurs more in hemp than in marijuana, and the compound helps treat many ailments. So far, medical marijuana is the only form that has been legalized. The reason is that appropriate authorities can control administration and dosage. Without the necessary supervision or permission, people can misuse it. However, can marijuana suppress your immune system?
What Research Says
There is proof that smoking marijuana can adversely affect the immune system. Smoking marijuana seems to have the most effect on the system, and it explains why such smokers become highly vulnerable to some infections and cancers, more so than non-smokers.
The drug contains chemicals that trigger the body to produce myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Typically, the immune system is the part of the body that fights off infections and disease-causing organisms. However, these suppressor cells pull the immune system back, preventing it from performing its core function.
A study carried out on mice showed the effect of THC on their immune system. Researchers injected a group of mice with the delta-9 compound and left another group without injecting them. The result was that the mice with THC showed an increase in the production of the suppressor cells, while the other group did not.
These cells are more evident in cancer patients than in any other group of people. It proves that they can trigger cancer growth in marijuana smokers, mainly because they usually multiply in large numbers. Another danger is that the suppressor cells may hinder therapy for cancer and increase the speed of the growth of cancerous cells.
There are two sides to the same coin regarding cannabinoids in marijuana. One side presents the benefits of these compounds. They effectively treat anxiety, relieve inflammation and pain, and treat various disorders.
Also, they have the potential to treat conditions that affect the immune system. In some cases, the suppression of the immune system is beneficial, and these suppressor cells come in handy. An example of such a condition is lupus.
On the other hand, these same cells can open the body to infections and leave it vulnerable to cancer. The body’s response depends on its needs, but there is no way of knowing how the cannabinoids will treat the immune system, at least not yet.
How Marijuana May Affect the Rest of Your Body
The compounds in marijuana usually do quick work of spreading throughout the body system. When you smoke marijuana, THC quickly flows into your bloodstream from the lungs. Smoking or vaping is one of the surest ways to get the effects of marijuana or hemp, making it popular among users.
Within several minutes of the compound reaching your bloodstream, your heart rate increases by at least 20 beats every minute. This pattern may continue to run for the next three hours. The increase in the need for more blood puts the heart at risk. If you already have problems with your heart, it worsens it.
That is why you find a regular smoker with bloodshot eyes. The reason is that the drug triggers the blood vessels to expand to accommodate more blood. That way, the heart has more blood to use. There is also a possibility that THC can reduce eye pressure and ease glaucoma symptoms. However, there is not much in the way of research to show whether or not it is correct.
Effect on the Digestive System
Prolonged and frequent use of marijuana may affect how the digestive system works. For one, it may cause your mouth and throat to sting and burn while smoking. Another possibility is promoting nausea and vomiting, which is paradoxical because the drug can also help reduce nausea ad vomiting.
Furthermore, regular marijuana use may increase your appetite, giving the popular ‘munchies.’ While eating more than you usually do may sound great for someone trying to gain weight, it is not for everyone. If you are trying to lose weight, it is not ideal because you may eat everything that looks good. Fortunately, you are not necessarily at risk of becoming obese or diabetic.
Effects on the Central Nervous System
Typically, the drug may help control seizures and spasms in people with epilepsy and other related conditions. These are all part of the central nervous system, and a functional one helps the body function better. However, it may also have adverse effects on the system in the long run.
THC works by triggering the release of dopamine in the brain. It is a chemical that makes you feel good; it is responsible for your happy moods and feelings. While it is a good thing, it may not work so well when it comes to addiction. It may explain the reason a significant percentage of marijuana users abuse it.
Its use may also affect how you process or retain information. Also, there may be a link between depression, anxiety, and prolonged use of marijuana. Furthermore, usage while pregnant can impair the developmental traits of the child. They may have difficulty concentrating, solving problems, or retaining information as they grow.
Additionally, marijuana use in large doses may affect the cerebellum and basal ganglia. If this happens, you may experience balance, reflex action, and coordination problems. It means that you may not be able to perform certain functions, including driving. Drinking and using marijuana worsens this issue.
Effects on the Respiratory System
Smoking generally releases toxic chemicals, including hydrogen cyanide and ammonia. These chemicals can build irritation in the lungs and the bronchial passage. If you smoke all the time, you are likely to cough and wheeze regularly.
You are even susceptible to infections in the lungs or bronchitis. Asthmatic people should keep away from smoking in general, not just smoking marijuana. However, nothing proves that smoking marijuana leads to lung cancer. Nevertheless, there is a need for more research.
Marijuana affects the immune system. It triggers the system to produce more suppressor cells, which may be ideal for some autoimmune disorders. However, these cells lower the immune system’s capacity to fight infections and diseases, including cancer.
Not only do they encourage cancer, but they may also prevent cancer therapy from working. Marijuana may not have this effect on occasional users, but it is likely to affect the immune system in regular users. The risk increases if they use it for a long time.
Nevertheless, marijuana has its benefits; it fights inflammation and pain and effectively treats epilepsy. People recovering from cancer find it helpful in managing pain and nausea while undergoing chemotherapy.