August 27, 2008 4:37 AM   Subscribe

Cannabisfilter (haha) How would cannabis affect my Nerves and is it even a neurotoxin? How dangerous is it really? The internet gives me very split opinions on it..

Im not talking about withdrawal effects, but mainly what it does to your body while its being smoked.
posted by freddymetz to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
According to an extract here (Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in 2000), whether cannabis is a neurotoxin or just a neurointoxicant is something of an unknown, since studies often concentrate on a single chemical constituent (THC) and ignore the ways in which other cannabinoids modify its effect.

As to how dangerous it is, the simple reality of it is that it depends on you: your psychological and physical health and predisposition to certain conditions, the amount, type and quality of cannabis you use and the means by which you administer it.

Of course you're going to find a wide selection of views on the Internet; that's true of most things. You just have to gauge the likelihood that whoever you're listening to is trying to put a spin on the information they're giving you. So for instance you might want to give more crednece to reports of medical research being done outside the US.

Personally, I'd say that if you're in good general health and you're not using it to run away from your problems or responsibilities, a little recreational cannabis now and again isn't going to reduce your quality of life in any measurable way.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:05 AM on August 27, 2008

Nerves? Do you mean anxiety? If so, then yes cannabis is well-know for producing anxiety in many who take it. It has nothing to do with poison. It has everything to do with how your body processes the active ingredients. It can even cause panic attacks in some people.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:58 AM on August 27, 2008

It also reduces anxiety in many people. It depends very much on the individual; I had a friend in college who absolutely couldn't tolerate it because it made her so anxious and hyper. For the rest of us, though, the reaction was "typical": relaxed, giggly, eat-everything-in-the-house.
posted by rtha at 7:08 AM on August 27, 2008

posted by Tobu at 7:11 AM on August 27, 2008

In the UK, hash/resin/dope is far more common than weed (we don't have the climate to grow weed so it's easier to buy imported hash from Europe or Asia). Since the arrival of skunk about 15 years ago, the incidence of cannabis-related psychosis has apparently increased.

Since she started smoking skunk a couple of years ago, my sister has had several severe psychotic episodes (involving seriously delusional behaviour, hallucinations, self-harm, aggression) that have resulted in her ending up for a time in the acute locked ward of a mental hospital.
posted by essexjan at 8:15 AM on August 27, 2008

Here are some resources on marijuana that offer what is notably lacking in what has become the typical hysteria of reporting on marijuana in the UK: references.

Individuals with psychological problems frequently self-medicate. There is no question that use of psychoactive drugs can antagonize psychological problems. Both early drug experimentation and the onset of psychological problems cluster around adolescence/early adulthood. Marijuana is often focused on as the significant drug of abuse even when individuals are using multiple drugs. Study the evidence for yourself. Pay attention to references. The so-called "experts" on drugs that are the staples of the media are a very mixed bag, and anecdotes such as the one opening the media piece essexjan links to are meaningless.

Like all psychoactive drugs including all legal drugs like nicotine, alcohol and caffeine and prescription pharmaceuticals, marijuana is subject to abuse. But the cultural hysteria that surrounds it is scientifically baseless.
posted by nanojath at 9:21 AM on August 27, 2008

erowid is an excellent collection of information on drugs - a good place to start.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:08 AM on August 27, 2008

I would also recommend the marijuana section of Michael Pollan's book The Botany of Desire for a fascinating description of the interaction of humans and cannabis. Not quite what you were asking for, but very interesting reading.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2008

This experiment might be helpful.

Result: buy decent weed that doesn't only tout its THC levels.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 11:14 AM on August 27, 2008

Response by poster: thanks guys,

by nerves i mean actual nerves with synapses and all :D not anxiety!
posted by freddymetz at 1:05 PM on August 27, 2008

It's notable that the receptive sites in the brain that marijuana acts on were only recently discovered (in the early 90's) and as I understand it its mechanisms of action are still not fully understood. Descriptions of these mechanisms get pretty technical - far above my head anyway. This article might be useful. It seems pretty well grounded in actual scientific references.
posted by nanojath at 5:50 PM on August 27, 2008

It definitely is doing something to the synapses. In a Cox proportional hazards analysis of a study of first epileptic seizures in Harlem Hospital, NYC, ever-smokers (cannabis, I mean) were only 36% as likely to experience a first seizure as never-smokers. Those who had used cannabis frequently in the past but had abstained for at least 1 year still only were 54% as likely to experience a first seizure as never-smokers, suggesting that the prior heavy cannabis use had permanent or at least very long-lasting effects.

Anecdotally, I have encountered dozens of patients who use medical marijuana here in California as an adjunct to their mainstream anticonvulsant therapy. Most of them are like "Yeah, it gets me stoned, heh heh heh, but if I don't smoke it regularly I have more seizures!"

This is one of the most interesting studies in the literature, to me, but just try getting funding to explore it further. I'm told there was a great deal of difficulty even getting this finding published.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:05 PM on August 27, 2008

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