Five Possible Side Effects of Marijuana Use (and How to Remedy Them)
Marijuana contains chemicals called cannabinoids that affect the central nervous system. The herb’s effect on our nervous system and certain receptors is the reason why it is effective as a treatment for conditions ranging from chronic pain to nausea. However, because of the way it works in the body, marijuana can also have some side effects that patients find troubling. Here are five possible side effects of medical marijuana and what you can do to remedy them. Is It Possible To Overdose On Marijuana?
Disorientation or Dizziness
Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is a chemical compound in marijuana and the part of the herb that is linked to the euphoric ‘high’ most people feel when they use the herb. Though THC can be instrumental in treating some medical conditions, it can also cause unwanted symptoms. One of the most common is dizziness, which is most likely due to the drop in blood pressure that THC triggers in the body. When you try to stand or sit up too quickly after consuming marijuana, you may experience mild to extreme dizziness that lasts a few seconds to a few minutes.
Slowed Reaction Time
Cannabis can be an excellent way to relax, especially for those who are experiencing anxiety-related conditions such as PTSD or generalized anxiety disorder. However, these same relaxing effects can also have an impact on reaction times to multiple forms of stimuli. While this might not make much difference if you plan to relax at home with a movie or friends, it can become an issue if you attempt to drive, operate heavy machinery, or engage in complex problem-solving tasks.
Dry or ‘cotton’ mouth is frequently reported by those who use medical marijuana. The dry mouth effect is due to the cannabinoid receptors that are located in the submandibular glands that are responsible for producing most of our saliva. When the THC binds to these receptors, the glands stop receiving messages to produce saliva and cause the dry mouth effect.
While this is not an extreme symptom, it can be uncomfortable. It’s recommended that those who use medical marijuana keep themselves well hydrated with plenty of filtered water before, during, and after their dosage.
Increased Heart Rate
Those who smoke marijuana can experience a heart rate increase of 20 to 100 percent for up to three hours after their dosage. THC is a vasodilator, which makes causes blood vessels to expand and lowers blood pressure. To compensate for the lowered blood pressure, the heart will often speed up. Though a small increase in heart rate is normal and should not cause patients much distress, some individuals experience an intense increase that is frightening and could put them at risk for a heart attack. This usually happens in cases where the THC levels were too high or the patient had a pre-existing heart condition.
Marijuana is often used to reduce anxiety and calm patients who experience mood disorders or panic attacks. However, large doses of THC may have the opposite effect and induce paranoia and anxiety in some patients. Though researchers have no definitive answer to why certain individuals may experience this, a combination of genetics, personality, and how a person consumers the drug are thought to play a part. Using strains of cannabis that are high in THC or taking too much of the drug can also increase chances of anxiety.
How to Manage Marijuana Side Effects
Fortunately, most side effects of medical marijuana are much less dangerous than those of traditional prescription drugs and can often be managed through simple changes. Here are a few tips to reduce negative side effects and help you better enjoy the medicinal properties of cannabis.
Know your limits It’s important to know how you react to marijuana in different concentrations. The average concentrations of THC in marijuana range from one to five percent, with some strains having a concentration of up to 17 percent. If you are new to using medical marijuana, start with the lowest concentration and monitor your reaction before using anything stronger. You should also know how much you can smoke or ingest at a time to achieve the desired results without the negative side effects.
Don’t panic It’s important not to panic when experiencing marijuana side effects. Though they may be troubling, especially if you are new to using the herb, they normally subside within a few hours (some within minutes) and leave no lasting negative impact. To date, there have been no known lethal overdoses of marijuana, so it’s important to realize that rest and relaxation will almost always relieve any side effects.
Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery Many of the normal side effects of marijuana use impact an individuals reaction times, alertness, and ability to respond to stimuli. For these reasons, it’s important to avoid driving and operating heavy machinery after a medical marijuana dose, especially as you get used to how the drug affects you. You may also want to avoid taking marijuana when you need to concentrate on a highly detailed task or when you will be in a situation where you can’t rest or relax.
Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol Marijuana can affect the salivary glands and cause you to experience dry mouth, which is why adequate hydration is recommended. Individuals should also avoid drinking alcohol while they are using medical marijuana. Alcohol can produce many of the same side effects, therefore compounding them and making them even more troublesome.
Try black peppercorns Due to the connection between THC and the terpenoids found in plants such as pepper, smelling or chewing black peppercorns may be an effective remedy for marijuana-induced anxiety. Researchers are still studying this connection, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that this common household item could have a positive effect. Sniffing black peppercorns could provide immediate relief from symptoms while chewing them could produce relief within an hour.
The benefits of medical marijuana could be lifesavers for those living with chronic pain, anxiety, or a host of other conditions. Though side effects are possible, they are almost always less severe than those associated with most prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Knowing your limits and finding dosages that work best for you are the keys to experiencing the benefits of marijuana without the negative side effects. If you have questions about how to use marijuana for medicinal purposes or how to get your medical marijuana card online, please sign up and get all your answers from our licensed medical marijuana doctors! Sign up online at www.zenmd.net