With any interaction you’ve had with cannabis, whether through personal experience or through media, cannabis is known for its ability to get you high and make you feel good. Euphoria and bliss are the biggest and best known effects of cannabis, though the way it works is a little strange to newbie users.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that THC’s effect on our Endocannabinoid System activates the reward system in the brain, which includes the regions that respond to things we like, like food, sex, and drugs. NIDA explains that THC stimulates the neurons in these reward system to release more dopamine, which contributes to the euphoric, happy, and high feeling you experience when you consume cannabis.

However, cannabis isn’t considered an addictive drug even though it operates in a similar way, This is because in numerous human studies we’ve revealed that cannabis use only produces a small amount of dopamine, often 5 to 10 times less than often quoted. It doesn’t flood the brain with dopamine the same way that many other drugs and amphetamines do so scientists were perplexed by how cannabis creates such a unique mental effect.

After much study, science has ruled dopamine out of the euphoria equation and instead credits the bliss molecule known as Anandamide for the euphoric, uplifted, happy feelings brought about by cannabis use. Anandamide is a naturally-occuring chemical known as an endocannabinoid. We produce it naturally to promote balance within the body, where it aids in memory, motivation, movement, pain, fertility, appetite, neurogenesis, and cancer cell proliferation. However, it breaks down in the body pretty quickly.

Luckily, Anandamide has a twin that exists in cannabis. THC mimics this vital endocannabinoid and they both bind to the same receptors in our endocannabinoid system promoting euphoric effects as well as assisting in the other crucial body processes Anandamide plays a part in, making it a good choice for reducing anxiety and depression as well as reducing pain, increasing appetite, and helping the body to create more nerve cells.

Basically, THC is Anandamide’s twin. Anandamide is created within the body and THC is created in the cannabis plant and our body processes them both the same, allowing you to feel blissful euphoria and other body effects without altering the chemical balance of dopamine within your brain.

Our favorite way to describe this effect was outlined by Terry Nesco, author of “Marijuana and Sex: A Classic Combination” who wrote:

“Just as our bodies contain pleasure systems which reward us for sex; our brains contain neurocellular circuitry which can only be activated by substances with THC’s molecular structure. This makes the marijuana high a unique constellation of feelings, and there are only two sources for the substances which activate THC’s very own neuroreceptor. Our brain is one source: it generates a neurochemical very similar to THC, called anandamide…The only other source for this bliss-producing substance is the cannabis plant.”

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