Marijuana, weed, Indian hemp, cannabis… ever heard any of those names? Yes, that’s the most popular illicit recreational and medicinal “drug” –it’s now legal in more than half the states in the US- that you can buy over the counter and inhale, drink, smoke or eat it in order to get high.
Then, there are others who swear by its pain relief and anti-nausea properties. This is why doctors sometimes, recommend its use to patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In spite of these obvious qualities, marijuana has a bad rep for being a drug that impairs cognitive functions and judgment. As a result, people who are caught driving under the influence of marijuana had better have a great reason for it or risk being charged with driving under influence.
As a very controversial substance, there are people who swear by its positive properties on the one hand, and others who say it does considerable damage to its users on the other hand. In fact, this is the only substance that has generated a lot of divisive opinions.
So, even though we could argue all day about its pros and cons, we’ll only be focusing on its role as a psychoactive substance and its cognitive enhancing capabilities in this guide.
This is even more important considering that there are studies indicating that people who start indulging in this drug at an early stage –in their teens really- can lose as much as 38 IQ points. Adults on the other hand, didn’t seem to suffer any form of decline in IQ.
Can You Get A Boost From Marijuana Nootropics?
The cognitive properties in marijuana seem to come from a particular compound called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolI (THC) readily found in the cannabis plant. This is the major active compound that’s responsible for the psychedelic effects.
Whether smoked as joints and blunts or through bongs and vaporizers, all of these methods do a great job of extracting the THC in the weed and delivers it directly to the bloodstream through the lungs.
Absorption however, is slower if chewed or drunk, thus slowing down the effects for about an hour. This way, the users don’t feel the effects until later when the THC hits the bloodstream and the effects kick in.
Please note: If you’re just about to start smoking hemp, you might want to go slow on your initial consumption rate seeing as the marijuana in circulation has significantly higher THC quantity than it used to have in the past.
Research shows that there’s probably four times more THC in the average joint these days than there was 10 years ago. Therefore, the risk of taking a little too much is pretty high. This is probably what necessitates the trip to the ER for many newbies.
How It Works As Cognitive Enhancer And In What Role
Possibility of Neurogenesis
This is just geek speak for developing new neurons and brain cells. There are studies linking the effects of cannabidiol that of a lesser known compound in marijuana called cannabichromene to the increased production of new neurons in your hippocampus, a part of your brain that plays a key role in your conscious memory as well as receives and processes information and aids navigation.
It makes sense that with new neurons formed, it is possible that it can help improve your brain’s ability to process information faster, make sounder decisions, improve logical reasoning capacity and enhance big picture visions.
So, it is possible that these compounds in marijuana can help lower your lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, depression and other conditions that may affect your cognitive capacities.
May Slow Down the Aging of the Brain
Truth be told, no marijuana user has ever won the world’s memory competition –at least none that we know of. But emerging studies are indicating the possibility of marijuana aiding slower brain aging, and maybe in the process, slowing down the progress of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
There are mentions of certain studies that point to its potential to reverse brain conditions that affect memory and other neurodegenerative disorders, although we haven’t found any. This is done courtesy of an antioxidation process where dead or damaged brain cells are “purged” from the grey matter and replaced with new ones.
Pseudoscience? Maybe. But, if it does hold the potential for this, then we just might be on track to reversing the deadly effects of dementia, Alzheimer’s and the less severe senility in senior citizens.
Improved Productivity and Performance
There are fitness enthusiasts, students and professionals who swear that they get a lot more done in the gym, school and office after smoking pot. This may be due to its ability to alter perceptions so you feel less pain in the gym, and increase motivation as well as focus during workouts and other tasks.
There hasn’t been any cogent study or research about this. These effects are largely reported by regular individuals who have benefited from smoking a particular amount. Please understand that as with all things, the inordinate consumption of weed in whatever form is bound to reverse your ability stay focused.
There’s also a study in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology that indicates that students who used marijuana performed better at verbal fluency and the rate of processing information.
There is also the possibility of increased interactions between the right and left brain, which probably improves the creative aspects of the brain, resulting in finely tuned and enhanced creativity among artistes and entertainers.
Maybe this is why musicians, actors, performers, writers, artistes and entertainers who smoke some weed once in a while tend to become inspired, produce even better music, perform exceptionally well and write better scripts for movies.
In fact, songs praising the potency and inspiring qualities of mary jane aka weed/marijuana have been written and performed countless times in history. Maybe these artistes are on to something, no?
Possibility of Increased Sense of Well Being
Marijuana is well known for its relaxing, anti-stress properties. It is capable of elevating your moods, lowering your stress levels, and providing a sense of well-being.
This is why you will often find people who smoke or ingest pot in controlled amounts, unperturbed by issues and problems. Interestingly, they are also able to better provide solutions because they are frequently in a creative state.
Shield the Brain from Chronic Stress
Our lives are filled with stressful activities. Whether it’s from work, running the home, or commuting, there’s considerable stress everywhere, and it’s ruining the quality of our lives.
The new free economy and capitalism may have made more people wealthy and financially comfortable, but it has done nothing for their overall state of well-being. As a result, we have more emotionally unstable people everywhere.
The sad thing is many people’s brains have become wired differently because of the huge stress they undergo on a daily basis. Naturally, there are more anxious and depressed people in the world.
In fact, stress has been linked to the decrease in life expectancy as well as the soaring rates of panic attacks, depression, and mental instability seen across the globe.
The good news is that marijuana may be able to help put you in a state of mind where you’re still fully functional but completely “jelled out”. It helps with protecting your brain from the associated damage that stress and anxiety does to the brain, and improving your mental health.
Improves Short Term Memory
Studies have shown that when THC is ingested in controlled or small amounts, they can cause a significant improvement in short term memory. This study was carried out on rats that were given small amounts of the cannabinoid on a daily basis.
The results showed that the rats there were exposed to these small amounts showed greater learning ability and significant improvement in remembering where certain items were.
Maybe this explains why students who take weed in very small, measured amounts while preparing for exams seem to enjoy better memory and subject matter recall than those who have similar mental capacities, but don’t smoke or ingest weed. While these reports may be subjective, its frequency of occurrence makes it worthy of more investigation.
May be a Possible Cure for Certain Brain Cancers
The diagnosis of brain cancer is often synonymous with death given that it’s one of the cancers with the highest death rates in the world. This is largely because of the brain/body barrier.
You see, with other cancers, you might be able to slow down their progression or even wipe them out completely because they are located from the neck downwards. These drugs however, are often unable to pass on to the brain.
This is why the only treatments for brain cancers right now are surgery and radiotherapy –both of which don’t really have high success rates.
However, there are emerging indications that cannabinoids which can already pass through the brain/body barrier, may be able to fight some types of brain cancers, owing to its potent anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown THC’s capacity to shrink tumors and increase the survival rate of cancer patients.
Please understand however, that patients who are looking to try this option as part of their cancer treatment protocol would do well to become adequately informed of the effects as well as consult with a doctor and adhere to the recommended dosages.
Side Effects of Marijuana
Among those who consistently use it for cognitive enhancement, there is the question of dosage. It would appear that there is no universal dosage that can be administered. It’s largely contingent on guesswork, previous exposure to the drug, and the maxim that “less is more”.
If there’s a recurring trend, it is that when taken in little quantities –although this is relative- users can get better cognition, enjoy an increased state of creativity, improve their problem solving capabilities, enhance their productivity and prolong their focus.
Possibility of Taking Too Much Edibles
The problem with edibles is that it takes longer to get into your bloodstream –usually 30 to 60 minutes. So, there’s the tendency to take more than you should because you aren’t feeling the effects immediately.
Of course, this leads to an altered reality, cognitive dysfunction, temporary mental and memory impairment, suspended inhibitions and poor judgment calls. So, slow down on the edibles.
Impaired Cognitive Functions
Taking excess weed can lead to psychotic breakdown, hallucination, lowered inhibitions, memory flashbacks, indulging in anti-social activities, memory impairment and lapses, panic and anxiety, numbness, altered sense of reality, poor judgment calls, rash decisions, depression, blood pressure problems, poor muscular and cognitive coordination among other things.
This is why people are advised to never operate heavy machinery while under the influence of marijuana and other psychedelic drugs.
Increased Risk of Addiction
This is probably as a result of the higher amounts of THC in the herb these days. So, people who frequently expose themselves to this drug will most likely, find it harder to withdraw, making addiction easier.
The best way to prevent this is to control your exposure to marijuana. As much as possible, ensure that that you only take it occasionally. Consistent and daily usage isn’t encouraged as this will cause you to become dependent on higher doses to get your “hit”, which will in turn, fuel your addiction.
Real Risk of Bronchitis
Most people –young individuals really- tend to smoke weed. Do this for years and you could develop bronchitis. Luckily, this has been mitigated by vapors and other non-smoking options such as teas and edibles.
This is possible through the extraction or infusion of THC as against inhaling the smoke. This means that you can still get your high without necessarily doing any damage to your precious lungs.
How to Get the Best Results from Taking Cannabis
Taking marijuana should be done with caution. Ultimately, the effects are different and diverse for everyone. Some people only need two puffs to start enjoying the cognitive benefits of the herb, while others need to take way more.
So, do the smart thing and start small. Don’t go all gung-ho on your first few puffs. Getting to the point where you can consistently take it to enhance your cognitive abilities takes practice and experience.
We don’t want you becoming addicted and then having to fight off that beast. It’s unnecessary. Moderation is always key. Remember this and you will enjoy the superb cognitive benefits of marijuana.