What happens to your senses when you use cannabis.
If you have ever smoked cannabis, you are aware of the significant effects that marijuana may have on our perception of the world that surrounds us. The majority of folks simply require a few puffs to start seeing these shifts in their body. A music that you have listened to several times suddenly takes on a new level of complexity, and a harmony that has always been present in the background suddenly becomes the focus of your attention. Additionally, cannabis gives landscapes, sunsets, and woodland vistas a sense of depth, resulting in a shimmering aesthetic that nearly gives the impression of high definition (at least for some people). Naturally, we must discuss taste at some point if we are going to broach the subject of cannabis and the senses. Not only does smoking pot stimulate appetite, leading to more frequent trips to the refrigerator, but it also overwhelms the taste buds, causing even the most routine treats to take on a whole new character.
How exactly does cannabis alter a person’s perception of the world around them? Why does marijuana alter the way our senses of taste, hearing, and sight are stimulated?
The significance of using one’s senses
Because of our senses, we are able to perceive the world around us; these senses receive information from the outside environment and communicate them to the brain via the neurological system. These signals are then processed by our biological computer, which creates a picture of our environment based on them. Our senses assist us in performing activities that are part of our daily lives, such as using a keyboard or stove, driving, and conversing with other people. In essence, our senses help us to survive. If we did not have them, we would not be able to survive the challenges of avoiding harm, obtaining food, and reproducing.
The five fundamental senses that make up the human experience are taste, touch, hearing, vision, and smell. As places of observation of the external world, the senses that correspond to each of these senses, such as our eyes, which allow us to see, and our ears, which allow us to hear, for example, serve as examples. Our senses send signals to our central nervous system, which in turn enables us to react and behave in the appropriate manner. Our brains are protected from harm by the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds them in a cavity deep within our skulls.
Every one of our sensory organs contains specialized cells that contribute to the process of converting signals received from the surrounding environment into electrical information that is then communicated by the nervous system. Photoreceptors are responsible for the conversion of light into electrical impulses when, for instance, light travels through the eye and lands on the retina. When it comes to hearing, sound is what causes the cochlea to vibrate, which in turn triggers 25,000 nerve endings to translate the vibrations into electrical messages. Mechanoreceptors respond to mechanical stimuli, thermoreceptors respond to temperature stimuli, and chemoreceptors respond to chemical stimuli in our skin. Our skin also contains many types of cells that sense different types of stimuli.
Each of our senses can function on its own or in combination to provide us with information about potential dangers and sources of pleasure. We are equipped with instinctive defense mechanisms that are activated in reaction to particular stimuli, such as sounds that are sudden and loud or tastes that are unpleasant. However, pleasure can be triggered by different stimuli, such as the gentle touch of another person or the taste of something sweet.
How cannabis affects the functioning of the body
The methods in which the components in cannabis interact with the body are both extremely varied and highly specialized. Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, have the ability to change cellular activity through the endocannabinoid system. They accomplish this by either attaching directly to receptors or by modifying the function of enzymes. The ECS “monitors” practically every other system in the human body, from the neurological system to the musculoskeletal system, and it contributes to the maintenance of homeostasis, which is a state of equilibrium in which all of these other systems are maintained in a state of equilibrium.
Within the endocannabinoid system, the endogenous cannabinoids that are created by the body are referred to as endocannabinoids. These cannabinoids function as signaling molecules, also known as neurotransmitters. However, external cannabinoids have a structure that is comparable to that of such compounds, which enables them to function in a manner that is analogous to that of such chemicals but is considerably more profound.
Components of the endocannabinoid system are especially abundant in the central nervous system, where they play an important role in regulating the release of neurotransmitters and also play a role in regulating mood, hunger, and memory. The endocannabinoid system, which is a ubiquitous component of our biological computer, is also involved in the regulation of sensory processing in a variety of domains, including the areas of the olfactory and visual systems. The endocannabinoid system is not only present in the brain, but it is also present in the sensory organs of the body. There is evidence of it in the taste buds of the tongue, the cochlear nucleus of the ear, and the retina.
Cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant have the ability to modulate the endocannabinoid system, which plays a significant part in how we make sense of the world around us. As a result, it is becoming more interesting to investigate the effects that cannabis and its components have on particular senses.
How the effects of cannabis are felt by the senses
How exactly does cannabis influence our perceptions of the world? And what exactly takes place on a physiological level in order to make this a reality?
The majority of those who use cannabis would probably agree that it makes meals taste better. It elevates the flavor of sweet foods to a new level and gives even the simplest of munchies a new dimension; even bread and butter prove to be good enough to make you high. It’s true that THC can stimulate your appetite, but it’s not only a lack of food that can make flavors more intense. In the year 2009, scientists working at the Monell Chemical Sensation Center in Japan discovered that endocannabinoids improve the sensation of sweetness by acting directly on the taste buds that are located on the tongue. It was discovered by the group that the introduction of endocannabinoids did not influence the way other flavors, such as sour, salty, bitter, or umami, were perceived. This was an interesting finding.
Merkel cells, in their capacity as mechanoreceptors, play an important part in the sense of touch. In particular, these cells are necessary for perceiving light touch and converting external inputs into electrical impulses that are then conveyed by neurons in the skin. Neurons in the skin are responsible for this process. There hasn’t been much research done on the link between the endocannabinoid system, Merkel cells, and touch, although the system is undeniably present in the skin.
Cannabinoids’ effects on the sense of touch have only been investigated in a very limited number of research. We can only rely on subjective data concerning this topic at this point. In 2019, a study titled “How Cannabis Changes the Sexual Experience for Both Men and Women” was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. This study used a survey to collect data on how cannabis alters the sexual experience for both men and women. There were 199 people who participated in the study, and 144 of them (or 74% of the total) indicated that marijuana made them more sensitive to touch.
There aren’t many people who smoke pot who will deny that being high makes music sound better. However, have you ever noticed that being high makes it harder for you to hear? Cannabis use enhances one’s ability to focus on the minute details included within a track, making those nuances seem more vivid and significant overall. However, it appears that the level of cannabinoids in one’s system is at least somewhat responsible for the enjoyment of listening to music while high on marijuana. Researchers at University College London discovered that listening to music while under the influence of cannabis with a high THC content reduces the positive effects that music has on regions of the brain that are connected with reward and emotion. On the other hand, the incorporation of CBD into the equation mitigates the negative effects discussed above, which is proof of the entourage effect.
Cannabis most likely amplifies the neurochemical changes that take place in our brains as a result of listening to music, rather than altering the way that sound is perceived in our ears. Dopamine levels rise when we listen to music that we enjoy, and this effect is similar to the one produced by smoking cannabis.
When compared to the sense of taste, the research on the effects of cannabis on eyesight is still in its infancy and lacks definitive conclusions. According to the findings of a case study that was carried out in 2004 and published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, cannabis use may aid increase one’s ability to see better at night. Cannabis, on the other hand, can drastically alter a person’s visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, three-dimensional vision, and the ability of the eye to focus. These findings come from researchers at the University of Granada, whose findings can be considered more academically reliable.
Have you ever smoked a joint and discovered that your sense of smell was impacted in a way that you didn’t expect? In this area, the research has not yet produced a definite outcome, and the findings differ across animals and people. Studies conducted on animals have indicated that using cannabis can improve odor recognition, which can lead to an increase in the amount of food consumed. Human experiments, on the other hand, paint a quite different picture. THC, in the amount of 20 milligrams, was orally administered to fifteen healthy volunteers in a study that was published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. After the amount was given, the researchers discovered that the participants’ ability to smell had significantly diminished.
Do you feel more heightened sensations when you use cannabis?
There is little doubt that cannabis heightens our taste for sugary foods and enables us to become more responsive to the music that we adore (when it has enough CBD). However, the research that has been done so far indicates that cannabis use can, at least in the short term, result in a reduction in both one’s visual and olfactory acuity. In addition, the research on the effects of cannabis on touch is still in its infancy, therefore it is premature to draw any conclusions about it. In the grand scheme of things, cannabis won’t overpower any of your senses. Nevertheless, it can make it easier for you to appreciate all of your favorite foods and melodies.