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Your Brain on FoodHow Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings$
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Gary Wenk

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388541.001.0001

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Marijuana in the Brain

Marijuana in the Brain

(p.97) chapter 5 Marijuana in the Brain
Your Brain on Food

Gary L. Wenk

Oxford University Press

The brain makes its own marijuana. Of course, no one knew this until recently. Thus, for many thousands of years our ancestors harvested or cultivated marijuana-producing plants in order to experience euphoria, which is the brain's response to the stimulation of its own marijuana neurotransmitter system. Marijuana also has analgesic, i.e., pain relief, and anti-inflammatory effects which may become the basis for its medical use in the future. The discovery of your brain's own marijuana neurotransmitter, called anandamide, has demonstrated how important this neurotransmitter system is to normal brain function. Cannabinoid neurons control the release of dopamine; this action explains the ability of marijuana to produce euphoria. The stimulation of cannabinoid function in your brain's feeding centers may underlie the classic side-effect known as “the munchies.” Once again, it can be seen that understanding the distribution of a neurotransmitter in the brain provides clues to its function and insight into why we consume certain plants.

Keywords:   THC, cannabis indica, stroke, chronic pain treatment, neuroinflammation prevention, gateway drug, hemp rope, munchies, marijuana

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