*The effects of marijuana have been a long debated topic with strong opinions on both sides. Naysayers say that marijuana is physically harmful, not to mention illegal in most states. Whereas the proponents of legalization argue that there are many medical benefits to this herb that are not fully being used due to it’s mostly illegal status. With studies on both sides that show both the positive and negative effects that marijuana can have on the human body, it’s hard to know who is right.
The majority of marijuana users aren’t concerned with if marijuana can cure cancer, they just want to be able to relax at the end of a long day or share a joint with some friends over the weekend. So how does marijuana effect these “non-medial” users? Here are some surprising physical side effects that have been shows to develop as a result of smoking marijuana:
While it is not the most immediately noticeable side affect, recent studies have shown that marijuana can be linked to the formation of breasts in men. Marijuana has been known to lower testosterone levels in humans. When this occurs enough estrogen can build up in the male body to result in enlarged male breasts.
Having red eyes is one of the most common side effects of smoking marijuana. It happens because the Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in the drug causes your blood pressure to drop while increasing your blood flow. When this happens, your blood vessels expand. You just happen to notice it in your eyes because that’s where your blood vessels are most visible.
Smoking marijuana can also cause you to have a dry mouth or become extremely thirsty. This occurs because you essentially stop saliva formation, not because of the smoke itself. The cannabinoid receptors are located in the submandibular gland, the part of your body that’s also responsible for making most of your saliva. The gland can’t do two things at once, so it stops creating saliva when you smoke or ingest marijuana.
This is another very common side effect. Most people that smoke or ingest marijuana have increased hunger and enjoy food more than usual. This happens because the THC stimulates the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that is only supposed to become active to tell you that you’re hungry.
Sleep is broken up into different stages. The most important part of your sleep cycle is the REM, or rapid eye movement, phase. REM sleep gives you the most rest, but THC actually shortens the amount of REM you get each night. Even if you fall asleep quickly, marijuana will make you feel tired the next day.
As the legalization of marijuana increases, the debate as to it’s true benefit or harm will continue. While there is a lot of evidence as to the positive effects that marijuana can have on illnesses, every day users often forget that it can have an effect on them as well, and perhaps one that they don’t want! Not everyone will experience the same side effects, but the ones mentioned here are prevalent enough that users should keep them in mind before smoking up.
Dr. Bill Adams is a board certified plastic surgeon and contributor to The Plastic Surgery Channel.