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These Side Effects of Marijuana Mess With Your Health

Doctor explains five side effects of marijuana to watch out for. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

It's been proven and well documented that marijuana provides medicinal benefits for patients with a variety of health issues including chronic pain, anxiety, seizures, nausea from cancer treatments and more. Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies tells us, "Despite its reputation as a drug with primarily adverse effects, marijuana has several positive side effects that many people are not aware of like improved appetite in those who have HIV/AIDS and other conditions that cause wasting. Taken as a whole, these findings suggest that marijuana may have several potential medical applications that are worth further exploration." That said, there's some surprising side effects that can be harmful. Dr. Mitchell states, "Many people are still unaware of the potential adverse side effects of marijuana. Here are five surprising side effects that people may not realize." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Marijuana Can Cause Short-Term Memory Loss

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Dr. Mitchell shares, "A growing body of research suggests that marijuana use can cause short-term memory loss. People who used marijuana daily were more likely to experience memory problems than those who didn't use the drug. They are also more likely to perform poorly on tests of working memory, which is the type of memory needed for everyday tasks like following a conversation or remembering where you parked your car. For example, people who used marijuana regularly were more likely to perform poorly on verbal recall tests. The hippocampus is a brain region that is critical for memory function. While further research is needed to confirm these findings, it is clear that marijuana use can hurt memory and cognitive function. This is because THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, affects the part of the brain responsible for memory formation. As a result, people who use marijuana may find it difficult to remember recent events or new information."


Marijuana Can Suppress The Immune System

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"The human immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from foreign invaders," says Dr. Mitchell. "Marijuana use can suppress the immune system, making the user more susceptible to infection. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, binds to receptors in the immune system and alters their function. This can lead to a decrease in the production of critical immune cells, such as T-cells and B-cells. As a result, the body is less able to fight off infection. Marijuana use has also been linked to an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. This may be because THC suppresses the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off cancer cells. While marijuana use does have some potentially harmful effects on the immune system, it is essential to remember that not everyone who uses marijuana will experience these effects. Some people may be more vulnerable than others, and many factors contribute to this vulnerability. If you are concerned about your health, it is always best to speak with a medical professional."


Marijuana Can Increase Anxiety and Paranoia

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According to Dr. Mitchell, "Marijuana use can result in increased anxiety and paranoia. These effects are most commonly seen when marijuana is used in high doses or used by people who are inexperienced with its effects. In some cases, marijuana use can trigger psychotic episodes characterized by paranoia and delusions. While these effects are usually temporary, they can be highly distressing for those who experience them. For people already struggling with anxiety or paranoia, marijuana use can exacerbate these conditions and make them difficult to manage. For some people, marijuana can cause feelings of anxiety and paranoia. This is more likely to occur if the person is inexperienced with marijuana or if they use a high-potency strain."


Marijuana Can Impair Coordination And Balance

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Dr. Mitchell explains, "Marijuana use can lead to impaired coordination and balance. A study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that people who used marijuana were more likely to experience difficulty with tasks requiring coordination, such as driving a car or operating machinery. The study also found that marijuana use can cause problems with balance, leading to an increased risk of falls. In addition, marijuana use has been linked to diminished reaction time, leading to accidents and injuries. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the potential risks of using marijuana, primarily if you are engaged in activities that require coordination or balance. THC can affect coordination and balance, making it dangerous to drive or operate machinery while under the influence of marijuana."


Marijuana Can Cause Bloodshot Eyes

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Dr. Mitchell says, "Marijuana use can cause bloodshot eyes, due to the dilation of blood vessels when someone uses marijuana. The dilated blood vessels cause increased blood flow to the area, leading to the characteristic redness and swelling. In some people, this effect is more pronounced than in others. Additionally, marijuana use can lead to dryness and irritation of the eyes, contributing to reddening and swelling. In severe cases, marijuana use can even cause temporary blindness. However, this is rare and typically only occurs with very high doses of marijuana. Overall, marijuana use can cause bloodshot eyes, so if you notice this symptom in yourself or someone else, it could be a sign of recent cannabis use."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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