How Cannabis Affects the Mind and Body

Endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of receptors located in the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. The ECS is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, painsensation, mood, and memory, and in mediating the psychoactive effects of cannabis.




Cannabinoids regulate how cells send, receive, or process messages. Cannabinoids act like a type of “dimmer switch,” slowing down communication between cells.

What happensin the Central Nervous System?

When someone ingests cannabis, THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. THC slows down the communication in the EC system, leading to many of the effects noted below.



Effects of cannabis components on the body


  • Analgesic = painkiller, for chronic pain back pain, fibromyalgia or arthritis, for example
  • Anorectic = reduces appetite
  • Antiepilectic = for treating seizures
  • Antiemetic = effective against vomiting and nausea
  • Antiproliferative = tending to inhibit cell growth — in tumor cell growth, for example
  • Antipsoriatic = effective against psoriasis (chronic skin inflammation)
  • Anti-ischemic= control of myocardial ischemia (reduced blood flow to heart)
  • Anti-prokinetic = anti diarrheal or stool firming
  • Antipsychotic = to manage psychosis (delusions, hallucinations, paranoia)
  • Antispasmodic = suppresses muscle spasms — from irritable bowel syndrome, for example
  • Anxiolytic = inhibits anxiety
  • Bone stimulant = promotes bone growth — after a fracture, for example
  • Immunosuppressive = suppression of the immune response — to help the survival of an organ after a transplant operation, for example
  • Neuroprotective = protecting nerve cells from injury or degeneration
  • Vasorelaxant = reducing tension on the vascular system (blood vessels)