1. Pot and Viagra don’t mix
Marijuana compounds can inhibit certain liver enzymes called cytochrome P450 enzymes. What does that mean? Well, for one thing, that Viagra won’t break down as readily in the blood of someone who’s been toking up.
Viagra (sildenafil) is broken down by cytochrome P450 enzymes, and as a 2001 study put it, “[t]here is the possibility that elevated plasma concentrations of sildenafil could occur with coadministration of known inhibitors of” these enzymes. This could cause adverse side effects. One 2002 case report in the journal Clinical Cardiology outlined the case of a 41-year-old man who experienced a heart attack after mixing marijuana and Viagra the night before. Though the doctors couldn’t prove that a drug interaction caused the heart attack, they warned other physicians to consider the enzyme-inhibiting side effects of pot when they prescribe Viagra.
Smoking up could be a very different experience for men and women, according to a 2014 study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. In research on rats, Washington State University psychologist Rebecca Craft found that females were more sensitive to cannabis’ painkilling qualities, but they were also more likely to develop a tolerance for the drug, which could contribute to negative side effects and dependence on marijuana.
The female rats’ higher levels of the hormone estrogen seem to play a role in these sex-specific effects. Female rats are more sensitive to the effects of cannabis at ovulation, when estrogen levels are highest, Craft said in a statement.
3. Pot for your pets?
People have used medicinal marijuana to ease everything from glaucoma to the side effects of chemotherapy. So why shouldn’t man’s best friend give medicinal pot a shot?
Pet owners are already using marijuana medicinally to help their suffering cats and dogs, according to a 2013 article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Most of the time, animals that ingest pot get over the effects within a few hours, veterinarians say. But in large quantities, pot can be deadly to animals.
4. Does your heart hate pot?
Most of the debate about the health effects of marijuana centers on the brain changes that may come with using the drug, such as the drug’s association with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. But could smoking a bowl mess with your heart, too?
In an April 2014 study, researchers combed through 2,000 cases of medical complications from marijuana in France and found that 2 percent involved heart problems, including nine fatal heart attacks. The study wasn’t designed to determine why pot use might occasionally lead to heart problems, but previous research has found that marijuana can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which could tip a vulnerable individual over into heart attack territory.
“The perception is that marijuana is a magical drug, that it’s totally safe, and we can use it in medical treatment. What we don’t know about are the negative effects, the potential harms,” Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York who was not involved in the study, told Live Science at the time.
5. It’s in the air
There are certain places where a haze of pot smoke is to be expected: Grateful Dead concerts, for example, or marijuana legalization rallies. But on the streets of Rome?
Yes, according to a 2012 study done in Italy, trace amounts of marijuana are wafting through the air around the Colosseum and the Pantheon, as well as in seven other Italian cities. Researchers examined the air of Rome, Bologna, Florence, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Turin and Verona for psychotropic substances, including cocaine, marijuana, nicotine and caffeine. The scientists found all of these substances in all eight cities, with Turin having the highest total concentrations and Florence and Bologna having the highest concentrations of pot.
But even in Florence and Bologna, tourists don’t need to worry about a contact high while taking in the sights. The levels of marijuana and other substances were far too low to affect human health — but researchers said they hope the findings can inform drug policy by helping to estimate drug consumption in each city.
6. Is pot addictive? Ask your genes
For a subset of pot users, marijuana becomes a substance of dependence. This means that they experience symptoms of withdrawal, such as irritability and restlessness, when they attempt to stop using the drug. There is academic debate over how many people should be considered dependent on marijuana, but national epidemiological studies put the rate at about 9 percent of users, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Marijuana dependence may have genetic underpinnings. A 2016 study uncovered three genetic variants associated with dependence. One variant is involved in regulating calcium in the blood and has been linked with opioid dependence; another is involved with the growth of the central nervous system, the researchers reported in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The genetic variations were simply associated with dependence, and the study couldn’t prove that having one of these variants caused dependence. Nevertheless, the researchers found that the genetic variations they’d discovered also tend to occur in people with depression, which could explain why dependence and depression often go hand-in-hand.
Source – Live Science