Contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing strictly magical or mystical about cannabis. Sorry if that takes a little of the enjoyment out of things, but when you break it all down to its fundamentals, we’re really just talking science and chemicals. Which may sound boring, but there is really very little more to life in general. It’s all a case of chemicals, signals, responses and so on that make us feel the way we do when we do the things we do. Boring perhaps, but who cares when it feels so damn good?
In the case of cannabinoids, it’s the way in which the endocannabinoid system within the body interacts with these cannabis components that leads to the characteristic effect. Specifically, THC is the cannabinoid that gets you high as a kite, interacting with body and brain in a manner that triggers a state of euphoria. But given the fact that it’s all nothing more than a chemical reaction, what else is there that can deliver a similar kind of ‘high’ sensation to that of cannabis?
Well, the simple answer is quite a lot, but also nothing at the same time. The reason being that while there are plenty of things that trigger the same kinds of chemical responses and sensations as cannabis, it’s really not as if any of them are as effective, powerful or convenient as a heavy bong rip. Not that they can’t be enjoyable, mind.
So just in case you had ever wondered (of course you had), what follows is a quick rundown of five things that can produce a sensation similar to cannabis…on a chemical level, at least:
First up, you may or may not be aware of the fact that catnip is in fact closely related to the cannabis plant. In fact, there are those who believe that both cannabis and catnip plants represent marvels of evolution, having developed in their unique properties to confuse and disable those indulging in them as something as a self-preservation method. Which is an interesting theory, to say the least.
Somewhere in the region of two-thirds of all cats are known to go completely insane for catnip. It is commonly used in a variety of cultures for making herbal teas and cooking in general. In cats – which includes the very biggest of big cats too – sniffing the stuff triggers a chemical response that works in the same way as the detection of pheromones. Which is why cat owners often refer to their cats getting well and truly ‘high’ from catnip, which isn’t entirely far from the mark.
Unfortunately though…depending on which way you look at it…the same cannot be said for humans. Regardless of what you may have read or been reliably informed by your buddies, you cannot and will not get high on catnip. Research has shown that it does not have the same effect on human beings, though for the time being at least, scientists are still entirely confused as to why this is the case.
Some focus on running, going so far as to refer to this particular sensation as a “runner’s high”. But the simple truth of the matter is that it really isn’t the kind of chemical reaction and sensation that is exclusive to running. Which is great news if, like us, you find running about as enjoyable as toothache. The truth is though, this kind of high very much exists and is the result of endorphins being released by the brain, which to a large extent are the body’s naturally occurring painkillers. Useful for keeping you going, but scientists from the Central Institute of Mental Health at the University of Heidelberg medical school in Germany stated that this exercise high is not dissimilar to the high you get from cannabis.
Specifically, they carried out a bunch of experiments on laboratory mice in order to determine whether or not the runner’s high was in any way linked to the endocannabinoid systems. And it turned out that this was indeed the case. The reason being that when the scientists blocked the endorphin receptors of some of their test subjects, they found that the mice still felt the same exercise high as that that hadn’t been engineered. It apparently all comes down to evolution once again, with the body having something of a reserve supercharger hiding behind the scenes, in order to kick in if and when we find ourselves being chased by predators. Which doesn’t happen these days – we simply get an extra kick during exercise when we need it.
Let’s be honest, being completely head over heels in love or getting yourself primed and ready for a session in the sack is enough to make anyone feel as high as a kite. But what’s interesting is the way in which research has recently discovered that when the body produces a lot of the hormone oxytocin – something of a ‘love’ hormone – it contributes to the additional release of anandamide. Anandamide is a cannabinoid that does its business on the brain to create feelings of pleasure and motivation, sporting a similar internal structure to THC.
Which to a large extent explains why upon finally getting to first or second base with whoever you’ve had your eye on for months, you get that sudden head-to-toe euphoric rush that’s very similar to a hit of quality bud. The only difference being that in this instance, it disappears pretty quickly.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 20 years or so, you will have probably heard about the way in which chocolate prompts the brain to release the same chemicals as it would before, during and after sex. Which is true. In fact, there are two substances in chocolate that can replicate the effects of anandamide. In case you’re interested, they’re called N-oleoylethanolamine and N-linoleoylethanolamine.
The only slight problem being that the effect is so comparatively mild that even if you ate enough of the stuff to make yourself violently ill, you still wouldn’t feel the same kind of high you would from a few tokes on a joint.
Last but not least…not to mention a little on the strange side…cheese. Without getting too bogged down with the science, researchers have discovered that there is a chemical in cheese that also happens to be present in cannabis. What is particularly special about cheese is the way in which it contains a relatively high dose of casein, which along with providing the body with plenty of the good stuff it needs also delivers a mild sense of euphoria by triggering the opioid receptors of the brain. This is very similar to the effect you’d expect from quality cannabis.
The reason this effect is exclusive to cheese is the way in which it is concentrated during the production process. It is present in milk, but only in the tiniest doses the likes of which aren’t really going to have much of an impact. Which is precisely why cheese can be habit-forming for so many people, who may not realise that their addiction could be about far more than taste alone. Just don’t expect to get completely off your box by gorging on cheese…stick with cannabis for that.