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Side effects of hemp seeds

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Discover the Side effects of hemp seeds that you should know.

Cannabis flower at the start of flowering. We can see a multitude of small white dots on the leaves, these are the trichomes that contain, among other things, THC and CBD.Side effects of hemp seeds that you should know


The side effects of hemp seeds

The active ingredients of hemp can be beneficial for health in many pathologies but it is especially the psychoactive effects that are sought by non-medical users.

The use of hemp seeds classically causes a feeling of euphoria and a moderate psychic exaltation  linked to THC, a muscular relaxation linked to THC and CBD then a slight sedation linked to CBD and certain terpenes.

The effects occur after a few minutes by inhalation and about an hour after ingestion, and last for 2 hours and 8 hours respectively on average. At the usual dosage, these effects are generally less powerful than those of alcohol or anti-anxiety drugs (Xanax ©, Lexomyl © …) but some individuals are more sensitive than others to the effects of hemp, the use of which is not not trivial, nor devoid of risks.

Some populations are more vulnerable or more at risk of developing complications from cannabis use. This is particularly the case with adolescents (risk of addiction multiplied by 2), pregnant or breastfeeding women , subjects with a history of psychiatric or cardiovascular disease (risk of decompensation).


The effects obtained depend on the quantity and chemotype of the hemp consumed (concentrations of the different  active ingredients ), the subject (medical and psychiatric history), his environment and the methods of use (consumption habit and mode of administration).

The psychoactive side effect of hemp seeds is linked to the action of THC on the CB1 receptors in the brain. This interaction can have opposite effects depending on the concentration of THC which is anxiolytic at low doses and anxiogenic at high doses. The effect of THC is limited by the presence of cannabidiol (CBD), which explains why Sativex (THC + CBD) is much better tolerated than Marinol (pure THC).

Hemp contains many other active ingredients in addition to THC which can have a synergistic, complementary or antagonistic action, such as for example myrcene , responsible for a strong sedative action. The side effects are greatly reduced in ‘daily users’ by the phenomenon of tolerance, a mechanism involved in the process of drug dependence.

The physical effects  of THC in the occasional user are widely described:

•The active ingredients of hemp can be beneficial for health in many pathologies

•dilation of blood vessels (red eyes)

•decreased salivary secretion (dry mouth)


•increased heart rate

•increased appetite

•dilation of the bronchi

•motor inhibition

•muscle relaxation

On the psychological level , the hold of THC causes little disturbance of behavior or judgment, unlike alcohol intoxication. It generates:


•a feeling of pleasure and well-being

•an amplification of perceptions (feeling of more intense experience)

•a development of associations of ideas (more fertile imagination)

•a spatio-temporal distortion (spatial disorientation and impression of increased time),

•a decrease in memory span (reduced ability to memorize immediately)

•coordination disorders (decreased reflexes)


A. The side effects of using hemp in the short term

Attention ! An overdose can happen with oral administration of Cannabis. Consume the product in small portions, spacing out as much as possible, even if no effect is observed. However, eating cannabis is much healthier than smoking it.

Pathological drunkenness (bad trip):

Taken in bad conditions (stressful or inappropriate circumstances overdose…), THC can cause anxiety and a feeling of persecution (paranoia) which could well be reinforced by the penalization of the use.

In rare cases, THC causes unwanted side effects such as tremors, nausea, confusion or suffocation which can lead to panic attack or vagal syncope. These effects linked to an overdose are observed above all in neophytes or in the event of oral administration.

Difficult psychic experiences, such as an acute delusional puff (cannabis pharmacopsychosis) have been reported anecdotally in the event of administration of very high doses of THC in naive subjects, without CBD in sufficient concentration, an antidote having clinically demonstrated its antipsychotic properties. .

There is no obvious causal link between the presence of THC in the blood and the increased risk of fatal accident

Road accidents

According to a study, recent cannabis use is associated with a significant impairment in driving ability,  especially among occasional users . Under the influence of THC, reactions are slowed down, the field of vision is narrowed and motor coordination disorders may appear. At the same time, however, we observe in these users a more careful driving objectified by a reduction in speed and an increase in safety distances.


Many human factors influence the occurrence of traffic accidents: the main ones are alcohol use, excessive speed, fatigue and distraction. The use of alcohol in combination with cannabis increases the risks.

Although this is particularly counterintuitive, even within the user community, there is no obvious causal link between the presence of THC in the blood (without associated alcohol) and the increased risk of accidents. fatal, in particular because the observed excess risk (1.8) is too low to allow a decision. As a benchmark, the legal threshold authorized for alcohol (0.5 gr / l) entails an increased risk of 2.5.

B. The side effects of using hemp in the medium term


The medium-term risks are above all linked to THC: these are adjustment disorders and dependence . These disorders primarily concern subjects more vulnerable to abuse and addiction, ie young people and individuals losing their bearings . These disorders do not generally concern occasional or regular use (> 10 months) but daily use.

Memory and adaptation disorders

THC is not neurotoxic. If the acute use of cannabis disrupts cognitive functions in a transient and spontaneously resolving manner, regular use in the adult population is not correlated with a decline in cognitive performance outside of periods of influence.

The contribution of new imaging techniques has been able to highlight structural and functional modifications of the brain in chronic users, reversible after withdrawal, without, however, concluding that there is a reduction in clinical performance. These elements highlighted in a recent meta-analysis probably reflect a neuronal adaptation to chronic exposure to cannabis.

The influence of hemp mainly affects working memory. Sustained consumption can, however, lead to physical and intellectual fatigue. Heavy use acts as an emotional anesthetic and may promote procrastination or slow down the execution of spots.


The use of psychoactive drugs affects the limbic system, causing satisfaction outside a process of homeostatic balance and less awareness of the surrounding context. This action is not specific to cannabis, the effect on memorization of which remains weak.

While it is almost never problematic in socially integrated adults, regular use of hemp can, on the other hand, hinder the adolescent in his acquisitions, his capacity to undertake and to create, especially if the latter is already broken. or in school difficulties.

In the event of high cumulative doses during adolescence, it could cause a slight decrease in cognitive performance in adulthood according to several prospective studies, including the Dunedin cohort. However, these studies are limited by the lack of knowledge of the composition of the products consumed and their frequent association with tobacco or other toxicants.

In all cases, sustained and regular use at an early age can have lasting damaging consequences on the neurocognitive level because the brain is not yet mature, in particular the pre-frontal area, the limbic area and their connections. The endocannabinoid system would be involved in this cerebral maturation.

It is currently established that the regular use of drugs during adolescence disrupts the phenomenon of synaptic pruning , which justifies protective measures for minors extended to all products, knowing that massive alcoholism in adolescents ( binge drinking) are much more worrying in this area, resulting in cognitive disorders greater than those associated with cannabis use in adulthood.

The phenomenon of synaptic pruning is objectified by a myelination of certain neuronal circuits, the most suitable a priori, and schematically consists of selecting the behaviors to be favored over new situations.


Reasoning skills increase during adolescence, along with myelination of neurons, to enable decision-making, problem-solving, behavioral adaptation to the situation and risk-taking. The precocity and repetition of taking drugs, as well as the genetic or acquired vulnerabilities during previous relational stress, contribute to disrupting the acquisition of learning and interfere in the construction of benchmarks.

In case of daily use appears the risk of dependence and can then arise relationship problems, school and professional. Amotivational syndrome with disinterest in usual activities is actually just a possible symptom of addiction in the context of heavy drinking on a daily basis.

The addiction

Cannabis addiction is  weak and reversible . It concerns 5 to 10% of hemp users depending on the studies. This risk increases with the frequency of use, the precocity of daily use (before 25 years) or the existence of underlying psychiatric disorders. This risk decreases in the event of tobacco-free use, balanced psychological structure and a favorable social environment. The penalization of use clearly creates an unfavorable environment for users which is conducive to the development of addictions.

“Although cannabinoids are considered by some to be a drug, its potential for addiction is considerably lower than that of other prescribed products or other harmful substances.”

2011 National Cancer Institute of the United States

The use of hemp can be addictive if consumed daily. This dependence, essentially psychological, can gradually set in among daily users and may be strong in chronic users, constantly under the effect of the product. In the daily user, stopping consumption can lead to a limited withdrawal syndrome for a few days, such as irritability, insomnia and sweating, with a peak between 2 to 4 days after stopping.


Hemp addiction can remain unproblematic for a long time in non-vulnerable adults, even in certain intensive users, because it does not generally lead to behavioral disorders and does little to affect the user’s social life.

The search for the pleasure provided by use contributes to the reinforcement of consumption behavior and THC acts like all psychotropic products on the circuits of motivation. A phenomenon of pharmacological tolerance to the psychoactive effects of THC is observed in daily users (reduced effects) and can lead to intensive use without obvious consequences at first glance.

This tolerance disappears quickly after stopping consumption (36 hours on average). In contrast to alcohol tolerance, this phenomenon seems to arise more from pharmacodynamic than pharmacokinetic mechanisms leading to a selective and reversible drop in the expression of CB receptors.

The long-term side effects of using hemp seeds

“Cannabis is not a benign substance. It is a powerful drug that offers a wide spectrum of effects. However, with the exception of the negative effects associated with combustion products, the unwanted side effects of cannabis remain comparable to the tolerated effects of other drugs. “

1999 United States Institute of Medicine

Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases linked to combustion.

Thanks to vaporization, the physical risks associated with the consumption of smoked hemp are minimized. The cannabinoids contained in Hemp are released from 105 °


In the event of occasional or regular use (<10 months), the risks of long-term use have not been demonstrated.

In case of daily use, the main risk in the long term is not related to the active ingredients, but to the way of consuming the hemp. In the majority of cases, cannabis is consumed mixed with tobacco and rolled in a leaf, but there are clearly less toxic modes of administration which tend to develop within the user community in recent years, for example vaporization  or ingestion.

The toxicity linked to the combustion of hemp is probably close to that of tobacco in view of the similarity of the composition of the fumes resulting from the combustion of each of the products. A slightly lower toxicity than that of tobacco is possible and could be linked to the protective role of the active principles of hemp on the pulmonary and cardiovascular level.

The respiratory system is then exposed to the same risks of chronic bronchitis, emphysema and bronchopulmonary cancer, with however a lower frequency observed in several studies, potentially linked to the virtues of cannabinoids.

A recent study has shown, for example, that the relationship between the dose of smoked cannabis and ventilatory disorders was not linear as for tobacco: at low dose (2-3 episodes of consumption in the last 30 days), there is probably a protective effect of the active ingredients of cannabis on pulmonary functions, alongside deleterious effects which take over from a certain cumulative dose.

The hemp or “joint” cigarette, as toxic as that of tobacco

The toxicity related to combustion would be slightly lower than that of tobacco thanks to the protective role of the active principles of hemp on the pulmonary and cardiovascular level.


“Qualitatively, cannabis smoke contains at least the same components as tobacco smoke, with the major exception that there are approximately 60 other cannabinoids not found in tobacco. In addition, tobacco contains nicotine not found in cannabis. Many ingredients common to cannabis and tobacco are known to be toxic to the tissues of the respiratory system.

These toxic compounds include hydrocyanic acid, oxides of nitrogen, acrolein, reactive aldehydes, and several known carcinogens. It is therefore reasonable to expect that repeated inhalations of these harmful compounds in cannabis smoke could have, in the long term, deleterious effects on the lung comparable to those observed in regular tobacco smokers. ”

 2001 Tashkin DP

Summary of damage

Most often, the use of hemp is not or little problematic on an individual or societal level because the users are adults and consume in moderation. The damage mainly concerns two target populations: young people and daily users.

The main damage consists of adjustment disorders and dependence  in young people which can develop in the medium term in case of daily use.

In daily users, the main damage is linked to combustion, a risky practice in the long term, causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.


Some damage linked to the use of hemp is anecdotal by their frequency, calling into question the very imputability of hemp in the genesis of these disorders, this is the case in particular of schizophrenia and driving under the influence of THC , yet readily presented in the media as the new dangers of cannabis (see received ideas ). Other perceptions are opposed to reality, unbelievable as it sounds. Thus, the majority of French people think that hemp is a heroin step, while its use would on the contrary facilitate the withdrawal of opiates, cannabidiol (CBD) is currently being studied for its potential. anti craving (reduction of cravings to consume).

The spotlight is regularly focused on decoys which obscure the real dangers of the use of hemp and do not distinguish the target populations. It therefore seems essential to get rid of fear-mongering myths that have not been scientifically proven and to stop paying attention to anecdotal disorders that have no place  in public health policy.

Damage compared by product

Scientific experts around the world agree that dependence and, more generally, the damage to individuals are significantly less than those associated with alcohol, tobacco and certain drugs. These elements have been known since the Laguardia report in 1944 but that did not prevent the demonization of this substance concomitant with its ban.

Scientific experts around the world also agree that the societal damage, in particular the social consequences of cannabis use, is significantly less than that linked to alcohol (legal cost excluded because it does not depend directly on the ‘use).

The work of Nutt (United Kingdom) is consensus in this field and the conclusions of the experts of the French Federation of Addictology go in the same direction.

We hope the article on the Side effects of hemp seeds that you should know has been of help.


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