Back in February I submitted an article about Brian Bakri and the tv show he creates called Reeferhead TV that is aired on local PBS in Albequerque, NM. Brian PM'd me after that article posted and offered to send me a VHS tape with a couple of his shows on it. I just got the tape last week that has two episodes of his show on it and I wanted to share part of what was in the first episode because it helped me understand some things. Some of it is transcribed and some I have added from looking things up. The episode I got this from can be watched at PotTV. THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (ANS) To understand how marijuana effects the body, we must first understand how the Autonomic Nervous System works. The Autonomic Nervous System is controlled by the hypothalamus, the gray matter in the floors and walls of the third ventricle of the brain, and it operates in two branches. The first of these is the sympathetic branch of the Autonomic Nervous System. Stimulants are released into our body causing our heart rate to go up, causing us to be more aware and more tense generally. The second branch is the Parasympathetic branch. When it is activated, it causes an opposing effect, causing depressant –like chemicals to be released in our system, slowing it down. The goal is to maintain a balance between the two branches. When we are tired and run down, there is very little sympathetic activity. When we feel safe and secure, when we are not worried or thinking too much about something and are not over exhausted then there is very little sympathetic or parasympathetic activity going on. Due to occurrences in every day life, this is usually not the case and we fluctuate back and forth between the two branches. This fluctuation is what we call stress. Any time a threat is perceived, it can be real or imagined; fear is automatically transmitted via the hypothalamus, through the Autonomic Nervous System and throughout the body. The sympathetic branch goes into action releasing adrenaline like chemicals into our system causing our heart rate to go up. Not only does our heart rate increase, but also the force of the heartbeat is increased dramatically as well. This causes an increase in blood pressure and our breathing becomes faster to supply more oxygen to the brain, the sensory organs, the eyes, the ears and the pupils dilate. All of this allows for quicker perceptions and decision-making processes. Stored sugars which we have in our liver are released into the system to provide for energy and our skeletal muscles tense up in order to produce what could be called or compared to an armor like function in order to protect our internal organs from blows with a thick padding of condensed muscle. At the same time our blood vessels constrict, especially the capillaries in our extremities and this is believed to be to prevent blood loss should we be injured. So you can see without any conscious effort on our part, instantaneously our body is now combat ready. This is called a ‘Fight or Flight’ response. Its sole purpose is to put the body on alert for physical exertion. When we open up all of these organs, we have better blood flow throughout the brain and the body. We take in the input and decide how we are going to react to the stimulus. When physical action or exertion takes place, the stimulating chemicals that were released by the sympathetic branch are used up and the body returns to balance. However, as is often the case in every day life, there is no physical exertion, or not enough in comparison to the amount of chemicals that were released by the sympathetic branch. We have a lot of stimulation, but we don’t act upon a lot of it. If this is the case and there is no physical exertion to use the chemicals up, the parasympathetic branch goes into play, releasing depressant like chemicals into the body and this slows everything down to maintain balance. Now when we take outside drugs into our system it throws off the balance of our Autonomic Nervous System. If we drink a lot of coffee our system is ‘jacked up’ so the parasympathetic branch goes into effect releasing depressant chemicals to counter the effects of the caffeine. If we stop taking the caffeine we still have an over abundance of these parasympathetic chemicals in our body and this is one of the factors that plays into addiction. Our bodies in FIGHT OR FLIGHT mode: Heart rate goes up Breathing becomes faster and deeper Veins are constricted Bronchi are dilated in order to achieve greater air flow Mucous membranes are dry Skeletal muscles tense Pupils dilate Peristalsis is inhibited (Peristalsis is the normal contraction and relaxation of the hollow tubes of the alimentary canal. i.e. the wave like contractions that move food through the system. This inhibition is caused by the skeletal muscles tensing up.) All of the Fight or Flight symptoms are caused by the chemicals the sympathetic branch releases into the system. When the parasympathetic chemicals are released into the system, the above symptoms go away and balance is achieved. The effect marijuana has on the Autonomic Nervous System is unlike any other known to man. Marijuana is neither a stimulant nor is it a depressant, it is actually both and stimulates both the sympathetic and parasympathetic chemicals, creating balance. EFFECTS OF MARIJUANA/CANNABIS ON THE ANS Heart rate- goes up Veins -dilated Breathing- becomes slower and deeper Bronchi- dilated Mucous Membranes-dry Muscles- relaxed Pupils – dilated Peristalsis- stimulated Brain- quicker, faster thinking When the heart rate goes up, the heart is pumping harder, but the blood pressure doesn’t rise because the blood vessels dilate throughout the body. A case in point is a stoner’s red eyes. So the body is pumping blood through a relaxed system sending oxygen-enriched blood more efficiently. Our breathing becomes slower and deeper providing for better elimination of toxins from the lungs and for better oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange. The bronchial tubes dilating as well as the air sacs in the lungs expanding further enhance this exchange. This is why marijuana is effective medicine for bronchitis and asthma; marijuana increases the diameter of the bronchi. Better breathing is accomplished by better airflow. This is due to the sympathetic chemicals drying out the mucous membranes. (Cotton mouth) Restrictions to peristalsis can cause a whole host of problems. When we are stressed and our muscles are tensed, we aren’t digesting food properly and our bodies aren’t getting the energy we need. It can cause constipation, or ulcers or stomach and colon cancer. Another way marijuana has been used to effect peristalsis is in childbirth. The uterine contractions are another form of peristalsis. Marijuana has been used to increase the force of these contractions at the same time as relieving pain throughout the body, making birthing easier.