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How Cannabis Affects Our Senses and Perception

As you enjoy cannabis, you’ve probably noticed how your perception and senses change. While mood shifts and cognitive changes are the most apparent effects of THC, cannabis also affects all five senses, including sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell.


These changes come from how cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis affect our endocannabinoid systems (ECS). The ECS is a body system full of receptors throughout the entire body, including the skin, nose, and mouth. The way that cannabinoids and terpenes interact with the ECS can influence it and impact all aspects of our body. This is where effects like pain relief and mental relaxation come from.

While there are noticeable effects of cannabis, you’ll also find cannabis causing you heightened sensory perception, enhancing your sense of smell, taste, touch, and hearing. The cannabinoids (THC, CBD, and 80+ others) found in cannabis, along with the 100+ terpenes in each strain, interact with the receptors in the ECS within the brain.


Signs of Heightened Sensory and Perception From Cannabis

Heightened sensory perception is just a long sciency way of saying “stronger senses.” When you consume cannabis, you’ll notice the following changes:


  • Louder sounds — for example, finding different instruments in songs you listen to all the time, hearing sounds louder than you usually do, picking up on noises you’d otherwise ignore (like chewing, creaking doors, pets, etc.)

  • Stronger smells — for example, more intense reactions to things that smell good, like cookies or pizza. You can also pick up on different scents found in your cannabis. It might smell piney the first time you smell it, and then after smoking, you can detect pine as well as minute lemon or citrus notes.

  • Richer tastes — This is part of the reason we get the munchies when we smoke cannabis. All foods simply taste better. Like scent, you can detect little nuances in your favorite foods and enjoy them on a deeper level.

  • Brighter colors — Cannabis can heighten your night vision and has a noticeable effect on the eyes. Every stoner pad is decked out in bright colors for a reason: things just look cooler when you smoke.

Cannabis and the Five Senses

There has been a ton of research in the scientific community about cannabis and sensory perception. While the exact influence hasn’t been completely pinpointed for each one, we do know for sure that we experience heightened senses of sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight. Just keep in mind that we all have our own complex endocannabinoid systems and different levels of perception without the influence of cannabis. Some people may respond much differently to cannabis than others, so try and experience your senses for yourself instead of relying too much on hearsay.


Cannabis and smell + taste

We lumped smell and taste together in the same category since they already go hand in hand. With a strong sense of smell, you tend to taste things more intensely and vice versa. The same enhancement is applied when it comes to cannabis.


Cannabis intensifies our scent and taste perceptions, which is part of the reason we get the munchies. One study on rats found that THC triggers an effect in the olfactory bulb, which increases our ability to smell and taste things more intensely.


However, it also affects the nucleus accumbens, which releases dopamine and makes us enjoy the act of eating. THC mimics a similar naturally-produced chemical that encourages the brain to produce more dopamine than it usually does when you eat while high.


Smell is also affected by cannabis. THC was found to improve the sense of smell and make food smell more intense. It can also make it easier to differentiate between two very similar scents.


Ultimately, cannabis makes it harder to resist food by making you feel extra hungry and by making your favorite foods taste and smell even better than they usually do.


Cannabis and touch

Our skin is full of endocannabinoid receptors, which is one reason why topical products work so well for localized pain relief minus the high. That said, introducing cannabinoids and terpenes into your body in any way can increase your sensitivity to touch. Ask anyone, sex while high is an entirely different experience.


But wait, why is cannabis so good for pain if it increases your sensitivity to it? Cannabis doesn’t decrease your pain; it changes your relationship to it. It makes the pain more bearable by altering your perceptions a bit. However, most cannabinoids and terpenes are also anti-inflammatory. So while they increase your sensitivity, they can reduce pain and make you feel more comfortable.


Cannabis and hearing

Like the other senses, there are also cannabinoid receptors found within your ears. Most people will report that cannabis makes them more sensitive to sound. However, this might be a global effect of the effects of THC altering your perception as a whole rather than giving you super hearing. You’re more likely to feel more in tune with your surroundings while you’re high versus physically getting a stronger sense of hearing.


Cannabis and sight

The effects of cannabis on sight are a lot more subtle than the effects of the other senses. Cannabis won’t give you trippy visuals or anything like that, though some people report a noticeable vision enhancement. Typically, they’re referring to night vision.


For example, there have been reports by many fishermen claiming that after using cannabis, they could see better at night. A study on night vision confirmed these effects and found that cannabis and THC could enhance night vision through the interaction between ECS receptors within the retina.


Cannabis is actually quite helpful within the eyes as a whole. For people suffering from glaucoma, cannabis can help reduce pressure and inflammation, slowing the degrading effects of the condition. It can improve vision and reduce physical responses in the eye.


Ready to put your senses to the test?

Cannabis has a dramatic effect on all five of our senses, which may be partly responsible for how it helps with our perception of pain, stress, and sour moods. Cannabis causes a unique kaleidoscope of effects and feelings, and that experience is meant to be explored. We challenge you to dazzle your senses at home and explore the sensory-enhancing effects first-hand. Start by getting weed delivery in DC at Flower Ave and see where the day takes you from there.

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