Music can elicit a sense of euphoria that, in some ways, could be regarded as a high in itself. As you lay back with your headphones on and tuned in to your favorite song, goosebumps begin dancing along your arms. Tears may swell in your eyes, too.
After using cannabis, these effects become even more intense. It isn’t just “stoner babble,”. The science is in: cannabis affects how your brain processes music in various ways. Music and cannabis both have positive, healing effects on the brain, as well.
CBD, one of the main compounds found in cannabis, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This is widely beneficial to those who suffer from chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis or IBS.
Similarly, a 2017 Pain Physician Journal review found music reduced physical and psychological symptoms in participants with various chronic pain conditions.
The best part? Hemp-based CBD products are legal throughout most of the United States and many other parts of the world and are available at any reputable cannabis store . Music is entirely legal, too, of course! And neither of them harbors the adverse side effects associated with traditional treatment options.
Listening to music might be your favorite way to unwind after a long day, but it's also becoming a tool to help patients relax during various medical procedures.
Studies on the effects of playing music during dental extractions, colonoscopies, and other surgical procedures showed a significant decrease in the participants’ anxiety levels. This was especially evident by how listening to music lowered their blood pressure.
Cannabis has anxiolytic properties, as well. However, the effectiveness of reducing anxiety via cannabis varies depending on the type of strain you choose.
A 2018 Frontiers in Neuroscience Journal study surveyed medical marijuana patients on how they felt cannabis affected their anxiety. On a scale from 0 to 10 (with 10 being “extremely effective”), the participants gave cannabis an average score of 8.03.
Strains higher in THC and terpenes such as β-Caryophyllene and D-limonene were rated more effective by the participants.
The brain processes music throughout multiple regions, from the auditory cortex to the limbic system (which regulates emotions and memories).
While a 2011 International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology study says cannabis “dampened” the rewarding effects of music in various brain regions, they found that it increased the striatum's reward response. This part of the brain is responsible for reward and motivation, which may explain why cannabis increases the urge to listen to music.
Synesthesia occurs when another part of the brain mistakenly processes a stimulus. For example, you may read the word “math” and associate it with the color blue. Or perhaps, even see it in the color blue.
Fifty-six percent of cannabis users in a 2013 Frontiers in Psychology Journal review said they experience a mild form of synesthesia that causes them to associate music with various colors.
According to a 2001 PNAS Journal Study, music affects regions in the brain responsible for reward and pleasure, inducing a sense of euphoria. This region contains the same circuits that activate while eating food, having sex, or using drugs.
Although CBD and THC come from the same plant, they have very different effects on the brain. Often, CBD balances out the intensity of the high from THC. This also appears to play out in how cannabis affects emotional processing in the brain.
In a 2015 European Neuropsychopharmacology study , researchers assessed participants’ abilities to recognize the emotions of various facial expressions. CBD increased their ability to accurately identify the emotions by 60 percent, whereas THC impaired their scores by 40 percent. Together, THC and CBD produced no significant improvement or impairment.
Therefore, cannabis strains high in CBD may increase your ability to recognize and empathize with the emotion of a song.
Researchers often measure creativity by assessing the participant’s divergent thinking skills. Divergent thinking requires generating multiple creative ideas to reach an open-ended solution.
A 2012 Consciousness and Cognition Journal study found cannabis increased divergent thinking among participants in multiple domains — including verbal fluency.
In theory, the increase in verbal fluency and the ability to engage in more free-flowing thoughts may enhance how you perceive the song. Listening to music from a more “creative perspective” could intensify how it makes you feel.
Musician’s brains have been a subject of scientific study for decades. Much like a journalist seeks to pick a musician’s brain to find out the genius behind their work, neuroscientists want to know how such a talent affects connectivity in the brain.
According to a 2015 Progress in Brain Research Journal review , repeated playing an instrument strengthens connections throughout the brain . This increases brain plasticity- the brain’s ability to change and grow throughout your life.
Increasing brain plasticity is important for preventing and treating dementia, brain trauma, and other neurological conditions. Cannabis could also reduce neuroinflammation, which would allow the brain to heal more effectively in patients with such conditions.
Cannabis and music affect the brain in many positive ways, from reducing your pain and stress response to boosting creative thinking and supporting healthy brain growth. Additionally, using cannabis affects how your brain processes music, allowing you to hear songs from enriched perspectives.