While publicized and marketed as burning incense, herbal incense is most commonly smoked as a designer drug to obtain a marijuana-like high. Herbal incense contains synthetic marijuana cannabinoids which are known to trigger euphoric sensations in the brain. While no official reports on the toxicity and safety of herbal incense have been produced by the American Food and Drug Administration, there are several dangers of smoking synthetic marijuana and negative health side effects associated with herbal incense that should be considered before use. Herbal incense side effects are physical, psychological, and have the potential to cause long term harm to the body and mind.
Herbal incense has become very popular in recent years as a legal marijuana alternative. Users of the product indicate a euphoric sensation in the brain, similar to that of marijuana, when herbal incense fumes are inhaled directly. Synthetic marijuana effects are brought on by the cannabinoids JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47497 and cannabicyclohexanol, which are responsible for the marijuana “high” feeling when persons inhale herbal incense smoke. Synthetic marijuana was first created by the Clemson University Organic Chemistry Professor John W. Huffman to study the impact of cannabinoids on the brain, organs, and body. It was discovered that the synthetic cannabinoids bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain which modulate the body’s central nervous system, immune system, memory, and metabolic state. While the JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47497 and cannabicyclohexanol components within herbal incense have been temporarily declared a Schedule I controlled substance by the Federal Government of the United States, there are alternate variations of these cannabinoids that are still legally available.
Synthetic Marijuana Effects
Smoking herbal incense produces the euphoric sensation in the brain most commonly referred to as a “head high”. Users of herbal incense relate the feeling to that which is experienced when smoking actual marijuana. Most users smoke herbal incense for the euphoric synthetic marijuana effects including an overall feeling of intoxication and relaxation. Herbal incense has been claimed to produce feelings of calmness and introspection similar to that of cannabis. Other euphoric sensations experienced when smoking herbal incense include distorted perceptions of reality and dream-like feelings of well-being.
In comparison to cannabis, herbal incense users note that the elated sensation experienced when inhaling synthetic marijuana is not as pronounced and is not long lasting. Persons who inhale herbal incense have expressed that the euphoric synthetic marijuana effects typically do not last longer than 10 minutes. This is in comparison to marijuana users, who on average note the head-high of cannabis lasting half an hour to an hour.
Herbal Incense Side Effects
There are many dangers of smoking synthetic marijuana and negative herbal incense side effects that are important to understand before inhaling the product’s fumes. First and foremost, herbal incense is not designed to be inhaled and the harsh fumes wreak havoc on the throat and lungs. Many users have experienced a deep burning sensation in the throat and lungs that continues to persist after smoking the product. In addition to burning the throat and lungs, herbal incense also dehydrates of mouth, producing what smokers refer to as “cotton mouth”. Inhaling herbal incense is also known to make eyes red and irritated.
Other physical negative herbal incense side effects include impaired reaction time and coordination. Herbal incense can also increase blood pressure, surge the heart rate, cause pulmonary palpitations, and decrease blood flow to the brain. These are all serious dangers of smoking synthetic marijuana which can cause long lasting damage to the body. The chemicals within herbal incense also have been attributed to headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and even fainting when fumes are inhaled directly. Users have also experienced an overall feeling of lethargy and lack of strength when smoking herbal incense.
Dangers of Smoking Synthetic Marijuana
Psychological effects of inhaling herbal incense are vast and are equally as damaging as the physical effects. Psychological dangers of smoking synthetic marijuana include bouts of panic attacks, paranoia, anxiety, agitation and depression. This is thought to be cause by CB1 receptors in the brain responding negatively to the JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47497 and cannabicyclohexanol synthetic cannabinoids. Herbal incense can also cause delusions, hallucinations, and irrational behavior when smoked in large quantities. Short-term memory loss is also a psychological side effect synonymous with smoking herbal incense. Diminished short-term memory is believed to be caused by cannabinoids weakening the bonds between neurons that are essential in memory creation.
Additional psychological herbal incense side effects can include a distorted sense of perception and time, confusion, and in some cases, increased appetite. Smokers who inhale herbal incense are warned not to use the product in combination with alcohol. Mixing the two typically results in severe migraine headaches and nausea.
Herbal Incense Addiction
Although herbal incense side effects on the human body have not fully been tested, it has been suggested that consistent inhalation over long periods of time can result in addiction. This is based on the fact that euphoric synthetic marijuana effects created by the synthetic cannabinoids decreases with prolonged use. As the body becomes more tolerant of synthetic marijuana, the herbal incense users must inhale larger quantities of the product in order to obtain the original high. Overtime, an unhealthy dependence may be created that could result in overdose.
Those that suddenly stop smoking herbal incense are said to experience withdrawal symptoms similar to that of marijuana. Withdrawal symptoms of herbal incense may include depression, anxiety, aggression and decreased appetite. The negative side effects associated with synthetic marijuana have caused several government agencies to take action and institute an herbal incense ban.