smoking pot dark circles under eyes

An Expert Explains What Happens To Your Body When You Smoke Weed

It’s not just bloodshot eyes and munchies.

Whether you’re an avid stoner or never touched a joint in your life, chances are you’re familiar with the things that happen when you smoke weed. The drowsiness, the giggles, the sudden deep desire to discuss eighth grade philosophy, and other such overt symptoms are all the result of hidden processes going on in your body when you get high.

You probably have at least a vague understanding of how weed works: The chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, zips through your bloodstream after ingestion and interacts with parts of your brain like the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex to cause a high. It’s more complicated than that, of course, but the general concept isn’t difficult to grasp (unless you’ve had one too many pot brownies).

“The effects of marijuana depend in part on the strain of marijuana and whether the person is a chronic user or not,” Dr. Keith Heinzerling M.D., addiction medicine specialist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, tells Bustle. A giant hit of a high-THC strain will affect you very differently than if you have a tiny nibble on a pot cookie.

But what causes the red eyes? Why do some people experience cotton mouth or find it affects their sex life? Perhaps most importantly, what’s the deal with the munchies? Fortunately for the curious — or those who prefer to know what’s going on inside their bodies — there’s plenty of research devoted to answering these questions.

1. Dopamine Floods Your Brain

Like most drugs, cannabis’s high comes from the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with our brain’s reward system; as noted by a study in the National Institute of Drug Abuse, dopamine is responsible for “pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination, and sensory and time perception.”

“THC acts through cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body,” Heinzerling says. Using these receptors, THC stimulates the release of dopamine in large amounts, causing feelings of euphoria. It’s this reaction that’s responsible for the “high” you feel after using cannabis. Heinzerling adds that dopamine isn’t the only thing that’s affected by weed; it also alters other receptors for neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin, which influence your mood. Your particular flavor of high depends on which neurotransmitters are impacted.

2. Body Fluids Dry Up

Talk about a mood killer. A study published in Journal Of Sexual Medicine in 2010 found that weed can temporarily dry up mucus membranes throughout your body, including your vagina — hence the term “cotton vagina” that’s been, well, cottoning on in some circles. Other mucus membranes in your body include your eyes and mouth, so you may feel dryness effects in those regions too, depending on the strain of cannabis and your individual reactions to them.

3. Your Blood Pressure Drops

Weed causes blood vessels across your body to dilate, creating a drop in blood pressure. This is most apparent in your eyes; as your blood vessels expand, they appear red, and your pupils may become dilated — this is what gives people the “bloodshot” look in their eyes after using cannabis. Simultaneously, breathing passages relax and open up, which contributes to the feeling of relaxation and calm that some people experience during a high.

4. Your Senses Get More Intense

You might notice that in addition to the depressive effects of a slower heart rate and the widening of your breathing passages, your senses also seem more acute — you may notice different smells, touches, or other sensations that you might not normally note, or experience them in more intense degrees.

This is because, in addition to triggering the release of dopamine, THC binds to brain receptors associated with your senses of smell and taste, which has been shown to heighten their sensitivity. Combined with the side effect of pupil dilation, many of your senses can become temporarily heightened. This is the reason that THC affects your cognition and coordination when you’re very high, Keinzrling says – and it’s why driving while stoned is a bad idea.

5. Your Heart Rate Increases

Despite the fact that weed is used for many as a relaxant, what you may not realize is that smoking weed is known to speed up your heart rate for up to three hours after getting high; the dilation of your blood vessels causes the muscles in your heart to work harder to pump blood. Heinzerling says THC can also heighten your risk of anxiety and panic attacks, which make the heart pound rapidly. Although a quick heart rate is often harmless, the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that a racing heart rate can increase your chances of having a heart attack, especially when combined with the drop in blood pressure.

6. Your Sense Of Hunger Is Distorted

Even if you don’t smoke, you’re no doubt familiar with the munchies. Researchers (and stoners) have long known that cannabis increases appetite, and recently, science has begun to shed light on the reason. “THC is responsible for most of the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis use including the high as well as increased appetite (“munchies”),” Heinzerling says. According to a 2015 study published in Nature Neuroscience, THC “flips a switch,” so to speak, on the neurons that were previously responsible for telling your body to stop eating. When you get high, these neurons begin signaling that you’re actually starving — and suddenly you find yourself in the Taco Bell parking lot surrounded by what used to be seven burritos.

Readers should note that laws governing cannabis, hemp and CBD are evolving, as is information about the efficacy and safety of those substances. As such, the information contained in this post should not be construed as legal or medical advice. Always consult your physician prior to trying any substance or supplement.

Keith Heinzerling M.D.

Crean, R. D., Crane, N. A., & Mason, B. J. (2011). An evidence based review of acute and long-term effects of cannabis use on executive cognitive functions. Journal of addiction medicine, 5(1), 1–8.

Koch, M., Varela, L., Kim, J. et al. (2015) Hypothalamic POMC neurons promote cannabinoid-induced feeding. Nature519, 45–50.

Prashad, S., & Filbey, F. M. (2017). Cognitive motor deficits in cannabis users. Current opinion in behavioral sciences, 13, 1–7.

Smith, A. M., Ferris, J. A., Simpson, J. M., Shelley, J., Pitts, M. K., & Richters, J. (2010). Cannabis use and sexual health. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(2 Pt 1), 787–793.

Winton-Brown, T. T., Allen, P., Bhattacharyya, S., Borgwardt, S. J., Fusar-Poli, P., Crippa, J. A., Seal, M. L., Martin-Santos, R., Ffytche, D., Zuardi, A. W., Atakan, Z., & McGuire, P. K. (2011). Modulation of auditory and visual processing by delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol: an FMRI study. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 36(7), 1340–1348.

This article was originally published on Feb. 11, 2016

Whether you’re an avid stoner or never touched cannabis in your life, chances are you’re familiar with the things that happen when you smoke weed.

Does Smoking Weed Cause Bags Under Eyes and Wrinkles?

Does Smoking Weed Cause Bags Under Eyes Wrinkles and Other Problems?

A memorable, anti-smoking, public service announcements are the anti-smoking ones, which states that tobacco smoke can damage your skin and cause premature aging. It is true that smoking tobacco can cause your skin to prematurely wrinkle by narrowing your skin’s outer blood vessels that impedes the blood flow to your skin, and less blood flow means your skin will not get all the oxygen and nutrients (vitamin A”) that is needed for your skin. Click Here for the article.

You may be thinking, okay, we all know smoking is bad for you. But, is cannabis smoke harmful your skin, and does it cause problems like eye bags and dark eye circles. I will attempt to answer this question and give you avenues to research this on your own. So, read on for further details.

Does Weed Cause Wrinkles?

Marijuana smoke tends to constrict blood vessels, which results in restricted blood flow and kills off blood cells. This can cause harm to your skin. Additionally, cannabis smoke contains a high amount of hydrocarbons. When they touch your skin, hydrocarbons reduces the manufacturing of collagen that your skin needs. The lack of collagen can cause the following damaging effects: premature aging, wrinkles, and also, you may your skin elasticity may be damaged. Smoking marijuana can also worsen chronic skin conditions like rosacea and psoriasis. Wrinkles and other bad effects of smoking cannabis gradually appear, and according to the Mayo Clinic, they will only likely be recognizable after ten years of smoking cannabis.

Cannabis May Not Be All That Bad For Your Skin

At least according to one study, Moderate THC use may actually help with wrinkles. These studies indicate that THC found in cannabis has anti-oxidant properties that can help slow down your skin’s aging and slow down your skin wrinkling. One doctor even went so far as to compare responsible cannabis use to a nightly glass of wine.

Is Weed Smoke As Bad As Tobacco?

All smoke, cannabis, tobacco, etc., is pretty much the same. And any smoke is not good for your skin. However, in most situations, tobacco smoking results in more smoke exposure to your skin.
For example, in 2016, the average cigarette smoker smoked 14 cigarettes a day, which means their skin will (at least) be exposed to tobacco smoke fourteen times daily. Not many cannabis smokers will smoke fourteen joints in a day. Therefore, it is not a stretch to say that (assuming you just smoke weed) that a marijuana smoker’s skin will encounter less smoke than someone who smokes tobacco. Additionally, as stated before, responsible THC use may actually be beneficial to the skin.

Weed and Bags Under Your Eyes

Eye Bag under your eyes will get worse as your age. Eye bags occur when your skin tissues and muscles around your eyelids weaken, which results in “bags” of fat accumulating into the lower eyelids. Additionally, this lower eyelid tends to fill up with fluid, which adds to the puffy look.

The following will worsen these eye bags:

• Fluid-Having a salty meal will make this worse.
• Genetics-Just like baldness or lousy vision, unsightly bags under your eye can be a family trait.
• Sun-Too much sun can cause this issue.
• Allergies-
• Smoking-Mixed studies on this when it comes to cannabis.

Preventing and Reducing Bags Under Eyes

If you simply want to get rid of your eye bags (assuming you are NOT going to quit smoking weed), it really doesn’t matter why you have dark circles under your eye. It does matter though how to either prevent the condition or make it better.

The number one way is to change Your consumption habits. Marijuana smoke itself is what can harm you and not the THC. Reduced exposure to marijuana smoke will mean that you will have a lesser chance of getting dark circles or eye bags. This means that, if you are worried about the eye-bags, you should stay away from pipes and especially joints instead of vaping and edibles.

Here is some good advice from the Mayo Clinic on other ways to prevent this unsightly problem:
• Get Enough Sleep-Lack of sleep is a significant reason for this problem.
• Deal With Allergies-Allergies that affect your sinuses tend to cause swelling on your lower eyelids.
• Drink Less Alcohol, and Caffeine-Both alcohol and caffeine can cause dehydration.
• Quit Cigarettes-Smoking cigarettes has been proven to cause this problem.
• Take It Easy On The Salt- Too much salt will make your eyes puffy.
• Wash Your Face-Before going to bed wash your face. Also, remove any makeup and use eye cremes when you are sleeping.
• Limit Sun Exposure- Also, use sunscreen and wear sunscreen and a hat while outdoors.

Does Smoking Weed Cause Dark Circles Under Your Eyes?

Unsightly dark circles are another problem that cannabis smokers attribute to their smoking. As it implies, dark circles happen when the skin under your eyes turns, noticeably, dark. Per the Mayo Clinic, they can be caused by several factors, like:
• Hay Fever
• Not Enough sleep
• Genetic
• Too Much Sun
• Age

Can Weed Smoking Cause Dark Circles?

Other than anecdotal accounts, I was unable to find anything scientific studies whether or not weed does cause you to have dark circles or eyebags. There are though ways for you to prevent and help reduce these problems, some of which are the following techniques from Healthline:
• Cold-Apply ice or other cold substance to your eyes. This will help with the blood vessels in your eyes.
• Elevation While Sleeping-Elevate your head while sleeping, which will help prevent any puffiness in your eyes.
• Sleep- Getting some extra sleep will help the circles and eye bags less noticeable.


Some studies are showing moderate cannabis smoking (because of the THC) can be beneficial for your skin. However, excess exposure to cannabis smoke has been shown to cause premature aging. However, if you are worried about the premature wrinkles and aging, you should do the following:
• If Applicable Quit Smoking Tobacco-Tobacco has no positive effects, whatsoever on your skin.
• Try vaping, edibles, etc.-Get your cannabis fix by methods that either reduce or eliminate smoke.
• Hygiene-Get into a daily habit of washing your face, using moisturizer.

There are many reasons why you would get bags and dark circles under your eyes. For example, as stated earlier, lack of sleep and genetics may cause you to have this problem. So, if you are worried about eye bags, you should take the above preventative steps that I listed in this article, and you should lessen the chance of getting wrinkles, bags under your eyes, dark circles under your eyelids

Smoking tobacco has been proven to cause wrinkles and also unsightly bags under the eyes. Do weed smokers have that same problem? Find out more by . . .