Smoking herbal incense effects

Herbal incense can mimic the effects of cannabis. But users report more adverse than positive effects when smoking herbal incense. More here.

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When attempting to discuss the effects of herbal ‘incense’ (synthetic cannabinoids) it is first important to keep three points in mind:

1. Herbal incense is a generic name for products containing synthetic cannabinoids (more commonly JWH but now including second generation compounds such as AM 1220, AM 2223, AM 2201, AM 1248 etc.). It is called herbal incense to bypass laws prohibiting the advertising of smoking herbal incense ingredients and mixtures that have not been approved by the relevant authorities. Nobody uses it as incense.

2. Although synthetic cannabinoids were created back in the 1970s it is only since 2002 that they have been widely available to consumers. This means that, compared to other drugs such as marijuana, we do not have that much data on the effects of synthetic weed.

3. The effects of synthetic cannabinoids seem to vary greatly from individual to individual. e.g. some users say that effects last for no longer than 30 minutes, while others say that they can last for up to 5 hours.

How similar is herbal incense to marijuana?

Synthetic cannabinoids are so-called because their effects do, to a certain degree, mimic those of marijuana. This is because both marijuana and synthetic weed bind to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which control such functions as short term memory and appetite. However, synthetic cannabinoids seem to have a much greater affinity for the CB1 receptors which accounts for its strong psychotropic properties. Some research has also shown that JWH-018, the most commonly used of these synthetic cannabinoids due to its apparent similarities to cannabis, is also far more potent than cannabis.

Aside from its effects, the reasons herbal incense is closely associated with cannabis because it is herbal in nature (although the herbs themselves have no psychoactive effects) and it is smoked in joints.

Side effects of herbal incense

Herbal incense is different from cannabis in that it does not increase libido or add to music appreciation. It seems to be more of a ‘dirty high’ (i.e. a feeling that you’re just using it to get off your face) without the spiritual aspect of cannabis smoking. Even among users, opinion is divided as to the validity of comparing herbal incense with cannabis with some claiming it is identical to cannabis and others claiming it is a different beast altogether. Some of the similar side effects of smoking herbal incense and smoking marijuana which are documented include:

  • feelings of euphoria
  • increased appetite
  • lethargy
  • red eye
  • heavy limbs
  • paranoia

Where synthetic cannabinoids really differ from cannabis is in how often users experience negative effects. Many record how, after smoking herbal incense they have experienced:

  • heart palpitations
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • intense fear of death
  • irrational behavior
  • panic attacks
  • psychosis

Can I get addicted to herbal incense?

Yes, herbal incense is both physically and psychologically addictive. Where herbal incense most definitely does not differ from cannabis is in its potential for abuse and addiction. On the internet (and this blog) there are countless stories of how individuals have become dependent on synthetic cannabinoids. The withdrawal symptoms are very similar to marijuana withdrawal symptoms, and usually require no medical intervention, although it’s always wise to have medical supervision during a drug detox.

Herbal incense questions

Are you smoking too much herbal incense? Do you wonder what herbal incense can do in the long term? Are you frightened that you might be addicted to legal weed? Please leave your questions below. We will do our best to answer you promptly and personally.

About the author
Charles Somerville is the writer of The Alcoholism Guide, a website that looks at alcoholism in all its forms and the effects of alcohol abuse on mental and physical health.
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