You've probably heard one of your friends tell you that when they smoke weed, they get high and are suddenly super creative. Your friends aren't the only people telling these stories. Cannabis is often linked to things like creativity. All over the Internet, in blogs, videos, even regular movies, you see a common cultural connection between artists doing beautiful pieces of work or writing entire movies or plays all while they are high. But it's important to truly examine the how and the why behind creativity and, of course, behind cannabis to figure out if there really is an authentic link and if there is, how you can benefit from it.
Firstly, research shows that creativity happens when the frontal lobe in your brain experiences an increased amount of cerebral blood flow. The more active that amount of blood in that specific part of your brain is, the more creative you will be.
Experiments regarding cannabis have found that cannabis consumption specifically increases the amount of cerebral blood flow to your frontal lobe. A lot of studies have confirmed these findings and places like Harvard Medical School have found that when people have higher levels of creativity, this doesn't of course mean higher levels of specific talent, but simply higher levels of engagement and creative thinking, as well as a higher level of activity in their frontal lobe. People are able to perform a task more effectively when they have higher levels of frontal lobe activity. Now, sure, you won't be able to go measure your own frontal lobe activity in the comfort of your home, but that doesn't mean that you can't capitalize on the idea.
Dr. Alice Weaver Flaherty, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School who specializes in deep brain stimulation found that those with high levels of creativity have increased blood flow to the prefrontal lobe. Cannabis can also stimulate that area of the brain, which is what makes people more creative after smoking cannabis.
Creative activity subsequently stimulates your output in one of two ways. The first way is by activating the nucleus accumbens inside of your brain, which increases your creative activity. The second is by activating higher levels of frontal lobe activity, which is where your divergent creativity comes from.
Divergent Versus Regular Creative Activity
Now it's time to look at these different types of thinking. Divergent thinking, or creativity, is a form of thinking where you sit and think over as many solutions as you can. All of these solutions take place in a nonlinear, free-flowing way. It's basically like brainstorming. You come up with creative ideas, brainstorming them at random, and usually end up with a lot of crazy, out-of-the-box concepts. You can scribble single ideas that seemingly come from nowhere and then, when you're at your less creative state, look back on what ideas you came up with and apply them.
In a lot of situations, these more divergent forms of thinking are what lead to more creative or imaginative concepts that adult life just doesn't simply produce anymore. If you are looking for an innovative idea, or if you want to find a new solution and free your mind to go in any direction at all, you can increase your divergent thinking with cannabis.
No matter the end game for your creative or divergent thinking, you can use cannabis, but just like many other substances, the amount you consume is key to your successful creative thinking. Think of alcohol. You might be able to drink a beer and then come up with some crazy idea for how you're going to win back your ex. But if you drink five, six, or twelve beers, you won't really be able to use that idea or come up with anything creative at all.
The same is true with cannabis. Some studies have concluded that low doses of cannabis, around 5.5 mg of THC, can improve the fluency and the flexibility of your creative thinking. The fluency of your creative thinking refers to the number of responses that you can generate, or the total number of ideas. The flexibility refers to the variation within those ideas. You could have a lot of flexibility but no variation and just come up with 17 different ways to say happy birthday in the same language or 17 ways to dress up your pet, but not come up with anything more exciting than those two single ideas and the same variations of them.
When you increase the dosage, you get higher levels of originality, which basically means you get unique responses. So, if you are trying to come up with something different than the norm, this amount of THC or slightly more can really help you. And if you need to have even more originality, up your dosage.
As soon as you get to 22 mg of THC, though, your score starts to go down. The 22 mg mark is about the point where you've had too much and all of your creativity in every direction is hampered. So, anywhere between 5 mg of THC and 22 mg is going to be perfect for increased creativity.
It can be hard to figure out how many mg of THC you are consuming in your average bowl or joint. You also have think about bioavailability. Bioavailability is the term for how "available" a certain nutrient or compound is to the body, or how easy it is for you body to absorb. Certain methods of consuming cannabis have a higher bioavailability, meaning you can absorb more cannabinoids using that method. The method with the best bio- availability is sublingual, which means it's absorbed under the tongue. Infused lollipops would be an awesome sublingual product to try!
The strain you are consuming also plays a role. Different strains have different levels of THC, and different concentrations of other cannabinoids and terpenes, making for a slightly different experience. Here is a chart of some of the most popular strains and their average THC level.
What Your Bring to the Table
Now, another concern is the existing creativity in one’s personality. Somebody who is already an artistic type, maybe taking classes or having a natural-born talent, is going to still have a higher creativity level after they take cannabis than someone who has no artistic talent whatsoever.
The good news is that if you're someone who falls into that category of not creative at all, smoking cannabis might actually help you get creative. There are two types of people out there: those who are highly creative and those who aren't. Those who are highly creative will notice some effect on their creativity when they consume cannabis, but it will not be nearly as much as people who have low creativity. Studies show that people who would consider themselves in that second category of no pre-existing talent get significantly higher boosts of creativity compared to people with a natural-born talent when they each consume the same levels of cannabis.
In the end, you should just do what works best for you. If you are still wondering how cannabis can affect your creativity and help you positively, play around with different dosages. Try different strains and see which one is best for you. Remember that no two people are exactly alike, so something that works for your friend might not work for you, and if you read about a very specific strain working for an artist, give it a try, but know that just because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean that all cannabis won't work for you.
Do you find cannabis plays a big role on your creativity? Let us know in the comments below!