The Science Behind the Munchies and Why We Get Them

September 19, 2019 04:08 pm ET
The Science Behind the Munchies and Why We Get Them

What goes well with a blunt? A tray of snacks for afterward. My personal favorite snack to satisfy the munchies? Anything covered in chocolate. Munchies are a fortunate side effect of consuming a cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from cannabis. Munchies are a feeling of hunger that one experiences after having consumed cannabis. It is just one of the many side effects that one can experience after consumption. It can make your body want to eat more, even if it’s not hungry. 

How The Munchies Happen

The cannabinoids in weed react to the cannabinoids that our bodies produce naturally and stimulate certain areas. Those areas include, but are not limited to, our memory, pain, and appetite. Munchies is a byproduct of the stimulation of our appetite. The munchies can affect any person that consumes cannabis orally and many welcome it. The reason we get munchies is simple; THC stimulates the part of your brain controlling your appetite. There is also evidence that displays how THC stimulates the ghrelin hormone, which makes you hungry. The food smells better, it tastes better and you’ll want to eat all of it. 

The ghrelin hormone is generally released when our stomachs are empty, to tell our brain that it is time to eat. The consumption of cannabis has proven to trigger that same process: the generation of the hormone to send the brain an “I’m hungry” message. This alone is enough to explain why we get the munchies. However, this was all recently discovered. Research on the munchies is limited but originated with the study of how THC affects the brain. THC takes appetite suppressant neurons captive and manipulates them to make you think you are hungry. 

 Another part of your brain, which the THC taps into to cause the munchies, is called the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb is the primary smell center in our brains. THC essentially charges the olfactory bulb through receptors in the brain. This means that your sense of smell will be enhanced while under the influence of cannabis. This is significant because we cannot separate hunger and smell. Our biological structure ensures that when we are (or think we are) hungry, our olfactory bulb enhances our sense of smell. An enhanced sense of smell means that we are more likely to seek out food. 

The Munchies Can Speed Up Metabolism

The idea of eating a lot, when you may not actually be hungry, is a scary concept for many. However, cannabis-related increase in appetite (the munchies) should be embraced and used to its’ full potential. Here’s why you should embrace the munchies too. Cannabis can speed up your metabolism. Studies show that cannabis consumers, as a population, are slimmer and have a lesser rate of obesity and diabetes than those who don’t consume it. I have personally experienced an increase in appetite while getting slimmer since I started regularly consuming cannabis. Regular cannabis consumers have proven to eat around 600 more calories than the average person while losing weight (best case), or not picking up any weight at all (worst case). The healthier the food you snack on, the higher your chances of weight loss. Studies suggest that cannabis can also increase the amount of energy that you spend, which means that you need to fuel your body with more food for more energy. Luckily for you, the munchies are there to help. 

In short, THC starts a ghrelin hormone surge, activates neurons to make you think you are hungry and boosts our sense of smell, which all contribute to giving you the munchies. The increase in metabolism is yet another fortunate side-effect of cannabis consumption. This benefit is also significant when illnesses involving digestion and appetite. The stimulation of appetite from THC is far more valuable than potential weight loss, it is also a promising candidate for dealing with illnesses that involve appetite loss, which reduces the quality of life. Cannabis and its’ munchies, as a method of dealing with such illnesses, will be explored in another article. 

Stay tuned, keep lifted and remember to embrace the munchies.

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