Some of the compounds found in cannabis can stimulate your appetite. Those who have tried cannabis can attest, one of the after-effects is a sudden and strong desire for food.
Researchers are continuing to better understand the “munchies” phenomenon, and say it all seems to come down to the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Research suggests that cannabis can trigger multiple cellular switches in the body, some of which are linked to sudden food cravings. The cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, found mainly along the nervous and immune systems, are thought to play a key role in human metabolism, nutrient transport, and appetite.
What causes the munchies?
Recent studies suggest that cannabinoids in cannabis, like THC, are able to induce the munchies through their interaction with CB1 receptors. These receptors can affect the olfactory cortex, a region of the brain that receives direct input from smell senses. Research further suggests that through their interaction with THC, these CB1 receptors are essentially ‘used’ by the cannabinoid to manipulate the olfactory system and produce chemicals that temporarily increase the sense of smell. And, as a result, your appetite increases.
There is emerging evidence to suggest that THC can trick the brain into making it think the body needs food by activating pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons, which signal fullness. POMC neurons fail to shut off this hunger signal while under the influence of THC. Instead of shutting off, they are ramped up which in turn sends a large amount of these signals directly to the brain.
Munchies and a healthy diet?
If you get the munchies after consuming cannabis and are concerned about weight gain, it may be a good idea to make sure healthy snacks are available without taking in too much sugar.
A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition. Eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats, can make a huge difference.