The Science Behind the Marijuana Munchies

Marijuana, also known as weed, cannabis, pot, or dope, is the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It contains the mind-altering compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), alongside other active compounds like cannabidiol (CBD) and terpenes, which are non-psychoactive. These chemical compounds in marijuana plants can help assuage symptoms related to some health issues. For instance, marijuana has been used to reduce anxiety, relieve pain, relax tight muscles, and even slow tumor growth.

For this reason, an increasing number of countries are making it legal to use the plant medicinally to treat specific conditions. However, research focused on the whole plant and how it works to treat these conditions is still lacking.

That said, certain side effects are commonly recognized, even if they haven’t been extensively studied. One such effect is called the ‘munchies.’ This is nothing but increased appetite that occurs due to chemical compounds in marijuana reacting within the brain.

A Brief History of Marijuana

Marijuana has a long history of human use. In ancient cultures, the plant was grown for use as medicine, especially in Asia around 500 B.C. The history of cannabis cultivation in North America dates back to the early colonists who grew hemp for textiles and rope. Though marijuana has been criminalized in many countries during the 20th century, its legal status is currently changing in many places.

Canada was one of the first countries to legalize weed under the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The resultant use of recreational cannabis led to the creation of a booming industry, which continues to produce a wide array of innovative products, from edibles to tinctures and transdermal patches.

What Marijuana Does to the Brain and Body

Weed may affect your body differently, depending on how you ingest it. When you smoke marijuana, the compounds pass into your lungs and are then quickly released into your bloodstream, making their way into your brain and other organs. When you ingest marijuana by eating or drinking it, it takes longer to feel the effects.

Different people experience different physical and psychological effects related to marijuana use, from harm and discomfort to pain relief and relaxation. Marijuana’s appetite-enhancing properties (the munchies) are one of the more commonly experienced effects.

Research suggests that the THC in cannabis interacts with ghrelin, a hormone secreted by the stomach that stimulates appetite. THC is a psychoactive compound present in cannabis that is often associated with the high. Although there hasn’t yet been significant research on the munchies, science is also aware of the phenomenon. Synthetic THC is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat people suffering from HIV-induced anorexia due to its appetite-enhancing properties.

Why Do We Get the Munchies?

Various studies involving cannabis have proven that THC stimulates the endocannabinoid system—a complex area of the brain that regulates appetite, emotion, pain, and your sense of smell and taste. It also enhances the release of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger.

The scientific mechanisms are quite complex, but in simple words, THC binds to the receptors in the olfactory bulb in the brain, enhancing your sensitivity to smell and thereby making food aromas more potent and appealing. Other studies have shown that consuming marijuana usurps the neurons that normally control your satiety level.

Additionally, THC boosts the release of dopamine, which can make everything you do while under the influence of marijuana seem more enjoyable than usual, including eating. For people dealing with a reduced appetite or eating disorder, using cannabis can be an efficient treatment.

What To Do When You Get the Munchies

Now that you can buy weed online in Canada, you may find yourself consuming more than you once did—which means you might be dealing with the munchies more frequently. Extra calories can mean unwanted weight gain. What’s more, if you find yourself constantly raiding the pantry at night, you might be setting yourself up for indigestion, heartburn, and interrupted sleep.

A significant step you can take to handle the munchies is to ensure healthy snacks are available. Food items like popcorn, tortilla chips, and veggie sticks will cure your hunger without adding too many calories. Additionally, try keeping yourself busy so your mind won’t think about hunger or food. You can also indulge in a workout like cycling, swimming, or yoga to burn off the extra calories.

Deal With the Munchies

Whether you decide to use marijuana or not, the best way to summarize its role in appetite is that it helps the brain ensure your survival by making sure that you eat. After all, you can’t survive and thrive unless you’re properly nourished.

Stocking up on healthy snacks, staying occupied while using marijuana, and being sure to keep up a healthy amount of exercise are all steps to help you manage the munchies.
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OCC Staff

Oregon Cannabis Connections capable staff or contributors. Contributors names will be noted. OCCNewspaper.com, covering the Oregon Cannabis Community and beyond, since 2010!

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