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Why Does Weed Make You Hungry

Munchies. That’s what we call it. It is the feeling of hunger after consuming or smoking weed. Why does it happen Is this side effect a good one, or a bad one Learn more about this interesting effect that weed has.

The term “munchies” is often said to have been used first in the topic on ‘being stoned’ in 1971, by Charles T. Tart. The mental condition of 150 weed users was observed. Recently, however, the attention of the study has been directed on the neurological processes behind these so-called munchies.

Experts believe that this effect was caused by the psychoactive component found in cannabis, called the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), along with its interaction along with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, specifically with a receptor called the CB1. More about this will be discussed below.

If you have tried smoking your favorite weed, most likely, you have also experienced feeling hungry afterwards. You may even have felt that you have reached the point of starving as you start devouring your favorite food. Why is this so

The Science Behind the Munchies

Science has its own explanation as to why weed gives its users the munchies. Fanatics and experts in the medical industry alike have already known for quite a long time that weed increases appetite. According to an article from The Washington Post, Neurobiologist Tamas Horvath from the Yale University School of Medicine explains that nobody has ever really known what drives the munchies. However, through an accidental finding, their group found out that weed tricks the brain into thinking that it is starving, even though the stomach may be full.

The situation is pretty much similar to that of pressing the brakes of a car and accelerating instead. It is quite surprising that the neurons which have been thought like the ones responsible for stopping the desire to eat are the same neurons that that were activated suddenly, thus promoting hunger, even when you are still full. The central feeding system of the brain is fooled.

The brain produces its own cannabinoids. These substances are lipids which help in controlling the memory, mood, pain reception and appetite. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, produced in weed attaches to the cannabinoid receptors of the brain, copying the same chemicals.

The group also discovered that THC produces a chemical that signals the neurons, making them tell the hypothalamus that you are hungry. This is true even if you just had your dinner and are still full. The same discovery also led to the finding that weed also impacts the cannabinoid receptors in the olfactory bulb, not just making food taste and smell more intense, but it also affects the amount of food that you eat. While the experiments have been conducted on mice, additional research may still be needed in order to determine if this is also applicable to humans.

Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

While this may sound technical, knowing how the endocannabinoid system works really helps in understanding why we feel hungry after smoking weed. As starters, it is a natural process of the body to produce endocannabinoids.

As a matter of fact, an entire system, the endocannabinoid system, is present in the body. The system’s role is to use the cannabinoids to help in controlling memory, emotions, sensitivity to pain, and appetite. Other things are involved as well. After the leptin or ghrelin triggers the hypothalamus, it then releases the needed endocannabinoids which activates specific receptors in the brain, especially the CB1 or cannabinoid receptor type 1.

These receptors send the messages throughout the entire body, thus causing a specific reaction, including fullness, pain relief, mellowness, euphoria, and hunger. The body also produces just enough endocannabinoids which influence the mood.

The Impact of Weed

The moment that cannabinoids hit your brain, your sense of smell is activated. As such, two things usually happen. One, weed makes you become better susceptible to food smells. Two, weed makes any food taste even better. This is because a huge part of the sense of taste is the smell.

This means that you are not just able to really smell food even from a distance, but you also feel the motivation to eat because you know that the food will definitely taste good. The cannabinoids that are present in the brain may also enhance the palatability of sucrose, which means that you will start to crave sugar, as well as other sugary snacks.

Afterwards, the cannabinoids that are found in weed mimic the endocannabinoids in the body that signal hunger. These cannabinoids often referred to as invaders, interact with the hypothalamus, thus making it produce more ghrelin, which is the substance that you are already low on ‘fuel’.

If you are wondering whether weed making you hungry is a good thing or not, the reality is that it actually depends on how you actually look at it. If obesity is your problem, then it is important to figure out how these munchies should be taken care of.

Still, an increase in appetite is something that is also appreciated by some, especially when it comes to individuals and patients who are dealing with cancer treatment. Patients often find it difficult to eat, or even make food stay in their body. Since calories are needed and are delivered best through food, smoking weed can help in increasing appetite. In these scenarios, smoking weed offers a number of benefits, including controlling nausea, allowing their bodies to keep what they eat.

How to Control the Munchies

Sometimes, the level of munchies that you can expect highly depends on the strain of weed that you smoke. Still, if you want to keep on smoking but still avoid piling up those unneeded pounds, there are certain things that you can do in order to control the hunger.

  • Work Out While High

Exercising while high is a good idea in order to control your munchies. While it may not sound really cool, it is often found to work well. You can teach your brain to do some physical activity after getting high. In this way, you will be distracting your brain from the possible emergence of munchies right after smoking.

  • Choose Healthy Snacks

If you find it difficult to control the munchies, why not give in to it, yet still make sure that you are only consuming healthy options This means including vegetables, as well as other healthy items on your list. In this way, you do not have to end up feeling guilty after eating a lot ofpot smoking.

  • Keep Food Out of Hand

If you have storage filled with food at home, you will most likely end up giving in to your munchies. On the other hand, if you distance yourself from food, you might have a chance of avoiding them. One way to do so is by taking a walk after getting high, but not to the direction where food is. You can also try some activities that will keep your brain from thinking about food.

  • Try Another Strain

As mentioned, the level of munchies that you will feel after smoking may have something to do with your chosen strain. Different strains often deliver different levels of high. Why not try to experiment with some of them and see the results on you. In the end, you may be able to find a strain that will give you a high without having to lead you to the kitchen.

Possible Therapeutic Benefits

Even though the desire and the urge to eat more than usual might be considered as an undesired result of smoking weed, experts believe that there are still some benefits involved. For one, weed is now being used as a treatment for individuals who are dealing with cancer, especially those who need to go through chemotherapy. Weed does not just help in reducing nausea, but also to stimulate appetite. Weed also helps in getting more calories, while improving the flavor of food. Cancer patients who go through chemotherapy may often find their food-unfriendly to their palate if they receive treatment.

Scientists are also exploring the possibility of using weed as a potential treatment for overeating. In fact, it is found to help patients who are going through different kinds of disorders that are linked with eating. For instance, weed is found to be good potential in treating obesity. It is often thought that the thought competition between drugs and food for the very same reward sites within the brain may be the reason for this.

Still, it should be understood that even though feeling the munchies may be common among weed users, reality dictates that not all users go hungry. One reason behind this is because the side effect can be regarded as dose-dependent. Dedicated and long-time stoners may have already passed the munchies stage already. Regular and heavy users no longer experience this feeling, though these munchies are reported commonly among recreational users.

Weed and Curbing Appetite

The study involving the effects of cannabis on appetite has not gone unnoticed by the experts in the medical industry. Years back, it was thought that if the munchies were the result of THC stimulating feeding receptors, thus an increase in eating high carbs. This made them think of a good way to design a specific drug which can potentially block those receptors.

What they came up with was a test that could check whether the feeding centers can be manipulated. This will then play a huge role in determining any urge to eat. The drug was tested, and people were observed to lose weight, even giving up their interest in eating fries, cheeseburgers,and alcohol.

Eventually, however, researchers realized that it was not completely safe to block all endocannabinoid receptors from a person’s body because it is the very same endocannabinoids that control feeding and mood behaviors. As such, the trials were stopped, with the drug ending up being pulled out from the market.

Risks on the Health and Weight

The effects of using weed are usually intensified among individuals who are ‘weightier’. Among obese individuals, when they see food that attracts them, their dopamine system is activated to a huge degree compared to individuals who are non-obese. This result in more obese people having a bigger response to munchies.This must have been the reason why medical experts see how weed can help in increasing appetite, and thus affect weight.

While people say that they use weed mainly to relax, what most of them did not really know is that weed can spike their appetite for ice cream and chips, along with several other unhealthy foods that they want to avoid. These people usually associate their weight struggles because of their use of weed.

Consuming weed in food usually poses a challenge, a unique one in fact, as edibles usually compound the effects of THC on weight and appetite. For instance, sugar-filled edibles such as cookies, candies, brownies and others not just contribute to the addition of calories, which may result in weight gain, but they also result to drops and spikes in blood sugar, which in turn, increases cravings.


As with all other things, there are advantages and disadvantages to appetite stimulation. For those who are suffering from obesity, an increase in appetite stimulation may be bad news, but it can be good for those who are struggling to eat. For those who have medical conditions which dull appetite, an increase in hunger produced by weed can be therapeutic.

Whether you choose to use weed or not, the easiest way to summarize its role on appetite is that it actually helps the brain to make sure of our survival, which includes the need to it. If you feel concerned with potentially gaining weight when using weed, it is recommended to consume healthy snacks instead. These can easily satisfy your munchies without having to consume too much calories or sugar. This will also help you feel free from guilt usually associated with consuming more than preferred.

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