One of the oldest myths in the world is that cannabis gives you the munchies. It’s been in stoner movies and folklore for as long as we can remember. One of the most notorious examples is the tale of Harold and Kumar, and their brave quest to seek out a White Castle.
Is there science that explains why this happens? Are the munchies real, or is it something that has been programmed into us and now we just trick ourselves into eating after consuming cannabis?
We’ll dive into all of this and more throughout the rest of this article.
What are the munchies?
The “munchies” is a term used to describe the insatiable hunger people feel after consuming cannabis.
This phenomenon is responsible for one of the most common stereotypes around cannabis culture: that those who smoke weed are out of shape and sit on the couch eating chips and cookies all day.
If you’ve consumed cannabis yourself, you may have some first-hand experience with this. Is there any research that can explain why it happens, though? Or is it just tradition?
Why cannabis causes the munchies
One of the main active compounds in cannabis is THC. This is the intoxicating cannabinoid that gets you “high”, and is what makes marijuana, well, marijuana.
It affects us physiologically in a number of ways. It interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), and one of the interactions it has is with our appetite.
How cannabis alters our perception of food
Specifically, THC interacts with our brain’s “olfactory bulb”. The olfactory bulb is partially responsible for how we smell and taste food.
So, while we may not actually be hungry, cannabis has the ability to enhance the aspects of food we enjoy – smell and taste. This leads to eating, and sometimes overeating.
Unfortunately, this increases the appeal of junk food. As you probably are aware, not many people go crazy for a salad or a banana when they have the munchies. Often times, we seek out sugary, fatty foods that really lend no nutritional value other than calories.
Can cannabis actually stimulate appetite?
Now we know that cannabis (specifically THC) can cause us to eat when we aren’t actually hungry. But, what about those of us who struggle with eating disorders, and have no appetite? Can cannabis actually stimulate our appetite, making us hungry?
There is a hormone called ghrelin, and it is stimulated by THC. Studies have shown that stimulation of ghrelin can increase appetite.
This is well known in the medical community and is one of the many reasons cannabis can be used as medicine. There are quite a few instances where this implication can be used to treat a variety of ailments.
The obvious medical condition cannabis can help with is eating disorders. If you don’t want to eat, or don’t have the appetite to eat, you can try a higher THC strain. Whether it’s the stimulation of ghrelin or the olfactory bulb, odds are you will feel an increase in your appetite.
Another one that comes to mind is for helping with symptoms of cancer, or other diseases that affect your ability to eat. Chemo treatments will all but eliminate your desire to eat, and many patients are able to eat only through the help of cannabis.
It’s important to note that cannabis doesn’t cure any sort of appetite-related issues. Rather, the effects last the duration of your high. Once the THC wears off, your appetite and perception of food more or less returns to normal.
So, are the munchies actually a good thing?
It’s time to shift our thinking in the cannabis community around munchies. Sure, sometimes people will crush an entire bag of Baked Lay’s chips (my personal go-to) after smoking. If you are an otherwise healthy human being who binge eats after consuming cannabis, you may want to consider dialing it back. This can turn into an eating disorder on its own.
But, for others, the munchie effect is what keeps them a healthy weight. Without the appetite stimulation, many people would be unable to eat. The munchies are really just another example of cannabis as medicine.
If you are looking for top-shelf cannabis without the top-shelf prices, find Elyon Cannabis at a retailer near you.
We cultivate a wide range of strains in a variety of products – including flower, concentrate, vapes, and more. We recognize cannabis as medicine and seek to create products that help people feel better in their everyday life.
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