People get the munchies after using cannabis. Over the years, they have put a lot of money into Frito-Lay®, makers of Cheetos®, Fritos®, Doritos®, and other snacks. Burger King®, White Castle®, and Dairy Queen® see many a late-night mellow customer. It makes you wonder why cannabis makes you hungry.
As always, no two people respond to cannabis use the same way. The strain chosen and the method of consumption both affect the appetite. Having said that, several factors trigger the “munchies.”
Gherlin is one of scores of human hormones. The National Institutes of Health call it “the gut hormone.” It activates the secretagogue receptor (GHS-R) to influence food consumption, fat deposition, and growth hormone deployment. THC affects the performance of gherlin.
Olfactory bulb is a center in the brain where receptors transmit and interpret smells and tastes. According to Nature Neurocience Journal, when THC activates these receptors, foods seem more attractive than usual.
Hypothalamus is a control center for the brain’s management of hormones. Many human functions are centered there. THC fools the hypothalamus into believing you are hungry when you are not or hungrier than you really are.
Nucleus accumbens is a region of the brain that regulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases the pleasure sensation. When cannabis agitates the brain, the dopamine flow increases, so you perceive more satisfaction from the eating.
There’s more to it than that!
The presence of CBD will balance or offset the THC influence. Depending on the ratio of THC to CBD, you should feel hungrier after consuming THC-dominant strains. The CBD-dominant strains will calm and soothe brain and body activities, but just enough THC content will spark the munchies. Understanding the role of CBD helps you manage your hunger.
Inhaling cannabis will rush cannabinoids to the brain. Smokers should feel effects within 10 to 15 minutes. That rush also launches the hunger, so you may find yourself munching while smoking. Cannabis consumed as edibles takes much longer to trigger effects which raises two concerns. First, you must be careful not to pop one edible after the other. Second, the edible food in the digestive system will slow the arrival of the hunger.
What it means to you!
The munchies will not put pounds on you. Research studies published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and Psychopharmacology report cannabis users show no pattern of weight gain. In fact, research among steady users finds a slight weight loss over time.
However, they are not sure why. The cannabis may modify cells. Cannabis consumers may be more conscious of their calorie intake. It may be that cannabis use discourages better nutritional choices. Again, these factors will vary among users, and none of them has proven research reliability.
Here lies the problem. The urge to eat may not be sensible or reasonable at the time the munchy pangs hit. Because the chemistry will perk up the rewarding side of eating, you are likely to opt for the sugar-loaded, corn-syrup infused, high sodium, and high calorie choices at everywhere from Pizza Hut® to Dunkin Donuts®.
With the cannabis releasing dopamine, the brain and body are happy with the intake. With cannabis reducing the reuptake of anandamide, the “bliss” molecule comforts the brain and settles the body. It may explain why we opt for what you might call “comfort” foods.
This mechanism of action provides a medical benefit in increasing the appetite among those suffering from poor appetite or the depressed appetite attached to chemotherapy and some other medications. Other medical benefits of cannabis use reduce the negative effects of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Chron’s disease, and other digestive or sialic syndromes. The effects allow the digestive system to process foods more easily and positively.
While the science says these foods will not add weight even among chronic users, it would be better to eat fruits, vegetables, cheese, and nuts. Most advisers suggest having a tray of such foods available before lighting up. If healthy stuff sits in front of you, you should cut down on non-healthy snacks. This works nicely when you host a smoking circle.
You should also remember that water is “nutritious.” Repeated hydration while using cannabis will reduce the dry cough and throat side effects, and it will flush the system. Moreover, drinking water will also fill your belly and reduce the cravings.
So, what’s a “stoner” to do?
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are lipids that move from consumption to centers that activate hormones and neurotransmitters. The CBD relaxes brain and body, benefits for those suffering from scores of medical conditions. In some extreme cases, it will reduce nausea and vomiting and increase appetite. The CBD comfort zone prompts consumption of foods often dismissed as “munchies.”
THC, on the other hand, excites the brain, “fooling” it into dispensing and dispersing hormones that enhance the sense of smell and taste. This makes foods appetizing, and it can prompt poor eating decisions. Research suggests that these choices will not put pounds on you. On the other hand, the consumption of salts, fats, and sugars can harm in other ways.
Our experience sees benefit in planning your food intake before, during, and after cannabis consumption. If you are smoking or inhaling cannabis, you should have water and healthy foods at hand. If take cannabis in edibles, you should still hydrate and prudently pace your consumption.
As a practical caution, you can only eat so many Cheetos® and Doritos®. You have to work some variety into that diet.