Food & Drink

So THAT'S Why Marijuana Gives You The Munchies

Your restraint doesn't stand a chance against the combination of pot and science.
04/20/2018 05:46am ET | Updated April 20, 2018
eskymaks via Getty Images
Here's why marijuana leads to the munchies.

There’s a reason Ben & Jerry’s sells a “Euphori-Lock” that protects you from opening your pint of ice cream without entering a combination.

Weed inspires a voracious hunger that’s nearly impossible to suppress. It’s because marijuana plays a number of games on your brain and your gut, all adding up to the perfect storm of unstoppable munchies. It’s about time we understood them.

Weed triggers your brain to think you’re hungry

It’s been well-documented that the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, stimulates appetite.

But a 2014 study published in Nature Neuroscience further explains the phenomenon, citing that mice exposed to THC had a significantly stronger ability to smell their food, leading them to eat more of it.

As Smithsonian.com explains, if mice are an accurate model for people, this means marijuana makes us more sensitive to the smells of food, which in turn makes us hungry because of the close relationship between taste and scent.

Double whammy: Weed also messes with neurons that usually suppress your hunger

According to a 2015 Yale study conducted by lead researcher Tamas Horvath, studies done on lab mice showed that marijuana affects the brain’s ability to curb your appetite.

“[Marijuana] fools the brain’s central feeding system,” Horvath said in a report that accompanied the study. “We were surprised to find that the neurons we thought were responsible for shutting down eating were suddenly being activated and promoting hunger, even when you are full.”

Marijuana also turns you into a fat-loving monster

Why don’t we hear stories about our friends getting high and raiding their fridges for giant bowls of salad?

Well, a 2011 study out of the University of California, Irvine, determined that marijuana’s effect on the gut mirrors that of eating fatty foods. It all boils down to the “betcha can’t eat just one!” or “once you pop you can’t stop!” theory.

As Time explains, “the taste of fatty food hitting the tongue sets off a cascade of cellular effects” that result in increasing your appetite for even more fatty foods. The intestinal receptors that kick-start this whole process are known as CB1 receptors, and they’re the “same type of receptors that interact in the brain with THC,” Time reports.

What to do if you can’t stop the cravings

Leafly suggests that the strain of cannabis you consume can affect the strength of your munchies. Strains high in cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) are supposedly better for anyone looking to minimize their waistline, and Leafly has a list of 10 strains that won’t make you (as) hungry.

But if there’s absolutely no stopping your hunger, prepare in advance and make sure you have something worth the extra calories on hand, like these options:

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