How Weed Increases Appetite


Marijuana induced munchies is no new news to a cannabis user. Maybe you are trying to adhere to a diet, or intermittent fasting--but horribly fail, because you got high. But why is this? What's the science behind getting high and getting hungry? First we must understand why we get hungry on a scientific level.

Maybe you skipped breakfast, or had a long day and are eating dinner late. Either way, the simple answer is your stomach is empty, so you are hungry. What normally stimulates our appetite uses complex mechanisms within the body to regulate itself, when the body senses a decrease or excess in energy stores.

When it senses a deficit, your GI tract triggers the release of a hormone called ghrelin to your hypothalamus in the brain, indicating an increase in hunger. It should also be noted that ghrelin also affects an area of the brain known as the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA). This helps release the feel good transmitter dopamine. Reversed, when your body has an excess of energy stores, fat cells release the hormone leptin. Leptin is also sent to the hypothalamus, but to inhibit hunger. It counteracts the effects of another neurotransmitter, anandamide. Anandamide is another potent hunger stimulator that binds to the same receptor sites as THC. Specifically, cannabinoid receptor type 1 or CB1. So less leptin equals feeling more hungry when THC has bound itself to anandamide receptors.

Tetrahydrocannabinol has many effects within the body such as producing cognitive impairment, euphoria, reducing nausea, and stimulating appetite. It does so by interacting and mimicking the endocannabinoid system. When attaching itself to the CB1 receptor site, it increases the palatability of sucrose. (This is probably why sweets taste so good when you're high). It also has effects on your sense of smell. Simply put, getting high makes food smell delicious. THC also stimulates receptor sites within the endocannabinoid system, thus increasing the release of the hormone ghrelin, and in turn, making you feel hungry--even after eating 3 full course meals throughout the day.

Information courtesy of themedicinejournal.com and honestmarijuana.com.

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