Why does weed make you hungry?

Getting munchies or hungry after using weed has been a well-known effect among the cannabis community for a long time without knowing why it does that to the body. Most stoners have found themselves roaming around the fridge trying to find something to eat after taking big puffs of weed. For many years this has raised a question about why weed makes you hungry. Scientists have finally solved this mystery and come up with an explanation. 

For a sneak peek, I can say that you’re not alone!

Key Takeaways

  • THC in cannabis is the main reason that induces hunger.
  • THC also makes the brain produce more dopamine making you feel enjoyable while eating and makes the food smell better by interacting with the CB1 receptors in the nose.
  • Indica strains are more likely to increase hunger than sativa because of the low levels of THCV.
  • Consuming CBD products can help you to avoid feeling hungry.
  • Using THC for munchies is beneficial for patients associated with chemotherapy and AIDS.
  • How long hunger duration can last depends on factors like metabolism, consumption methods, and genetics.

The Reason Behind the Munchies

Cannabis can make you either make food taste better or trick your brain into thinking you’re hungry even though you just ate. The reason behind all of this is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC which is an active compound contained in cannabis. It’s also the primary cannabinoid known for its ability to increase appetite by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a cell-signaling system regulating several functions in the human brain including mood, memory, and sleep. 

The THC would partially bind to and activate cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) of the endocannabinoid system that later on stimulates appetite. CB1 can be found in several areas in our body, which CB1 acts a bit differently regarding increased hunger depending on the certain area:

  • Basal ganglia – Enhancing eating pleasure.
  • Limbic forebrain – Enhancing food palatability.
  • Stomach and small intestine – Regulating ghrelin, an appetite-stimulation hormone.
  • Hypothalamus and rhombencephalon – Regulating food intake.

Why does weed make food yummy?

Eating your favorite food like junk food and doughnuts already releases dopamine, often called a “happy hormone”, making us feel happy. Consuming cannabis supports the brain in producing more dopamine, known as the dopamine rush, which makes the activity including eating more pleasurable. It is more interesting that THC can enhance the sense of smell, as confirmed by a 2014 study that found THC interacts with the CB1 receptors in the main olfactory bulb of the nose improving the sensation of smell.

Indica vs Sativa: Do these two make you hungry?

As stated above, THC is the main reason to make you hungry indicating that both indica and sativa can cause hunger because of THC presence in both. So, higher THC concentrations are more likely to increase the chances of feeling hungry.

Indica is more likely to increase hunger due to low levels of tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), another cannabinoid that produces the opposite effect from THC meaning that it doesn’t induce hunger and is sometimes referred to as “diet weed”. Alternatively, Sativa contains higher THCV content which can beat the hungry feeling while inducing energy instead.

But what if I don’t want to feel the munchies?

Wanting to use weed without feeling any hunger? Here’s what you can do.

The easiest way is to reduce the amount of THC by looking for a product labeling microdose of THC due to it being the main reason why it makes you hungry. Another way is to find products containing lower doses of THC with higher amounts of other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD). In contrast to THC, CBD has the potential to reduce appetite or appetite suppressant by mediating CB1 and CB2 receptors.

What’s the benefit of THC for munchies?

Patients with certain diseases who are on some treatments or medications may experience a loss of appetite. That’s when THC comes to the rescue. Medical cannabis has been widely used to help HIV patients as a way to stimulate their hunger. It also plays an important role in helping lessen nausea and increase appetite for those suffering these side effects from going through chemotherapy.

There is a THC synthetic prescription medication called ‘dronabinol’, also known as Marinol. This medication is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase appetite in patients with AIDS. According to one 2017 study, cannabis may have the potential to help those living with anorexia to eat more.

How long do the munchies last?

The munchie’s effect duration depends on many factors such as genetics and metabolism of individuals. The consumption method of cannabis is also a big matter that determines how long the effects would last. For example, smoking weed will make you feel the effect faster than other methods but the duration is short when it will wear off after a couple of hours. On the other hand, the munchies will take a few hours to kick in when eating weed and the effect normally lasts longer.

Tips to deal with hunger

Here’s how to deal with the sweet or savory craving effects of consuming weed without worrying about gaining weight.

  • Drink water – Drinking flavored water is suggested since it can trick your brain that you have been fed.
  • Try other strains – Switching cannabis strains to something that is known for not causing you to get hungry. 
  • Prepare healthy snacks – Such as dried fruits or fresh fruits, granola bars, vegetable sticks, and hummus. Make sure to avoid hunger-boosting snacks like apples, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and more.

Conclusion

Having to feel hungry after smoking weed can be blamed on the THC contained within the weed for being the main reason to make you hungry. THC can also make the food smell and taste better. So, if you consume strains with high THC levels, you’ll be more likely to get hungry. CBD, on the other hand, isn’t making you feel hungry which is suggested for those who want to use weed but don’t want to feel munchies. However, these munchies effects can be beneficial in the medical field, especially to those who have AIDS or going through chemotherapy.

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