The more familiar you become with cannabis, the better you can control associated urges such as the munchies. But any stoner will know that giving in to the munchies always means you’ll have a delicious meal – whether it be takeout, a 5 star meal or a simple toasted cheese. So why does food taste so good when you have the munchies?
The munchies may irritate some who are watching their weight. However, we are discovering the potential of cannabis as a metabolism booster, helping you burn more calories. The munchies are also a welcomed phenomenon by those with certain conditions such as cancer (chemotherapy) or HIV where patients have a suppressed appetite.
The mechanisms behind the munchies are still largely unknown, but recent studies are providing some valuable insights. A study conducted on mice in 2014 discovered that THC activates a receptor in their brains which supplemented their sense of smell, guiding them to eating more than they usually would. These mice were exposed to banana and almond oils, who took their time to sniff and explore until they got used to the smells. Curiously, mice exposed to THC took longer to habituate to the smells.
This may also occur in humans whose sense of taste and smell are closely linked. It might make sense that we enjoy eating when stoned because we smell and taste better as our senses are heightened. This can turn an ordinary meal into something glorious.
Further studies have shown different connections between THC and hunger. Some studies note that cannabis has an effect on receptors in the brain which stimulates dopamine (the pleasure hormone) when people eat while high. Data also suggests that THC can stimulate receptors located in the hypothalamus – causing the production of the ghrelin hormone, which is responsible for regulating hunger.
From what we see above, we see that THC has a complex effect on the human body. It might be caused by a heightened sense of smell and taste, or it could be the production of hormones such as dopamine and ghrelin boosting our hunger. Either way, we love to eat while high and this isn’t likely to change any time soon.