Have you ever smoked a joint and then experienced a serious case of the munchies? Specifically, you may have experienced cravings for salty or sugary junk food. Here, we’ll cover how your body knows when to eat, why weed can make you feel hungry, and how cannabis may help both patients looking to gain weight and non-patients looking to maintain their weight.
It’s quite typical for people to start munching down on all kinds of junk food once they’ve smoked marijuana or eaten an edible. You’re not the only one who feels that way. The term “munchies” originated from Charles T. Tart’s famous 1971 study “On Being Stoned,” in which 150 marijuana users were observed and their sugar cravings were recorded by researchers. Looking to try something new? Check out this.
Why Do We Get Hungry?
Before we look at why marijuana makes you hungry, let’s take a look at how the body reacts to hunger. Being hungry is a two-part process, depending on whether or not the body detects an energy surplus or a shortage. When the body has a lack of energy, ghrelin is released by the gut, which prompts the hypothalamus in the brain to increase appetite in the body. When your body has too much energy, fat cell cells discharge the leptin hormone, which stimulates the hypothalamus and inhibits hunger. The less leptin our bodies produce, the hungrier we become.
How Weed Amplifies Hunger
So, how does cannabis communicate to the brain that it’s time for a bag of potato chips? According to Dr. Melanie Bone, a board-certified OB-GYN and cannabis expert, “The method by which cannabis promotes hunger appears to be via the generation of ghrelin. This hormone works in tandem with the appetite centers in the brain to encourage hunger. Furthermore, cannabinoids may alter taste and smell perception. The combination is useful for individuals who have difficulty getting interested in food at all.”
Many individuals wanting to gain weight have turned to marijuana for assistance, thanks to its reputation as a hunger stimulant. While it’s not only weed’s appetite-boosting qualities that can assist patients in gaining weight. “Patients who are losing weight and don’t feel hungry are frequently ridiculed, urged, bribed, and coerced by their friends and family to eat more,” Dr. Bone explains. CBD and CBG may be used to treatment the psychosocial issues surrounding food intake by minimizing anxiety.”
An incentive for one person may be a deterrent for another. Patients who start a medical marijuana treatment for reasons other than to increase appetites might be concerned about gaining weight. “Many of the patients coming in for a medical marijuana consultation want me to help them avoid getting fat,” said Dr. Bone. “They tell me stories from their college years when they were high and got the munchies. It is true that cannabis can encourage hunger, but long-term users tend to have healthy body weights. Why is this?”
Dr. Bone took us back to 1985, when a drug called Dronabinol was authorized for usage in HIV/AIDS patients to reduce weight and wasting. Dronabinol is now used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting as well as cachexia, or weight loss caused by cancer.
According to a 2018 research published in the journal Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, dronabinol may assist with anorexia and weight loss in people with AIDS or cancer. The researchers of the study stated that, “The usage of oral dronabinol solution as a supplementary therapy option for individuals suffering from anorexia and/or weight loss due to HIV/AIDS or cancer is justified.”
Many long-term cannabis users may simply be average or underweight to begin with, according to some researchers. But what about those who are not trying to lose weight? There’s evidence that long-term cannabis users may have a better grasp of their weight than non-users.
What Should I Eat When I Get The Munchies?
When you’re hungry, experts claim that marijuana makes food more pleasurable to eat. Our brains are attracted to high-calorie lipids, salts, and sugars. And we release dopamine in response to those meals more than any other thing. This is why, when the munchies hit, you’re always reaching for a fistful of chips or a slice of pizza.
Fruits, vegetables, and grains are typically advised. However, if you want to satiate your cannabis-induced cravings, consider selecting healthier choices that still include sugars or salts like granola cereals or baked chips instead of fried food. It may appear difficult to stop wherever your stomach takes you when you’re high, but Wenk advises preparing ahead of time and setting out your snack options so you don’t pick the worst possible meals.
How Much Will I Want To Eat?
The amount of marijuana you consumed and how you took it will determine how hungry you feel. When you smoke a joint, the THC level in your blood is considerably higher, resulting in more munchies than if you ate an edible. Because edibles have to be digested, whatever food is already in your stomach delays the absorption of THC until it reaches the brain. Inhalation may take up to 5-10 minutes to work its way through your system while ingestion may take up to 2 hours.
However, if you’re trying to curb your cravings, there is a solution— limit the amount of THC you consume. Many goods are lab-tested and labeled with the quantity of CBD and THC they contain at authorized dispensaries throughout the state. “You have to find out what amount of THC is right for you,” said Patel. “You want to hit a sweet spot in terms of the amount where it provides you the desired effect without giving you too much energy or hunger.”