Have you ever wondered what it is that makes you so hungry after medicating with cannabis? If you find yourself craving sweets and fast food after smoking a joint, don't worry, you are not alone. This "phenomenon" is called "having the munchies." It's completely normal and happens to many people, but not many know the science behind it.
So, why how does cannabis cause the munchies? What is it in cannabis products that make us feel hungry and gets our appetite through the roof?
If you want to understand this, we need to get to the bottom of it, and it means understanding the scientific side of it! The hunger hormone, named Ghrelin, which is found in the stomach, is what causes the feeling of hunger! Small amounts of it get released in the small intestine, brain, and pancreas, making us feel hungry. But once we have a good meal, our digestive system will release another hormone called leptin, which lets us know we are full, and this process happens several times a day.
The second stage of understanding "the curious case of munchies" is learning that the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant interact with the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system produces its cannabinoids, and one of them controls appetite. When the hypothalamus receives the hormone Ghrelin, it releases the endocannabinoids. They activate the brain's responding receptors, which then send messages to different parts of the body. So, when smoking cannabis, the cannabinoid THC gets into our system and activates receptors in the brain, just like our cannabinoids, except that what we feel is a bit more enhanced. These cannabinoids also activate the sense of smell, which makes you more sensitive to aroma and flavor. In return, anything you eat will taste better. Cannabinoids in cannabis also increase sugar cravings and knowing that sugar is a carbohydrate explains why marijuana makes you want to eat junk food more.
Keep in mind that THC is the real reason for having the munchies. Knowing this, we understand that it doesn't matter whether we smoke or eat cannabis products. So, just like you may have guessed it: edibles do cause munchies!
If you eat too many cannabis-infused edibles, however, keep in mind that you can't overdose from it, but you will still get very high, as the sensation that edibles give is much stronger than regular smoking. Nausea, dizziness, panic, anxiety are the most common side-effects. These pass with time, but the key is to control the amount you eat and keep in mind that you need more time to start feeling the effects, which are much more long-lasting!
There's an excellent and medical side to the munchies, surprisingly enough! People who suffer from anorexia, bulimia, and even people suffering from HIV and cancer patients going through chemotherapy who don't have the appetite, may find that cannabis caused munchies are beneficial for them. And not just that, people struggling with colitis or irritable bowel syndrome also benefit from cannabis as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
All in all, now we know that if done in moderation and carefully, cannabis is an amazing plant with so many health benefits!