According to science, cannabis makes you hungry for unhealthy foods
Snack food sales have increased significantly in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington after the legalisation of recreational cannabis. Colorado and Washington legalized recreational cannabis in 2012, while in Oregon, it became legal in 2015.
According to a study fro the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University, the following market trends followed cannabis legalisation:
- Chips sales have increased by 5.3 percent;
- Ice cream purchases increased 3.1 percent; and
- cookie sales climbed by 4.1 percent.
These numbers may appear small but they’re statistically and economically significant.
The study also reported that scientists have neuroscience theories behind cannabis-induced cravings. However, the inner workings of this phenomenon are still unknown.
How does marijuana cause munchies?
We’ve all heard it before: A common result of cannabis useis the “munchies”, In fact, everyone from scientists to cannabis users believes that marijuana gives munchies, a strong craving for salty, sweet or fatty carbohydrate-rich foods.
There have been ample accounts confirming this experience. However, the federal prohibition on marijuana has made it difficult for scientists to research the cause behind this hunger phenomenon. But as more states have relaxed their marijuana laws, researchers have finally gotten closer to understanding the marijuana-hunger connection.
It is well-documented that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in the marijuana plant, stimulates appetite. In a study focusing on marijuana and appetite, scientists used the smelling sense to understand the role of the drug in inducing hunger. Researchers gave some mice THC, and as a result, mice continued to sniff at oils, showing increased sensitivity to the scents. They also got hungrier and ate more than the mice not dosed with THC.
A 2014 study published in Nature Neuroscience describes the phenomenon, citing that mice that ingested THC experienced stronger ability to smell food, causing them to eat more. Since mice are an accurate model for human reaction to certain stimuli, the common conclusion is that marijuana makes us hungrier because of the close relationship between taste and smell.
Further, a 2015 Yale study on lab mice reported that cannabis affects the brain’s ability to curb appetite. The researcher, Tamar Horvath, explained that the neurons they believed were responsible for reducing eating were suddenly activated, and increased hunger, following the use of cannabis.
Is marijuana munchies a good or bad thing?
For those who are struggling with obesity or are overweight, having the munchies is certainly not a good thing. Binge eating junk food is a bad idea. However, the increase in appetite induced by cannabis has been welcomed in the medical field, particularly in the treatment of diseases which cause appetite loss.
For instance, cancer patients often face significant appetite loss. They need calories that would be best delivered through food. Ingesting cannabis increases their appetite and provides added benefits, such as reduction in nausea.
How to control cannabis munchies?
There are many ways to control cannabis munchies. Here are some suggestions.
- Physical activities such as exercising after cannabis use may distract the brain from the possible munchies.
- Eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables may keep you from eating unhealthy carbohydrate-rich food.
- Eating a substantial dinner that includes lean proteins, whole grain cereals, and fresh vegetables can help you avoid late night munchies. These foods release their energy more slowly than unhealthy carbohydrates and keep you satisfied for longer.
- Drink something first and wait for a while, when you feel strong munchies. This will help control your craving for unhealthy snacks. Drinking enough water while high fights other common cannabis side effects, such as cottonmouth, dizziness, and dry eyes.
Not all cannabis strains cause munchies
Certain marijuana strains cause more severe munchies than others. Often, indica strains cause munchies more often and more severe than sativa strains. However, it is the strain’s THC content that defines the severity of munchies.
Stains that contain high THC content are more like to cause hunger than those with high cannabidiol (CBD) contents. CBD is marijuana’s primary non-psychoactive compound with proven medicinal benefits. It doesn’t cause munchies like THC, and it’s used across many medical applications. Some popular high-CBD strains are Harlequin and Cannatonic.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is another cannabinoid which doesn’t give munchies. THCV strains may help to suppress appetite. Strains like Jack the Ripper and Durban make the best choice for beginners.
Current research shows that marijuana causes munchies. However, there are many ways to avoid being obese while consuming cannabis. To avoid munchies, cannabis users can eat healthy foods, exercise, get a good night’s sleep, stay hydrated, and do everything to distract your brain from unhealthy food. Where this phenomenon might be a problem for some, others that suffer from conditions that cause a lack of appetite can benefit from the drug’s munchies effect.