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Why does Cannabis make you hungrier?

Movies have been made around the fact that ingesting or smoking Cannabis ultimately makes you hungrier than usual, a phenomenon commonly known as ‘having the munchies’. What most people can’t explain is why.

Scientifically speaking, Cannabis contains a chemical compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that induces the high when a person ingests Cannabis. THC stimulates what is known as the endocannabinoid system that is located in the brain and deals with appetite. THC bonds with receptors in your body specifically in the olfactory bulb that deals with smell and taste making food smell and taste better. In addition, it invigorates a hormone called ghrelin that literally causes hunger.

The ghrelin hormone is a stomach secretion that sends signals to your hypothalamus in the brain signaling hunger and therefore works up an appetite. To add to the appeal, it also aids the secretion of the feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine which makes food seem more inviting. It has been proven that the scale of hunger is directly proportional to how much Cannabis you smoked or ingested.

Furthermore, the method of consumption also affects just how hungry you will feel thereafter.

Smoking releases more THC into the bloodstream than consuming edibles due to the latter having to be digested, gradually slowing down the absorption of the THC compound into the bloodstream. Moreover, one can feel the effects of smoking marijuana after as few as ten minutes versus two hours for edibles ingestion. It has also been proven that the hunger that comes with cannabis ingestion or inhalation makes fats and sugars more appealing to the brain. And now you understand why you prefer the bag of chips over the apples on your counter when you’re high.

THC signals to the hypothalamus via neurons to not produce the chemicals that signal that we are full and instead to indicate the opposite. Now you know why you get hungrier after smoking marijuana and how to reduce or increase the feeling as desired.


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