If you’ve ever had the munchies before, it’s usually a very distinct feeling. After a relatively chill smoke sesh with some friends, hunger suddenly hits the group like a meteor — quickly, intensely, and out of nowhere. The sense of urgency to eat is synchronized among everyone, almost like a mental wavelength. Even if you just ate, food is the only cure to whatever you’re feeling. Though it may seem so, the munchies are not just a thief in the night who comes to grab you. The munchies are one of the most common side effects of consuming marijuana. Getting high heightens all of your senses, including smell and taste, but there’s a little bit more going on behind the scenes than just an amplified nose.
What triggers the munchies?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid found in cannabis that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of a weed-induced high. The body’s endocannabinoid system naturally helps control functions such as pain response, emotions, and appetite. The brain produces its own cannabinoids that fit into special receptors associated with each of these processes. THC has the ability to fit into these receptors as well, giving it the power to manipulate each of these functions significantly. When THC fits into receptors linked to appetite, hunger is artificially induced and makes the body feel as if it has been deprived of food. THC has also been found to facilitate the release of ghrelin, a hormone that signals hunger. In a nutshell: whether you are hungry or not, THC sneaks in and flips the hunger lever like a little goblin puppeting the olfactory region of your brain. Once that switch is flipped, you’re on the hunt for anything edible, preferably sweet or salty, and loaded with carbs… Taco Bell, for instance.
Can the munchies be beneficial?
Of course, the munchies are not ideal for anyone trying to lose weight, but they have been found to be beneficial for anyone with an appetite issue — for example, cancer patients or people with eating disorders. A large population of people with these conditions reported that using cannabis provided welcome pain relief and appetite stimulation. And the key to it all: THC tricking the brain into needing food.
Does CBD give you the munchies?
Interestingly, cannabidiol (CBD), another naturally occurring cannabinoid in marijuana, does not trigger the munchies like THC. It has been suggested that CBD helps reduce the side effects of THC related to appetite activation, among other side effects as well.
The next time you light up a joint and are hit by the hunger meteor, you’ll know exactly what’s going on in your brain. THC is prancing through your endocannabinoid system, throwing its own little party as it mimics your natural cannabinoids to trigger a drastic reaction.