Food

420 Day: Why do we get the munchies when we smoke weed?

Why do you get the munchies? (Picture: Dave Anderson for Metro.co.uk)

This 420 Day, also known as 4/20, lets talk about one of the common side-effects of hitting a blunt.

If youve ever visited a McDonalds drive-thru after smoking weed, youll know that the munchies are a very real thing.

But why exactly do the munchies happen?

Well, a study in Nature Neuroscience explains a few things, which help us understand how marijuanas acitive ingredient THC makes us extra hungry.

A team of European neuroscientists led by Giovanni Marsicano of the University of Bordeaux used mice to find out why we feel so peckish after a joint.

To do this, they exposed mice to banana and almond oils as a test of sensitivity to scent.

The mice sniffed the oils deeply at first, and then stopped showing interest in them.

However when they were dosed with THC, they kept on sniffing, and ate much more when they were given the chance.

Binge Eating1-food-mmuffin.png
(Picture: Mmuffin)

According to the scientists, THC fits into receptors in the brains olfactory bulb, significantly increasing the animals ability to smell food and leading them to eat more of it.

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It seems that a part of the reason why you eat more when youre high is because you can smell and taste more acutely.

THC fits into receptors that are part of the brains natural endocannabinoid system, which helps to control emotions, memory, pain sensitivity and appetite.

More: Weed

Our brains do produce their own chemicals that fit into these same receptors – but THC can alter them in big ways.

In theory, the study found that the reason our appetites are so big when were high is simply because the THC increases our sensitivity to the smells of food, and because smell and taste are closely related, it allows us to taste better, too – which could also explain why we fancy certain foods more when were high, because certain smells and tastes are stronger than others.

So basically, we get the munchies because we are super aware of the smells around us, and the THC offers stronger tastes, too.

A previous study suggests that smoking marijuana can make us crave food even when weve just eaten, by chucking in endorphins when our body is telling us were full.

That leads to more frequent, small meals rather than a big dinner – hence all your grazing on tortilla chips and salsa.

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