APR 22, 2022 8:00 AM PDT

Cannabis and Cravings: Why you have the munchies when you're high

WRITTEN BY: Helaine Krysik

Smoking weed sometimes leads to eating crazy combinations of foods, or even everything in sight. But why is that? There’s a science behind it that explains why we tend to get the munchies when we're high.

In a famous 1971 study called On Being Stoned, weed users were observed to experience enhanced taste sensations when high, especially the craving for sweets. Researchers subsequently found that the THC in cannabis (the cannabinoid responsible for getting you high) interacts with your olfactory nerve (your smell receptors). This kicks your sense of hunger into overdrive, according to a study performed in mice. Further research showed that the THC interacted with the CB1 receptor, which is responsible for controlling the appetite.

And that’s not all. We have neurons in our body that turn off when we’re full, indicating when we’ve had enough to eat to satisfy our hunger. Research has shown that when some users ingest THC, these neurons don’t turn off. In fact, in some users, THC causes these neurons to go into overdrive instead. As a result, these users experience considerable munchies.

Furthermore, THC has long been associated with the release of dopamine. As dopamine controls our pleasure centers, this association increases pleasure eating, in turn making food more fun, and overall lowering the inhibitions in the user, increasing the munchies.

So, if you as a weed enthusiast experience these reactions after ingesting THC, it’s best to find ways of distracting yourself so that you don’t go overboard with food. Whether it’s finding creative activities, watching movies, or simply surrounding yourself with healthy, lean food choices, it’s a good idea to get a handle on your cravings so that you don’t develop unhealthy habits that get harder to break the longer you indulge in them.



Sources: The Psychedelic Library, Nature, Nature, NIH

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Helaine is a cannabis industry writer and marketing consultant. She has been active in the Illinois cannabis industry since 2020, and writes for a variety of national publications.
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