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The Science of Why Cannabis Makes you Hungry

If you've ever experienced the "munchies" after using a cannabis product, you're not alone. It is very common for cannabis users to report an increased appetite after consuming, and this effect has been the subject of scientific study. In this post, we'll explore the facts behind why cannabis makes you hungry.


An astronaut holding french bread pizza


Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System


To understand why cannabis can make you hungry, it's important to first understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex system of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids that are found throughout the body, including in the brain, digestive system, and immune system. The ECS is involved in a variety of processes, including appetite regulation, pain perception, and mood.


When cannabis is consumed, it interacts with the ECS by binding to the body's cannabinoid receptors. The two main cannabinoids found in cannabis - THC and CBD - both interact with the ECS, but THC is primarily responsible for the appetite-stimulating effects of the plant.

The Role of THC in Appetite


THC has been shown to activate a specific type of receptor in the brain called the CB1 receptor. When these receptors are activated, they can stimulate the release of a hormone called ghrelin, which is known as the "hunger hormone". Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and signals to the brain that it's time to eat.


In addition to stimulating the release of ghrelin, THC has also been shown to enhance the sense of taste and smell. This can make food seem more appealing and can lead to an increase in appetite.


The Role of Terpenes in Appetite


While THC is primarily responsible for the appetite-stimulating effects of cannabis, other compounds found in the plant - including terpenes - may also play a role. For example, the terpene myrcene has been shown to have appetite-stimulating effects, while limonene has been shown to have appetite-suppressing effects.


Additionally, the terpene beta-caryophyllene has been shown to activate the CB2 receptor, which is found primarily in the digestive system. Activating this receptor has been shown to decrease inflammation in the gut and may help to improve appetite.


Conclusion


In conclusion, the appetite-stimulating effects of cannabis are primarily due to the interaction between THC and the CB1 receptor in the brain. However, other compounds found in the plant - including terpenes - may also play a role. While the munchies may be a well-known side effect of cannabis use, it's important to use the plant responsibly and in accordance with local laws. Additionally, those with a history of disordered eating or who are trying to manage their weight should be cautious when using cannabis, as the increased appetite can lead to overeating.

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