The munchies are a part of the classic, hippy, stoner scene. Memes, jokes and lots of fast food wrappers can verify its place in the culture. Jack in the Box has played to it with commercials, a stoner guy, a Box 420 special, and this year a “Pineapple Express” food truck. But not all cannabis is alike and not all will make you hungry. So why does some marijuana give you the munchies?
The munchies are defined as intense hunger, particularly for sweet and savory treats, after you use cannabis. Some think of the munchies as an adverse side effect, but other people use cannabis, especially medical marijuana, with a goal of stimulating their appetite.
You can have different results regarding cannabis with relieving stress or whether it improve sleep, but cannabis reliably stimulates appetite in animals with an endocannabinoid system. Cannabis has been used as an appetite stimulant for thousands of years. The earliest record of using cannabis to treat appetite loss comes from 300 A.D. in India and this tradition continues in modern folk medicine traditions throughout Asia. For example, in Thailand cannabis is frequently used to stimulate the appetite of sick people and make them sleep.
Not all marijuana increases the appetite. Cannabinoids activate the receptors that affect your appetite levels. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary cannabinoid that’s known to increase appetite. Some strains reduced hunger. The best weed strains for appetite suppression are those with low-to-moderate THC levels and high CBD and THCV levels,
But THC is only 1 of more than 100 active chemicals found in cannabis. Animal studies show that another cannabinoid, called cannabigerol (CBG), may also stimulate appetite. This cannabinoid doesn’t have the same intoxicating effect as THC. So it’s of interest to researchers looking for a way to stimulate appetite without the high associated with THC.
In a study, worms exposed to a cannabinoid become even more interested in the kind of food that they’d already prefer, new University of Oregon research shows. The effect is similar to craving potato chips and ice cream after a few puffs of marijuana, a phenomenon known scientifically as “hedonic feeding” but colloquially called “the munchies.”
The study, led by neuroscientist Shawn Lockery in the College of Arts and Sciences, points to worms as a useful tool for understanding more about the many roles that cannabinoids naturally play in the body. And it could help researchers develop better drugs that target that system. He and his team published their findings April 20 in Current Biology.
Epidemiological studies in humans indicate a relationship between long term chronic cannabis use and “decreased prevalence of obesity and diabetes.” More research is needed to understand why cannabis products opposite effects. At present, there is no evidence that weed will help you lose weight. However, because of the complex role cannabis plays with metabolism and weight maintenance, researchers are exploring option with new obesity drugs.
How you consume can also play a role. A clinical study showed inhaled cannabis can increase levels of hormones which make you hungry.
Generally, the higher the THC, the more of chance of munchies. You can manage your intake by having better food options available when you decide to consume.