What are munchies?

What are munchies?

Durch: Laura Rueda Kultur

Pizzas, pastries, jelly beans, corn snacks … Stay away from the fridge! After using cannabis, some people experience an increase in appetite. And they hardly ever have a craving for something healthy, but for foods that fall into the ‘junk food’ category. A terrible emptiness invades our body, and there is nothing in the cupboard we could resist to. This sensation is known by the name ‘munchies’, but what are munchies?

Some cannabinoids seem to trick our brain into feeling hungry. According to studies using mice and rats, cannabinoids interfere with our feeling of satiety and, therefore, you may feel you’re starving after smoking. The stimulation of our appetite depends on neurons called proopiomelanocortins (POMC) and this study, published in Nature Research journal, claims that these neurons, which usually send out a chemical signal to tell your brain that you’re full, manage to trick the brain with hunger signals instead when in contact with THC.

Cannabinoids are receptors, and when POMC neurons are activated, they release anorectic signals (appetite suppressants), on the one hand, and orexigenic peptides (stimulators) on the other. Scientists from Australia, Germany and the United States have participated in this recently published innovative study. POMC neurons release a feel-good enzyme called beta-endorphin, which induces hunger.

Prior to the completion of this research, scientists explained the phenomenon known as munchies differently, since they related this sensation to the activation of the type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1R), a set of proteins that, when in contact with cannabinoid substances, increases the appetite. In other words, when you use marijuana, this type-1 cannabinoid receptor, known as CB1, gets activated. Once active, it sends inputs to the POMC neurons, which tells our brain when we are satiated and when we are not.

Where does the word munchies come from?

Everything seems to indicate it refers to the noise we make when chewing, in English „munch“, chew or gnaw. What can we do to stop eating and devouring everything that falls into our hands after consuming cannabis? Find an activity to distract your mind and satisfy your natural levels of dopamine. Outdoor activities are perfect. Despite your strong desire for junk food, be sensible, refrain yourself and try to find some healthy snack options, like fruit or nuts.

On another note, this side effect can be the hope for patients who experience nausea or appetite loss. Thanks to cannabis, many cancer patients overcome poor appetite, even though chemotherapy can cause its loss. Munchies can also help patients with eating disorders. Another study published in Nature Neuroscience argues that the marijuana plant could have evolved to produce THC as a way to get protected against herbivores, since its consumption would cause dizziness and disorientation in these animals.

Some more scientific evidence can explain the munchies phenomenon. A study also published in Nature claims that THC, the psychoactive component of the plant, has an effect on some brain receptors associated to the sense of smell. The data showed that all of the mice tested were more sensitive to the smell of food and experienced an increased appetite. This occurs because THC activates cannabinoid receptor located in the brain region known as the olfactory bulb.

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Kannabia accept no responsibility for any illegal use made by third parties of information published. The cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption is an activity subject to legal restrictions that vary from state to state. We recommend consultation of the legislation in force in your country of residence to avoid participation in any illegal activity.

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