Why Do We Get the Munchies?

munchies after smoking marijuana weed

If you have any experience with smoking cannabis, then you are probably familiar with the phenomenon known as “the Munchies”. While there are some people who specifically consume cannabis for its appetite-enhancing effects, this is not necessarily what everyone wants. 

So, if you want to enjoy some cannabis without getting the urge to wipe out everything in your pantry, then worry no more. In this post, we are going to look at the science behind this peculiar phenomenon as well as the reason why smoking weed gives us ‘the Munchies’.

So How does ‘The Munchies’ occur? 

Well, the simple answer to this question is that “the munchies” happen when the production of Ghrelin is stimulated independently of the normal cycle of metabolic hunger. 

Ghrelin (also referred to as ‘the hunger hormone’) is a compound that is produced and released mainly by the stomach. This hormone plays a major role in the body and has a number of functions, including:

  • Increasing food intake
  • Stimulating appetite
  • Enabling balanced fat storage

Ghrelin regulation usually happens during food intake, with levels being high just before normal meal times when the stomach is empty. As the stomach continues to expand during feeding, the production and release of Ghrelin drops until it finally comes to a stop (once you are full). The inhalation of cannabis smoke is thought to trigger the release of Ghrelin, although there is still no conclusive evidence to prove that these effects are caused by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - a compound that causes most of cannabis’s effects. 

Some terpenes in cannabis smoke are thought to increase hunger more than others but different consumption styles among cannabis users are likely to produce different effects when it comes to “the munchies”. In addition to this, body chemistry varies from person to person, which makes it difficult to prove any consistent effects from one user to the next.

Nevertheless, one thing that we can tell for certain is that a particular cannabis strain can have dramatically different effects on hunger for different people. Whereas one person can smoke a strain of cannabis that makes them want to devour everything in their pantry, another person smoking the same strain might not experience this surge in appetite. Just as is the case with other aspects of cannabis use, the experience of a user will always be subjective. This also largely depends on the frequency of consumption. For instance, an individual who smokes cannabis frequently may experience ghrelin releases that are irregular throughout their day while another user might experience a disruption in their appetite and hunger cycles.

The variations in the way that different cannabis users experience “the munchies” likely has more to do with their genetic makeup than the strain they are smoking. Science is yet to provide a conclusive answer to how “the munchies” occur and why they vary so much from person to person. However, since everyone’s body chemistry is different and responds uniquely to various strains of cannabis, it can be very helpful for you to keep a strain journal to track the different strains that you consume and their effects. 

By writing down what works or doesn’t work for your body, you will be able to narrow down on the best strains for your consumption.