Munchies are one of the most well-known side effects of marijuana use. The experience of increased hunger after smoking weed is so common that it has even become a stereotype. But why does marijuana make you hungry?
Before we go there, we must separate being hungry naturally and being hungry as a side effect of marijuana use.
Why do we Feel Hungry Naturally?
Our bodies constantly burn energy and send us hunger signals when we need to refuel. These signals originate in the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain responsible for regulating hunger, thirst, and other essential functions.
There are two main types of hunger: homeostatic and hedonic. Homeostatic hunger is the type of hunger we feel when our bodies need the energy to function properly. This kind of hunger lets us know when it's time to eat lunch or dinner. On the other hand, Hedonic hunger is driven by pleasure rather than need. This type of hunger is often triggered by the sight or smell of food, even when we're not physically hungry.
So, naturally, we feel hungry when our bodies need energy. But what about when weed makes us hungry?
The Endocannabinoid System and Hunger
Marijuana makes you hungry because of the way it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. This system is responsible for regulating various essential functions, including appetite. The endocannabinoid system is fueled by cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds found in marijuana.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are located throughout the body, including in the hypothalamus. When cannabinoids from marijuana interact with these receptors, they trigger the release of hunger hormones. This is why marijuana makes you hungry: the cannabinoids in marijuana activate the same receptors that control hunger in the brain.
How Does Weed Make Us Hungry?
When you smoke weed, the cannabinoids in the plant bind to receptors in your brain and alter your perception of hunger. In other words, marijuana tricks your brain into thinking you're hungrier than you are.
This is why people who smoke weed often experience the munchies, or an intense desire to eat. The munchies can be a real problem for people who are trying to lose weight, as they can easily overindulge when they're high.
But the munchies aren't all bad. The increased appetite can be helpful for people who are struggling with cancer or other diseases that cause a loss of appetite. In some cases, marijuana is even prescribed to help patients eat more and gain weight.
Medical Marijuana for Cancer Patients
Cancer patients often lose their appetite during treatment. This can be due to the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting. Cancer patients may also have a hard time eating because of the tumor itself.
Marijuana can help cancer patients regain their appetite and improve their overall health. This makes perfect sense, as marijuana has been used to stimulate appetite for centuries. In fact, the first recorded use of marijuana as a medicine was in Romania over 5,000 years ago.
Marijuana is now used to help patients with a wide variety of medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS, and chronic pain. In many cases, marijuana is a safer and more effective treatment than traditional medications.