The unavoidable fact of life as a stoner is the munchies. A gift or a curse depending on the eye of the beholder, they are a dilemma that every stoner must face. You’re going to get hungry when you smoke weed; it’s that simple. Maybe not every time, but it will happen, and when it does, you better be ready.
Now, what you like to eat may be different, as well as how much, but most people crave more food and often very fatty, delicious foods that are incredibly unhealthy. As someone who has eaten a chicken sandwich stuffed between the greasy patties of a double cheeseburger, bun and all, on more than one occasion, I can attest to this.
But what causes this phenomenon? For years, this remained a mystery, as it is difficult to study an illegal substance. As rules and regulations regarding marijuana have loosened, the ability to study it has gained traction. Now, we can provide a clear analysis as to what causes the munchies.
The Science of Taste
The first reason may be different than what you had expected. A study by European scientists at the University of Bordeaux discovered something interesting about your taste receptors. Their research has far-reaching implications for many different fields of interest, and could lead to some interesting concepts in food for years to come.
Basically, THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana aka The Dank Chemical, stimulates the brain’s olfactory bulb. This is your sense of smell. What you may or may not know is that smell is just as important to your enjoyment of food as taste is.
Because of this, weed basically allows you to smell and taste food better. That means you crave food more because you can recognize the individual tastes and enjoy it more.
Well, that’s interesting, because things I do not like still taste awful when I’m high, you say. Well, first of all, relax, its not perfect science. Second of all, duhhh. Of course, you only smell and taste things more. You’re going to like the things you like more and still not like the things you don’t like. It’s just common sense.
So, unfortunately you’re not going to love onions all of a sudden. But you make rediscover your love for cheddar cheese. Or find out you should have been eating chicken and waffles for breakfast like every day for the past 30 years (healthwise, we don’t recommend that.) The joy of the weed and specifically of the munchies that its just making good things better, and who can’t get behind something like that.
Fill Your Stomach
Here is the more common explanation that may explain why you feel like you can eat meal after meal after smoking bud. A 2015 study from Yale University researchers indicated that THC actually blocks the receptors in your brain that make you feel full.
Pro-opiomelancortin neurons, or POMC neurons, are chemicals in your brain that fire when you are full, so that you know to stop eating. However, when THC or cannibinoids are introduced to the brain, the brain switches to producing Endorphins, which increase your appetite.
So basically, the thing that makes you feel full stops telling you to feel full and the thing that makes you hungry goes on red alert. That’s why people receiving Chemo still feel hungry after smoking pot, or why you can eat a whole meal, smoke a joint, then eat another entire meal (this doesn’t excuse you actually doing that).
So the next time someone gives you a problem for eating so much, you may explain to them that your munchies are really being caused by neurons firing in your brain and making you not only not hungry, but actually very hungry thank you very much mind your own business.
As a side note, POMC’s are also neurons that have an affect on your level of alertness and sexual arousal. It is fairly common to see decreases in both of these impulses after smoking, so this is another built in excuse right there.
Its All in Your Head!
And here we’ve hit the most unsatisfying answer to the great munchies debate of 2018. The placebo effect. Now, after looking at the science from earlier, you may be skeptical that this plays a part in it, but there is some evidence.
The basic idea is that because you already know that pot will make you hungry, when you do smoke, you inevitably get hungry. Think about it, you’re already thinking about food, and you’re thinking about how hungry you are, so of course you’re going to be starving now that you’ve faced that L.
Don’t get us wrong, this only plays a part in the whole delicious pizza that is the land of munchies. But its not insignificant.
There is a complex chemical reaction playing into that desire for a sandwich with fries, chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, and Cheetos (Gross, but also delicious. Not only do you get hungrier, but things actually taste better. Also, maybe you’re head gets into it a little as well.
But no matter what the full explanation is, these are all just pieces of the puzzle that is the munchies. So, remember to keep enjoying yourself, and still try to eat a little less. But when the hunger inevitably comes, as it does to all stoners, like the tides or storms or a new Transformers movie; maybe don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, munchies are just the chemical culmination of thousands of years of evolution that eventually created the beautiful and delicious crop that you now inhale into your lungs, dried and cracked.
So, for now, keep fighting the good fight, enjoy yourself, stay munching!