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Why does Smoking Marijuana Give You the Munchies?

Smoking cannabis and getting the munchies?  

Of course, it’s not uncommon. In fact, it’s one of the biggest stereotypes of cannabis users. They get high, and soon find themselves in the midst of open chip bags, candy wrappers, and more. But why does this happen?  

It’s the THC in cannabis that causes people to reach out for any junk food they can find. However, for those that don’t want to tip the scales simply because they’ve used cannabis, there is a way to curb those cravings.   

Science behind the munchies 

The effects of cannabis, including the munchies it’s known to bring on, all involve science. It’s the way that cannabis affects the brain that causes a body stone, a cerebral high, paranoia in some cases, and the desire to eat until you are stuffed. In 2014, a study was published in Nature Neuroscience that showed the science behind marijuana and the munchies.
In the study, a group of scientists exposed mice to banana and almond oil. Some mice were dosed with THC, while others were not. Those that were not given THC eventually experienced olfactory habituation. This is essentially becoming so accustomed to a particular smell that it no longer holds any pleasure for the mice. This occurs in humans as well. In the study, the mice not dosed with the drug simply stopped smelling the oil.

Those that were given the cannabinoid however, continued to show interest in the oils. This led to the researchers concluding that THC increases the appetite simply by allowing one to smell better, and to enhance the taste of foods. Of course, when food smells and tastes better, both human and mice are going to want more of it.

Smoking marijuana and the munchiesBut why does food taste and smell better after consuming marijuana? It’s because cannabis activates the cannabinoid receptor CBI in the brain. These receptors are responsible for many things, including activating the appetite.

Other research has also shown that it may be the release of dopamine after smoking, vaping, or eating marijuana that is responsible for the munchies. Dopamine, also thought to be one of the “happy hormones,” makes everything more enjoyable, including eating. When THC attaches to the cannabinoid receptor CB1 this hormone is also activated.

Potential benefits? 

Unfortunately, even knowing the science behind the munchies doesn’t help once you feel bloated from eating too much. The urge to indulge though, isn’t always necessarily harmful. In fact, it’s the very effect of the munchies that makes cannabis so beneficial for many.

Many that use cannabis for medicinal reasons are battling a lack of appetite. This is true for the elderly population as well as patients suffering from cancer or HIV. In many cases these conditions, or the drugs used to treat them, can cause a patient to lose their appetite. Of course, humans need to eat in order to nourish their bodies. When people don’t see the joy of eating on their own, a good case of the munchies can step in to help.

How can you stop the munchies? 

So maybe you’re using medicinal marijuana for other reasons than a lack of appetite. Or maybe you use recreational marijuana to enjoy the effects it brings. When this is the case, you probably don’t want to give in to the urge to eat too much. This of course, can bring on obesity issues or simply make people gain weight when they’re not trying to.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop cannabinoids from attaching to cannabinoid receptors to curb cravings altogether. There are though, ways to help yourself from reaching for those snacks.

The first is to exercise. This may be the last thing someone wants to do when they’ve just smoked or vaped, but it can be really beneficial. One can reap all the same benefits of exercising while high that they would if they were sober when exercising. Plus, it can even be more enjoyable! However, the biggest benefit to exercising while high is that you won’t be reaching for that bag of chips or other unhealthy snacks.

Even if you can’t get out to the gym after using marijuana, it can still be helpful to get out of the house. It can be difficult to eat while you’re on the go, and this can be one of the most helpful ways to beat snacking. Take a walk around town, run your errands, and put as much distance between yourself and your fridge as you can. This stops you from overindulging, but it can also be a great way to get some exercise and take notice of the small details outside you may have missed before.

Lastly, consider the strain you’re going to enjoy while smoking or vaping. Indicas are far more likely to give you couch lock and make you prone to eating your way through an entire bag of chips. Sativa strains however, like Sour Diesel and Green Crack can actually curb cravings and suppress the appetite better than an indica can.

Healthy alternatives when experiencing the munchies 

Of course, those who choose to use marijuana should be able to enjoy it fully, and that includes the snacking that comes along with it. Knowing the munchies are out there waiting to strike doesn’t mean you can’t give into them once in a while. You just have to choose healthier snacks.

Water of course, is one of the healthiest things a person can consume. It can make you feel fuller so you’re less likely to snack while keeping you properly hydrated at the same time. Those that want something more than just plain old water though, may find that flavoured water works just as well. This can still help keep you hydrated, while also making you feel satisfied and full.

There are also lots of healthy options that can be kept in the fridge or pantry for when the munchies hit. Fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, raisins, and even whole wheat crackers with peanut butter can provide satiety, without wrecking your waistline. Other healthy alternatives to the junk food that’s usually craved after smoking or vaping could be Cheese, hummus, and yogurt .

Experiencing the munchies after smoking a joint or vaping your favourite strain may be inevitable. In fact, the science of cannabis shows that it is. There are though, things that can be done to ensure that they are properly combated. When they can’t be though, it’s always better to reach for healthy snacks rather than empty calories.

Healthy munchie options

MSNL Team MSNL Team / 17th December 2018

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