Why Weed Makes You Hungry
And How It Also Helps Control Your Weight
Although the public may not know everything about weed, everyone is familiar with the infamous term, “the munchies”. While it is no secret that smoking weed can get your stomach growling, up until recently, no one really knew the “why” behind it.
Your body uses four main factors to determine your hunger. Blood sugar levels, hormone levels, emptiness in the stomach and intestines and signals from the hypothalamus region of the brain. These same factors signal to your brain when your stomach is full.
However, hunger is different from appetite. Appetite is stimulated by things such as the smell of freshly baked goods or the sight of a large cheesy pizza.
“The mechanism by which cannabis stimulates appetite seems to be through production of a hormone called ghrelin. This hormone acts on the appetite centers in the brain to stimulate hunger. In addition, the cannabinoids can impact taste and smell. The combination is beneficial for those who are having trouble getting interested in food at all,” said Dr. Melanie Bone, a board-certified OB-GYN and cannabis specialist.
This is promising for patients suffering from weight and appetite loss due to HIV/AIDS and those who are enduring chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Some doctors also use cannabis for individuals suffering from eating disorders. The THC and CBD in cannabis helps to decrease their anxiety when it comes to food.
The term munchies leads many to envision cannabis users as overweight burnouts with their hands stuck in a bag of chips.
However, long term cannabis users have an overall lower BMI than those who do not use cannabis regularly. Researchers have concluded that regular cannabis users are less stressed and anxious than those who do not regularly consume cannabis. Stress and anxiety are known to lead to overeating. Regular consumers are also more likely to get the recommended amount of sleep each night. Failure to regulate both components are leading factors to obesity in adults.
Another reason regular consumers do not pack on the pounds is, “Marijuana receptors live on your mitochondria, the power plants that give us energy. It turns out that they have THC receptors and they’re involved in regulating your energy use,” explains Wenk. “What we speculate is that marijuana is getting in there and altering your ability to burn through calories, in spite of the munchies,” according to Gary Wenk, PhD, psychology and neuroscience professor and academic research representative for Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board.
This obviously is not a free pass to eat everything within reach and keep your beach bod, but it does suggest you may have a little more wiggle room. Especially if you are opting for healthier choices when the munchies take hold.