The Munchies, Supported by Science

Listen to the podcast to hear all about the munchies. Noms.

The munchies is no longer the subject of stoner folklore. Increasingly, scientific evidence supports peoples’ testaments of insatiable hunger and heightened pleasure from eating that comes from consuming cannabis.

Layers of new and old information show a more comprehensive and convincing case for the munchies. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — one of the more prominent chemicals in marijuana — fits nicely into cannabinoid receptors in your brain.

THC mimics some of the natural cannabinoids already present in your brain, thus mimicking and usually overloading the natural processes that already occur.

In a 2005 study, scientists found that THC affected CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that controls hunger. It prompted a release of ghrelin, which stimulates hunger.

In another study from 2011 in the journal “Neuropharamacology,” researchers found that THC caused a release of dopamine in the shell of the nucleus accumbens. This area of your brain plays a huge role in processing pleasure and reinforcement learning. This process also occurs while you eat.

Already, science supported the idea that marijuana physically caused hunger while increasing your pleasure from satisfying that hunger.

The newest piece of evidence comes from the weekly science journal “Nature.” It published a study in February finding that THC caused a cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus that typically cause satiety — or the feeling of fullness from eating — to instead cause a release of a type of appetite-stimulating endorphin.

With all these physiological factors in effect every time you take a puff, the argument for the munchies is growing. To hear the full story, and the experiences of real, hungry college students, listen to the podcast form of this story.

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