The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that marijuana, containing the psychoactive compound THC, is widely used across the country.
THC, upon inhalation, swiftly enters the bloodstream, affecting the brain and body within minutes.
Immediate effects include mood shifts, altered physical movements, and changes in perception, while prolonged use may elevate the risk of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or paranoia.
Beyond the well-known side effects, there’s a mysterious phenomenon associated with marijuana use: the “munchies.”
A 2019 study in Human Ethology revealed that individuals tend to consume more food, particularly unhealthy snacks, when under the influence of marijuana.
Scientifically, marijuana tricks the brain into perceiving hunger, contributing to increased food intake.
Contrary to expectations, a 2015 rodent study published in Nature found that introducing cannabinoids into mice increased the activity of specific neurons responsible for signaling satiety.
This contradicted the notion that marijuana suppresses these neurons, suggesting a complex interaction between cannabinoids and neural messaging.
Impact of Marijuana on Human and Organismic Physiology
Moreover, cannabinoids enhance the taste of food by binding to tongue receptors, intensifying the brain’s response to sweet treats and elevating cravings for fatty foods, as noted by GoodRx Health.
Surprisingly, a 2023 study from the University of Oregon suggested that worms, too, exhibit food-seeking behavior when exposed to cannabinoids, shedding light on the universality of this response in living organisms.
Examining human behavior, a 2019 study at a cannabis advocacy event found that over 75% of participants favored unhealthy foods when high.
As marijuana legalization expands, experts emphasize the need for nutritional awareness, advocating for a harm reduction approach instead of strict abstinence.
While some studies suggest a potential link between marijuana use and increased risk of overweight or obesity, conflicting research indicates a lower body mass index (BMI) in marijuana users.
However, various factors complicate these findings, including different patterns of marijuana use and the potential influence of other substances on BMI.
For those grappling with the munchies, GoodRx Health recommends exploring microdosing THC or opting for cannabidiol (CBD) products, which are believed to suppress rather than heighten appetite.
As marijuana’s impact on health continues to be scrutinized, ongoing research aims to unravel the intricate relationship between this widely-used substance and its effects on human physiology.