An increase in appetite after using cannabis is a well-known feeling for many users. It has long been called “the munchies,” and has only recently been subjected to scientific research to understand why marijuana has this effect. Read on as we explore this phenomenon.
Why does cannabis give you the munchies?
The first human study that confirmed this seemingly increase in appetite, particularly sweet food cravings, that are correlated with cannabis use dates back in the early 1970s. Conducted research has since then confirmed that marijuana increases both the desire to eat as well as the palatability of food.
The therapeutic uses of cannabis have been studied after observed increases of appetite and body weight in many human studies. Consequently, marijuana has been used in successfully controlling wasting syndrome among patients with cancer and AIDS. Its role in appetite regulation has been studied extensively, but marijuana use associated with weight in the general population is not completely known. Although a correlation between cannabis use and weight maintenance or loss is increasingly being documented, very little is known about the kind of mechanisms at play. With more studies, it is likely that marijuana’s therapeutic benefits for weight control will be better understood and controlled.
Recently, researchers have acquired a better understanding of the way cannabis alters appetite by studying animals and the chemical pathways that are involved in the body. There are more than 480 natural components in the cannabis sativa plant; 66 of which are classified as cannabinoids, which are chemicals only found in the plant. The most popular and researched of these components is called the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Just like opiates, cannabinoids affect its user by interacting with certain receptors that are located in different parts of the central nervous system.
Today, it is known that there are certain receptors in the body that respond to marijuana as well as to cannabinoid-like substances existing inside of us. The particular receptor that is usually associated with cannabis use and appetite regulation is CB1. Research has shown that this CB1 receptor is found active in many areas of the body that work on stimulating the eating behaviour which includes sections of the hypothalamus and hind brain (food intake regulation); reward center of the brain (food makes you feel better), within the stomach and intestinal tissue (lets you know if you are hungry), and the limbic forebrain (help make food more palatable).
Is it safe to use cannabis to stimulate appetite?
Simply put, if you use cannabis, you are replicating an effect that the body natural produces for itself, only that it is much more intense. This changes the eating behaviour. And because it mimics a naturally-occuring process, using cannabis to increase appetite is very much safe. Keep in mind that different cannabis strains and doses have varying impacts on how its components bind with the brain receptors. Therefore, make sure that you talk to an experienced medical marijuana dispensary about your needs; they should know exactly which specific strain and the amount that you should take to ensure that you get the appetite stimulation effect that you are looking for.
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