Snacking – it’s basically a national past time. But the science behind why we get the “munchies” could be down to effects that substances have on the brain, new research suggests.
A common side effect of smoking cannabis is the urge to eat, more commonly referred to as the “munchies,” and researchers at Yale University looked into how the brain is affected by smoking the substance leading to increased feelings of hungry.
In their study, published in Nature, the researchers found that the strong urge to eat after smoking is caused by cannabinoids that can ‘hijack’ the brain cells that subdue appetite. The brain then producing a different group of chemicals that stop the feeling of fullness and keep you feeling hungry.
They assessed how the appetite area of the brain responded to the use of marijuana, and found that by activating a cannabinoid receptor in the brain (CB1R) of mice, there was an increase in their urge to eat. They also saw that the brain cells that are normally responsible for shutting down eating, were being subverted to promote hunger by the cannabis.
So the having a strong case of the munchies after smoking cannabis is not only a case of the substance increasing your urge to eat but can also keep you feeling hungry even if you’re, in fact, full.