Got The Munchies?

Crispy potato chips in a bowl on stone background.

Folks who enjoy smoking or eating cannabis can attest to the fact that at one time or another, they’ve had the munchies — the cannabis-induced cravings — for sweet, salty or carbohydrate-laden foods.

It turns out tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is to blame. This ingredient is responsible for the “head high” many of us feel when using cannabis, but it’s also the culprit behind our desperate need for snacks after smoking. Experts say THC gets to the part of the brain that influences our appetite, which stimulates our need to chow down. (Of course, there’s a benefit here for medicinal users who have lost their appetites due to chemotherapy and other side effects from some drugs. THC is a stimulant and can help them regain some of their food cravings.) One study published in Nature Neuroscience in 2014 found that in mice, THC significantly increased their ability to smell and taste food, making them want to eat more. Other research suggests cannabis acts on the part of the brain which can increase the amount of dopamine—the pleasure neurotransmitter—that’s released. Whatever the reason, consider keeping salty snacks and sugary treats within reach if you indulge. You’ll thank us later.