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  • Writer's pictureAshley Slimak

Why Does Marijuana Make You Hungry?

Marijuana Munchies
Increased appetite or "the munchies" is a common side effect of marijuana consumption.

You’ve probably heard of “the munchies” before. This is a colloquial term given to the tendency for marijuana use to make people super hungry.

In fact, cannabis is so good at stimulating appetite that it is used medicinally for this purpose. Patients with AIDs or cancer can struggle with a loss of appetite or an inability to keep food down, and medical cannabis can help to correct this.

This same effect impacts those who are using medical marijuana for other purposes. If you are someone who does not want to be eating more food, it can be helpful to understand why this is happening and what you can do to control it.

The Science Behind Cannabis Munchies

People have long known that cannabis makes people hungry, but it wasn’t until recently that researchers finally figured out why.

In a 2015 study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that cannabis impacts the brain’s central feeding system, leading people to feel starving, even if they are full.

This impact is primarily caused by THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is a cannabinoid in marijuana that is credited with many of its therapeutic benefits. This includes relief for things like pain, nausea, and multiple sclerosis spasticity.

Thanks to its unique molecular shape, THC is able to bind to receptors found throughout our brains. These receptors influence things like neurotransmitter and hormone release, leading to a variety of physiological effects.

When you’ve eaten, neurons send out signals that tell you that you’re full. One way that they do so is via the release of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone. When you’re hungry, neurons signal the release of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Ghrelin release signals your body that it is time to eat.

Gherlin Hunger Hormone Marijuana
Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, releases and tells your body that it is time to eat.

When THC interacts with receptors found in the brain, it leads to the suppression of leptin and the release of ghrelin. This change in circulating hormones leads to your feeling hungry. This isn’t the only reason why cannabis makes you want to eat lots of food. Earlier studies conducted by the same researchers found that there are cannabinoid receptors that impact how food tastes and smells. Using medical marijuana can actually make food taste and smell better.

Additionally, THC can stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that lowers your inhibitions and boosts your feelings of pleasure. Dopamine release can lower your ability to control your cravings and make giving in to them feel even better than it normally would.

Can You Counteract the Munchies?

We do not presently know of a way to reduce the hunger that medical marijuana causes. The best bet is to have plenty of healthy snacks and beverages prepared before you use your medicine. Fruits, bagged tea, and veggies and hummus are just a few snacking options that might help you avoid indulging in foods you want to avoid.


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Arkansas Marijuana Card Doctor

If you are an Arkansan suffering from one of these 18 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.

Click here to learn more about what Arkansas Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (844-249-8714) and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.

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