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The “Munchies” Unmasked

Whether you’ve said it out loud or not, you’ve always wondered it—what causes the munchies? With more states progressively legalizing marijuana, the question is becoming all the more relevant. Studies have recently uncovered the true science behind it.

Let’s begin with hunger. Our hunger is regulated by two hormones, ghrelin and leptin. The chemicals usually secrete from fat cells that then are sent to our brain’s hypothalamus, where it is processed as “hungry” or “full”. However, a recent study completed by European neuroscientists uncovered the answer to the fundamental question. When marijuana is smoked, the chemical THC is what effects our brain and feelings. Apparently their study proved that THC actually attaches to the brain’s olfactory bulb, a sector of the brain designated for any smell sensation.

So why does it make you hungry?

The brain already has a built-in set of receptors known as endocannabinoids, which control appetite amongst a slew of other sensations. The chemical THC intensifies those receptors, fitting in to our normal neural pathway and amping up the drive for hunger largely. Since the feeling hits the mecca of our sensations, we are bound to want to eat, regardless of whether we are hungry or not.

The scientists concluded that THC mediates our hunger through amplifying our reaction to smell, regardless of whether our body is actually hungry or not.

Guess that’s why they call it the munchies

By Aisling Williams

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