We’ve all been there, you’re high and you’re hungry. Okay, maybe not just hungry but you’ve got a strong craving for something, anything delicious. Most would call this the munchies – but does getting high really increase your appetite and make your food taste better?
According to a study published in Nature Neuroscience, it’s no coincidence that getting baked makes you crave certain foods. In fact, it was scientifically proven through a study conducted with mice. Yes, a bunch of mice got baked and yes, they pigged out.
A team of European neuroscientists at the University of Bordeaux proved that THC – the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – fits into special receptors in the brain’s olfactory bulb, which allows users to smell and taste food way more intensely while high.
This definitely explains why I ate that entire large pizza last night rather than my usual two slices… but how did this study really work?
A little THC enhances scents
According to Smithsonian Magazine, Marsicano and his team exposed mice to banana and almond oils as a test of sensitivity to scent. When they did so, the mice sniffed the oils extensively at first and then stopped showing interest in them. Mice that were dosed with THC, however, kept on sniffing – this demonstrated an enhanced sensitivity to the scents. These THC-dosed mice also ate much more when given the chance, showing an increased appetite.
To further prove this theory, they made a group of mice fast for 24 hours. In that time period their olfactory bulbs actually began to produce large amounts of cannabinoids naturally. This resulted in an increased sensitivity to food aromas which acted as a powerful incentive to seek out large amounts of food and avoid starvation. In other words, getting high makes your sense of smell super strong which gives your taste buds a huge increase in flavour sensitivity.
For medicinal users that have trouble eating due to chemotherapy, or that struggle with eating disorders, this can be one of the herb’s biggest benefits. However, for recreational users who may be watching their waistline, this could be a bit of a downfall. Sometimes while high it’s hard to decipher if you’re actually hungry or just have a bad case of the eat-everything-in-sight-and-then-order-more-and-then-maybe-cook-too munchies.
Luckily, there have been advancements in the development of the appetite suppression capabilities of the cannabis compound tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). GW Pharmaceuticals have been running tests with mice which prove the compounds boosted their metabolism, leading to lower levels of fat in their livers and reduced cholesterol in their blood stream.
THCV was also found to increase their sensitivity to insulin while also protecting the cells that produce insulin, allowing them to work better and for longer. These studies have raised hopes that the drugs can be developed into treatments for obesity-related diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Professor Mike Cawthorne, director of metabolic research at the University of Buckingham who has been conducting the studies, said: “Overall, it seems these molecules increase energy expenditure in the cells of the body by increasing the metabolism.”
Now I just need to know where to get my hands on some strains high in THCV… or stick to my usual and just stock up on some delicious Stoner’s Cookbook recipes. I think for now I’ll stick to the latter, and tonight it looks like it’s going to be Baked Pasta with Artichoke Pesto… I’m already drooling.