Cannabis Culture

Does weed help with appetite?

Does weed help with appetite?

Eating more than you’re typically hungry for is a common side effect of cannabis. However, for patients who are facing an appetite problem, it can be a boon. Medical studies have confirmed that medical cannabis can help build your appetite. Cannabis also acts as an appetite stimulant among cancer and AIDS patients. Similarly, cannabis acts to calm gastrointestinal problems and nausea.

What are the munchies?

The munchies are when you develop a sudden and impactful craving for delicious, palatable sweets and junk food after smoking or ingesting cannabis. 

In studies done on rats which measured their enjoyment of particular edible substances, THC was found to greatly increase the pleasure of the eating experience. So, for example, when the rats were given a sugar-based solution, they showed a normal level of pleasure when ingesting sober. After they had been given THC, they showed dramatically increased levels of pleasure when ingesting the exact same substance. This study confirms what may weed smokers already know: smoking a joint before having some snacks makes them literally taste better. 

How does weed affect your appetite?

There are two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB2 regulates cell proliferation, immunity, and inflammation. CB1 controls memory, pain, and appetite. These receptors are found in different areas of your body. Once you consume cannabis, THC and other cannabinoids bind with the CB1 receptors in your body. These, in turn, stimulate your appetite. 

Moreover, cannabis increases your sensitivity to smell and flavour, thereby tricking your brain into thinking it’s starving. The endocannabinoid system controls your olfactory system, which is related to your ability to smell. Smell is a huge part of taste, and when you smell something that’s delicious you start to drool, so increasing activity in your olfactory processes could drive food intake. Because of this, it makes food more rewarding, more tasty. 

Does weed affect your hunger signals?

Another way that cannabinoids might be acting within your body is within the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of your brain that controls your internal hunger signals. They usually remind you when you’re hungry using feedback systems between your body and brain to drive the behaviour of eating, and therefore staying alive. 

These same signals also tell your body that you’re full. When you haven’t ingested cannabis, fullness seems to be correlated with lower levels of cannabinoids in the hypothalamus. That means that when you flood your body with cannabinoids via inhaling or ingesting cannabis, you’re preventing the hypothalamus from telling the rest of you that you’re full. This is why many people continue to eat even when they’re not hungry when they have the munchies. 

How long has weed been known to increase appetite?

Using cannabis to increase appetite is not a new thing. In 2700 BCE, Chinese people are recorded to have drank cannabis tea in order to feel hungry. Similar records have been found in India.

Can smoking weed help you lose weight?

In 2011, researchers found something most people might not expect on this topic. Through surveying roughly 50 thousand people, they found that the more frequently subjects reported smoking weed, the less likely they were to be obese. This is after adjusting for other factors like age, sex, and other drug use such as alcohol or cigarettes. The most frequent users, in this case measured as 3 or more times per week, were about 40% less likely to be obese than those with no cannabis use in the past 12 months. 

Do the munchies make you gain weight?

There are a few hypotheses about why cannabis smokers are less likely to be overweight, and they’re based on how the cannabinoids in cannabis interact with our endocannabinoid system. THC is the cannabinoid most responsible for the munchies, but long term use of THC may have a weight-loss effect. Repeated receptor stimulation from THC use can lead to a down-regulation, or desensitization of its effects. So, like caffeine, one can build a tolerance to THC, and continued use leads to an oversaturation of THC. This prevents endocannabinoids produced by our body, like 2-AG, from binding to CB1 receptors. 

What this means is that, while use of cannabis can stimulate your appetite in the short run, in the long run it can actually lead to a decreased appetite overall. 

What is the effect of CBD on your appetite?

Another study in 2015 further elaborated that THC was able to prevent gut microbiota changes normally seen in obesity, resulting in lower food intake and reductions in bodyweight and fat. 

CBD, unlike THC, has been discovered to outright antagonize both CB1 and CB2 receptors. It’s not much of a surprise that it theoretically limits cravings and promotes weight loss. CB2 receptor stimulation is associated with reduced appetite. Another lesser known cannabinoid, THCV, can also act as a CB1 receptor antagonist, possessing similar appetite-suppressing potential as CBD. Something to keep in mind, however, is that all of the research mentioned here was done on rats. Your mileage may vary when it comes to human usage. 

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