Ever felt a craving for fatty, sweet or salty food after a good toke or edible? Welcome to a classic case of the munchies. But have you ever wondered why we get the munchies after a good old-fashioned sesh? And, why do some smokers get paradoxically nauseated rather than hungry? Lastly, if you’re wondering whether to munch or not to munch (that is the question), then read on.

How cannabis makes us hungry, and why we get the munchies

The brain regulates different sensations and states of the body, including appetite. The hypothalamus controls the sensation of hunger. After consuming cannabis, THC interacts directly with this area of the brain. Believe it or not, science is still up in the air on exactly how they interact. However, there’s a lot of interesting emerging research. Such as, how cannabidiol could regulate the expression of HPA axis-related genes in response to acute stress, for example.

If we didn’t lose you, what we do know is that THC also contributes to the release of ghrelin in the hypothalamus, also known as the “hunger hormone. Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for stimulating appetite and regulating metabolism.

Also, THC activates the brain’s olfactory bulb, which enhances our sense of taste and smell. Basically, it not only stimulates appetite but it makes eating more appealing and enjoyable, too. It at least partially explains why as a stoned teenager I once thought adding coffee creamer to cereal was God’s gift to man. 

To munch or not to munch

For many people that are struggling with nausea and loss of appetite, the munchies can be a good thing. Whether you’re using cannabis for medical reasons or simply want to enjoy a feast, here are some recommendations for cannabis strains that you can use to boost your appetite.

Conversely, excessive appetite is an undesirable side effect for some people. If you don’t want to experience cravings after smoking, you can try a type of cannabis that could suppress your appetite known as THCV.

Some of the strains that high in THCV are: Jack the Ripper, Cherry Pie or Durban Poison.

What happens when weed makes you puke?

I’ll never forget watching a buddy from high school clear out a volcano bag, then promptly lean over and blow chunks onto the carpet. The phenomenon is not exactly rare either. The New York Times even reported on it a few years back. It’s called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). Some suggest that CHS has effected up to a third of heavy smokers in the United States at some point, and somehow, all of them arrived at the same weird solution: hot showers.

So what gives? Cannabis famously stimulates appetite and relieves nausea, so why does it make some people puke? It’s because endocannabinoid receptors don’t just live in the brain. In fact, these receptors are particularly concentrated throughout the entire digestive system. Too much THC can mess with these receptors, which alters gut motility — the normal movement of the intestines — and cause severe abdominal pain or vomiting. If you happen to encounter warnings signs of CHS, slow down on your usage, or maybe even take a t-break. Symptoms will quickly resolve once you give your ECS a break.

Please, I could’ve ordered Domino’s by now

For the hungry stoner with the munchies and nothing in the pantry who got sucked into this rabbit hole, why not try these five recipes you can make with practically anything, right now? Or for the adventurous stoner looking to transform the edible experience, check out our cooking with cannabis 101 series.

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