It is already obvious to religious smokers and old news to even non-smokers that there is a connection between marijuana and the munchies. But why?
In the Mother Jones article, “Science Explains What Really Causes the Munchies”, by Fatima Bhojani, in which she cites a study published in Nature Neuroscience, she explains how the study has established a previously unknown link: Marijuana activates the munchies by tricking our bodies into thinking we are starving—although we know we really aren’t.
So how does this happen? Well it turns out that the active cannabinoid THC in marijuana activates cannabinoid receptors called CB1s that are located in your main olfactory bulb. This is the part of the brain that produces olfaction, or the sense of smell.
This means that under the intoxication of the THC cannabinoid, your sense of smell amplifies leading you to not only want to eat but eat more and longer. Naturally occurring cannabinoids released in your body will do the same thing THC does to marijuana smokers when you are going through food deprivation. The study that she cites in her article demonstrates this finding with lab mice with one group being sober and the other under the cannabinoid intoxication. Fundamentally, what THC does is that it in a way mimics the effects that released natural cannabinoids do during food deprivation and thus is how THC tricks our body into believing it is starving!
These finding are truly incredible and makes sense of how medical marijuana is a useful tool in stimulating appetite in cancer patients as well as people experiencing anorexia nervosa.