When you hear the word munchies, one of 2 things might come to mind. The first might be the salty snack mix which includes a variety of chips and pretzels. The other one is probably the weed munchies.
Now that we’ve moved onto the second phase of Canada’s cannabis legalization, many cannabis users will be familiar with the munchies weed feeling, even if they can’t quite put it into words why their stomach can never be satiated.
For many, the weed munchies are an undesirable side effect of consuming cannabis, leading to increased caloric intake and weight gain. For others, it’s a great way to stimulate appetite and calm stomach inflammation.
No matter our reasons or feelings towards the weed munchies, the fact that smoking weed turns us into a bunch of Hungry Hungry Hippos is not lost on us. However, what might be lost is why eating or smoking weed makes us want to eat so much and what changes occur in our bodies to make us want to gorge ourselves.
To find answers to these questions, keep on reading!
What is “the Munchies?” What Causes It?
The munchies is a colloquial slang term created and used by weed consumers to describe the incredible feelings of hunger that tend to follow in the wake of weed consumption. Even if you feel full before blazing up, you’re going to start to feel peckish as soon as you start to feel high!
Weed affects our bodies in numerous ways. While some cannabinoids, such as THCV, can actually suppress appetite, others can cause us to feel sleepy, creative, or focused, depending on the strain, terpenes, and other cannabinoids involved.
THC acts on our body’s endocannabinoid system. Also known as the ECS, this bodily system helps our bodies regulate everything from energy and libido to hunger and mood. The ECS is why so many of us will feel tired or sleepy after eating an edible!
So what happens when we consume THC?
Funnily enough, consuming weed will release ghrelin, a hormone responsible for letting us know when to eat in large amounts. Ghrelin is usually released automatically by our bodies to let us know when it’s time to eat. When we consume weed, we’re essentially clocking ourselves out for lunch without having to wait!
With so much ghrelin in our bodies, our stomachs are going to think that we’re starving and compel us to eat, even if we already feel physically full.
If that alone wasn’t enough, THC also blocks a set of neurons known as POMC neurons from functioning correctly. POMC neurons are located in our brain and let our bodies know when to stop gorging ourselves. In other words, these neurons let us mentally know that we’re full.
Since they’re blocked from carrying out this function, we’ll not only feel like we’re starving for food when we’re not, but we’ll also want to gorge ourselves until we physically can’t eat anymore!
Does Eating an Edible Affect the Munchies?
When it comes to the munchies, smoking a joint or eating an edible will both make you voraciously angry. If THC is absorbed into your body, you’re going to get high (and hungry)!
That said, eating edibles instead of smoking or vaping can improve or worsen the munchies effect!
If you’re eating an edible on an empty stomach, you won’t have much “padding” to cushion you against the edible’s more intense effects. They’ll hit you fast, and they’ll hit you hard because your stomach has nothing else to digest aside from the edible!
However, eating an edible after a full meal will make the effects more muted. Since your body has to digest the food and the edible simultaneously, you can expect a slower release and weaker effects.
Depending on the potency, an edible can actually last longer than smoking a joint or other forms of cannabis consumption. Since edibles have to be digested, the THC content is converted into a more potent form known as 11-Hydroxy-THC. This new compound is transformed by our digestive system and liver and can bypass the blood-brain barrier easily.
In other words, edibles will last longer, hit you harder, and act faster!
Should You Avoid Edibles to Avoid the Munchies?
The thing about the munchies is that you can’t really avoid them. If you’re consuming weed in any capacity, the munchies are going to be par for the course.
The munchies will happen anyway, no matter what method you use to medicate with cannabis. The only thing that will affect the munchies’ intensity and duration is the amount and potency of weed you’re consuming.
Hitting a joint once or twice? You probably won’t even get high. Eating a potent edible on an empty stomach by yourself? The munchies will be the last thing you’ll be worrying about!
However, this shouldn’t put you off from edibles as a consumption method for cannabis. Compared to smoking and vaping, edibles provide an accurate, measured THC dose that’s accurate every time. You’ll know exactly how much THC you’ll be ingesting in each tasty treat without any guesswork required.
If you’re medicating for medical reasons, the edible dose’s accuracy and consistency can help immensely with controlling how much THC you’re consuming. For beginners or those who are eating edibles for the first time, ingesting one small edible can be more effective and safe than taking continuous hits off a joint without knowing how much is in each hit!
Blessing or a Curse?
Despite the majority of us deriding the munchies, they can positively affect medical patients. Patients that have lost their appetite due to intensive chemotherapy, IBD, or other ailments can benefit significantly from the appetite-stimulating effects of cannabis.
Many of us are fortunate enough not to need these effects, but weed has been a literal lifesaver for many to help them get the nutrition and food that they need to fight.
With all that being said, the munchies aren’t that bad. Dealing with it also isn’t difficult if you’re active and strong-willed. Keeping yourself distracted, well-hydrated, and away from the temptation of delicious food will be more than enough to keep the munchies away.
However, if you’re lounging at home with nothing to do, nothing beats the instant dopamine-kick of gorging on food, especially if you’re high!