Having the munchies is one of the most well-known effects of weed. If it’s your first time scheduling a weed delivery, you should expect to feel the effects of hunger and make a beeline for the fridge after smoking some of the herb. But other than stimulating your appetite, weed is also known for making certain types of food taste surprisingly great. Whether you’re snacking on a gourmet meal or microwaved leftovers, there’s a big chance that the food you’re eating will taste like heaven while you’re high. But what is it about weed that causes this effect?
The answer to why weed can elevate the taste of certain foods may revolve around the chemical components of cannabis—more specifically, its psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This article will shed light on weed’s effect on your appetite, as well as why its benefits go beyond just having a flavorful culinary journey.
What Weed Does to Your Appetite
Preliminary research suggests that weed does amplify your hunger, and it’s largely due to how it activates certain areas of the brain and triggers the release of chemicals that signal hunger. Scientists believe that this is because THC stimulates the production of ghrelin, a hormone secreted from your stomach that induces hunger by stimulating the brain’s appetite center. Essentially, the neurons that “turn off” while you’re eating become usurped and therefore stimulate eating rather than hinder it.
Other studies suggest that weed’s effects on your sense of smell may also be the reason why your appetite increases after using weed. A 2014 study conducted by neuroscientists from the University of Bordeaux discovered that THC heightened the sense of smell in mice, causing the rodents to eat a lot more. THC binds to the receptors in the brain’s olfactory bulb, enhancing your sensitivity to smell and boosting the potency of food aromas. This elevated receptiveness to food smells elicits your cravings, which then drives you to eat more.
But it’s not just the smell of food that becomes more appealing with the help of THC. With it, food often tastes better, too.
How Weed Makes Food Taste Better
The senses of smell and taste are closely linked because of the shared airway between the nose and mouth. This means that humans can smell and taste foods simultaneously. So, if getting high magnifies our responses to food smells, it’s likely to do the same with flavors.
Weed also activates various areas in the brain’s control center, including a region that involves the body’s reward system. THC is known to trigger the release of dopamine, which is one of the body’s “happy hormones” associated with lowering your inhibitions and increasing pleasurable sensations. This makes eating a more satisfying experience, causing a spike in appetite.
One study conducted by neuroscientist Nicholas DiPatrizio from the University of California, Riverside, reveals that there may be certain flavors that become more appealing than others when you’re high. DiPatrizio’s research found that THC activated the parabrachial nucleus in mice brains, which led to the rodents eating fatty and sugary foods and not those with bland flavors. As the study suggests, weed is likely to make us consume food with high sugar and caloric content such as potato chips, ice cream, cookies, and other types of junk food.
Weed Doesn’t Make All Food Taste Better, Though
While it’s true that THC can make food more enticing to smell and taste, it may not do the same for food you already dislike.
According to a study by scientists from the University of Cagliari, THC has no effect on the taste of disliked foods despite heightening the flavor and aroma of foods with high sugar and caloric content. This means that if you’re not a big fan of veggies like broccoli, you’re less likely to eat them even if you’re high. Therefore, weed is unlikely to make all foods taste better despite its evident effect on the more universally liked foods.
Potential Benefits of Weed-Induced Appetite
In the early 1980s, it was reported that a hospital volunteer known as Mary Jane “Brownie Mary” Rathbun baked approximately 600 weed-infused brownies every day and distributed them to patients with HIV/AIDS. This helped the patients regain their appetite and get their much-needed nourishment. With weed’s effect on hunger, it could be used for therapeutic applications such as what Mary did at the height of the AIDS crisis.
Giovanni Marsicano, a neuroscientist who is part of the University of Bordeaux team that conducted the 2014 study, noted that weed may help in treating feeding disorders such as anorexia. According to Marsicano, such disorders are caused by altered perceptions. These perceptions can be managed by weed and its effect on smell and taste. This could present an opportunity to develop therapies to help curb symptoms of appetite loss associated with illnesses such as the flu, hepatitis, diabetes, dementia, cancer, and other chronic ailments. So, in addition to making eating more enjoyable, weed can also help manage illnesses and potentially save lives.
The Bottom Line: Weed Plays a Big Role in How We Enjoy Food
At its core, eating tasty food is already a high in itself. When paired with cannabis, the munchies could be a much more satisfying experience than usual. Although weed probably won’t increase your liking toward certain types of food, it does make you better appreciate the snacks in your fridge that you might have been taking for granted. More than its implications on appetite, cannabis can also have therapeutic benefits and help those who are ill get the nourishment they need.
At the end of the day, one thing’s for sure: weed does make you realize why people love to eat.