Why Do I Get The Munchies After I Smoke?


One of the most well-known effects many users feel after smoking marijuana is a powerful surge in appetite, commonly known as "the munchies." This could be a huge benefit for chemotherapy patients who have trouble eating. It could also be enjoyable for recreational users, even if it can lead to being overweight.

However, scientists have tried to understand how tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, stimulates appetite. THC is responsible for the "high" you experience when taking cannabis.

The human brain is divided into different regions. Some regions influence our mood, while others control our appetite, making us eat or stop eating. When you smoke marijuana, THC interacts with the parts of the brain that stimulate euphoria, affect mood, and influence your appetite, making you eat.

READ: How Long Does A Marijuana High Last?

The Science Behind The Munchies Caused By Marijuana


It is well-known that cannabis has the ability to increase appetite. Initial research shows that THC stimulates the endocannabinoid system and interacts with receptors in the brain that regulate our sense of smell and taste. The interaction of THC also promotes the secretion of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger.

While the mechanisms are quite complex, one animal study shows that when THC binds to the receptors in the olfactory bulb in the brain, it can increase your sensitivity to smell. This makes the aroma of food more enticing, thereby causing you to eat more. Simply put, one of the major reasons why you eat more food after smoking marijuana is because you can smell and taste it better.

Another study shows that neurons that usually turn off while you eat become more stimulated when marijuana is consumed. These neurons, known as the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons, are generally referred to as the key drivers for suppressing hunger. When these neurons are activated, it improves smell and makes food seem more appetizing.

However, more research is required to understand how smoking marijuana can change the functions of these neurons. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved synthetic THC as a treatment option for people suffering from HIV-induced anorexia due to its ability to increase appetite.

Due to the limited research into how marijuana affects appetite, there is very little information about the dosage. Also, researchers cannot say for sure what the threshold is for increased appetite. But it is suspected that it would depend on individual bodies and tolerance levels.

Does CBD Cause Munchies?

CBD is another well-known cannabinoid widely known for its ability to relieve pain and anxiety. However, it doesn’t cause the munchies like THC. It seems as if CBD can help reduce the side effects of THC.

Potential Therapeutic Benefits of the Munchies

While the munchies might seem like a negative effect of consuming cannabis, they could have some benefits.

Marijuana is used to treat cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. It not only helps to reduce their nausea, but it can also stimulate their appetite. The cannabinoid improves the smell and taste of food, which might not seem appetizing to them while they are receiving treatment. Therefore, they can eat more and get more calories.

One surprising application of cannabis is for the treatment of overeating.

Cannabis can be used medically to treat several eating disorders. For instance, research is ongoing to see how it can treat obesity. Another study has also linked the use of marijuana by young women to reduce their body mass indices (BMI).

Although munchies are common among cannabis users, not all users get hungry after smoking marijuana. This is because this side effect depends on the dosage consumed. Also, munchies are mostly reported by recreational users.

READ: Does Sativa Help You Focus

Weight Risk That Comes With The Munchies

The munchies effect of THC is more intense in those already overweight. Generally, obese people have a bigger munchie response than non-obese individuals.

Therefore, it is important that consumers maintain healthy eating habits because they can increase appetite and affect weight. There are cases where people smoke marijuana to relax, but it ends up boosting their appetite for unhealthy foods they should avoid, such as chips and ice cream. So these people attribute their weight struggles to their marijuana consumption.

How to Avoid the Munchies

If you are a regular smoker, you might have begun to gain weight due to the munchies. But is there any way you can avoid the munchies? Let’s take a look:

Have healthy snacks handy

It can be quite helpful to have healthy meals or snacks ready for when you experience munchies. Since avoiding the munchies might be impossible, the next option is to ensure that you have prepared healthy snacks handy. So instead of grabbing a bag of chips, why not reach for a healthy alternative?

Chew a mint gum or brush your teeth after smoking

One of the easiest ways to reduce hunger is to have a minty taste in your mouth. Chances are high that if your mouth tastes like peppermint, you will not want to take another pizza bite or eat that bar of chocolate.

Keep yourself occupied

Most times, we find ourselves eating when we are bored. If you have nothing to do while you smoke, you will find yourself wandering into the kitchen to grab that bag of chips. Instead of doing that, why not try out a healthy activity to keep you occupied? You can try reading a book, playing a musical instrument, or going for a walk.

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READ: How Long Does Marijuana Last In Saliva

Why do I get the munchies after I smoke - Final Thoughts

THC interacts with the receptors that increase your sensitivity to smell and taste, making you eat more. The cannabinoid gives you munchies by convincing your brain that you are hungry.

While this effect has potential therapeutic benefits, it also makes some people consume unhealthy fats and sugars. This is even worse if you are obese because dopamine is released as you smoke cannabis. The released dopamine makes it very difficult to resist eating unhealthy foods and snacks.

If you are concerned about gaining weight, a great way to deal with it is to have ready-made healthy snacks. Eating foods with nutritive quality is a lot healthier than packaged foods.