We’ve all heard it before: consuming marijuana leads to excessive eating, also known as “the munchies.” It’s true that THC, one of the primary chemical compounds in marijuana, can increase appetite. THC activates neurons in the brain that are usually shut down when you are full, causing feelings of hunger. THC also promotes release of a hormone called ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which regulates enjoyment of eating. But, there’s more to the story.
In fact, some cannabis strains contain cannabinoids and terpenes that can actually reduce the appetite-inducing effects of THC or even suppress the appetite. Take tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV. This cannabinoid can be found in popular sativa-dominant strains like Durban Poison, Jack Herer and Blue Dream, and blocks THC from binding receptors that induce appetite.
Similarly, products higher in CBD can exert a similar effect to THCV, again by blocking THC from binding and stimulating appetite. Strains such as Harlequin, Lemon G, and Blueberry CBD contain significant amounts of CBD, as do a number of capsules, tinctures, and RSOs.
Similarly, terpenes can play a role in appetite suppression. Take humulene, a cannabis terpene also found in hops, sage, ginger, and ginseng. Prominent in strains such as Super Lemon Haze and GG #4, humulene can suppress the brain’s appetite and satiety pathway, reducing desire to eat, and is currently being studied as a weight loss aid.
The kicker? Some studies have found that on average, regular marijuana consumers have lower rates of obesity, smaller waist circumferences, and lesser risk for Type II diabetes than the general population. Though this association does not prove causation, it is an area of interest for further research.
How has cannabis impacted your eating habits? Let us know in the comments!