The Science of Why We Get Marijuana Munchies

Why Does Weed Give You the Munchies?

Every cannabis smoker in California knows hunger. Even non-smokers know about this common side effect. Why does weed give you the munchies? Science explains it.


If you smoke weed, then you must know impulsive hunger. Even after emptying the fridge into your mouth, you still want more food. Although your logical brain knows you are consuming enough to feed California, you just cannot stop yourself from eating more. This is marijuana munchies, and there is a scientific explanation for it. Read on to learn why it happens:

  • Why Does Weed Give You the Munchies?
  • High Mice in a Scientific Study
  • Real Reason for Marijuana Munchies
  • Weed and Its Brain Changing Cannabinoids
  • Last But Not Least

Why Does Weed Give You the Munchies?

The reason for marijuana munchies has nothing to do with your stomach. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, it all happens in your brain. It is actually the fault of your hypothalamus, living snugly in your head, which controls your hunger. Specifically, the neurons inside your hypothalamus become overly excited when you smoke cannabis.

The cannabinoid properties of weed hyper stimulate these neurons. As a result, the signals sent from your stomach do not reach the brain. Therefore, when you are full and need to stop eating, your brain’s hypothalamus simply does not get the message.

High Mice in a Scientific Study

Scientists from Yale University decided to find out exactly why people get marijuana munchies. Initially, they thought that the cannabinoids might be inhibiting the ability of the brain to receive a “full” signal from the stomach. This hypothesis turned out to be incorrect, however. They were very surprised to learn that the complete opposite was actually true.

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After making some mice stoned, they found that instead of inhibiting the neurons inside their hypothalamuses, cannabinoids were in fact stimulating them to the point of hyperactive excitement. Naturally, the scientists thought there was a flaw in their data collecting but, after further scrutinizing their findings, they found that they had followed the correct procedure and the results were accurate.

Real Reason for Marijuana Munchies

In an effort to find out what was going on inside the brains of their stoned mice, the scientists conducted a comparison study. First, they dosed the mice with a neuron inhibitor to slow the hypothalamus function, injected them with chemical cannabis, and noticed that they hardly ate anything.

Next, they tried another approach: They boosted the neuron activity in the brains of the same mice group and got them high again. The mice suddenly got a serious case of marijuana munchies and ate far more than was good for them. This led to an interesting dilemma: How can the neurons responsible for telling us we are full tell us to keep eating so much instead.

According to Nature, the International journal of Science, an additional study showed that cannabis actually alters the chemistry of the brain so much that these neurons release another type of chemical. For example, a sober mouse will release MSH, a chemical that suppresses hunger. After ingesting cannabis, however, its hypothalamus releases the hunger-inducing opioid beta-endorphin and not MSH.

This explains why we get marijuana munchies. Smoking pot reverses our brain chemistry. Instead of feeling full after eating for California, we continue insatiably munching until not a crumb remains.

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Weed and Its Brain Changing Cannabinoids

It is interesting to discover that weed alters the brain to such an extent that instead of thinking that the stomach is full, it thinks it must continue eating. The picture that emerges is of a complex neural system that senses many differentiated molecular signals and acts according to its stimuli. In English, this means that the brain is more sophisticated than anyone previously believed.

Although we now know that cannabinoids change the brain’s chemistry to think you must eat when you are actually full, the study initiated more questions than answers. For example, what is the purpose of the hypothalamus amplifying hunger instead of suppressing it? Is it a survival instinct?

Additionally, is there altered brain chemistry underlying diabetes and obesity? Finally, what does any of this data have to do with being stoned? Was it something our ancestors did? To answer these questions and others, scientists will surely be conducting further research. We look forward to their conclusions.

Last But Not Least

Now that we know why we get marijuana munchies, we can deal with it. Eating a months’ worth of food in an hour can have disastrous consequences on weight, health and mind. Consider cannabis edibles with good California strains. Eating instead of smoking weed can minimize excess gobbling. Burn off excess calories with exercise! Run to the store if you empty your cupboards instead of driving there.

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Comments (2)

  1. Avatar for nswilson nswilson April 2, 2017 / 11:40 am / Reply

    Eating instead of smoking weed can minimize excess gobbling. That is why we get marijuana munchies.

  2. Avatar for zoie zoie April 4, 2017 / 8:02 pm / Reply

    Awesome article, truly eye opening

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