A bad case of the munchies is one of the most common and loveable cannabis side effects. Yet, while many may joke about their trips to Taco Bell or have the pizza delivery guy on speed dial, a new study suggests that cannabis food cravings might work a little differently than commonly thought.
It has long been taken for granted that cannabis increases cravings for hyper-palatable foods, like fatty pizzas and sweet cupcakes. However, a study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research calls bluff on this assumption.
While the plant may still make you want to chow down, this new study suggests that cannabis doesn’t give you a sweet tooth. In fact, the researchers found that low doses of the herb don’t contribute much to food preference at all.
Weight watchers around the world can rest assured that their favorite green herb won’t have them sneaking a few extra tidbits from the cookie jar.
Does cannabis give you food cravings?
Dutch researchers have just discovered that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive in the cannabis plant, does not cause you to crave sugar.
The fact that cannabis can increase appetite is well-known to the research community and most cannabis consumers alike. THC is thought to be the primary culprit behind the munchies. Once inside your body, the cannabinoid stimulates the secretion of a hunger hormone called ghrelin.
Ghrelin kick starts the digestive process, encouraging you to seek out food. Research has also shown that cannabis stimulates the olfactory bulb, which is a fancy term for sense of smell.
In fact, a 2014 study published in Nature Neuroscience found that cannabis triggers food-seeking behavior by enhancing your ability to smell and search for food.
Study finds cannabis will not give you a sweet tooth
Yet, this recent experiment suggests that low doses of THC do not have an impact on sugar cravings, preference, or liking.
The experiment was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, and randomized human trial. The trial included 10 adult male participants. The participants were asked to inhale low doses of a THC strain, CBD strain, and a cannabis placebo.
After inhaling, participants sampled a chocolate milk-like drinks with various degrees of sweetness. Participants tried the materials and were then given two weeks off prior to testing out another one.
The end results suggested that neither low doses of THC nor CBD caused participants to crave sugar more than non-consumers. Rather, the study participants preferred tastes that were a little more savory. Even when given unlimited access to their favorite chocolate milk, cannabis did not seem to affect a consumer’s preference or level of consumption.
While this study is a bit of a departure from public perception, this new research did find that those who consumed THC were less likely to feel full after sampling chocolate milk. Participants were more likely to desire food in general with THC.
Cannabis consumers eat on average about 600 calories more per day than non-consumers. However, this research shows that these calories may not only come from sweet and palatable junk food. Rather, low doses of THC seem to increase hunger all around without drawing consumers to a specific type of food.
Of course, what you eat while under the influence of cannabis depends largely on personal taste.
Weight loss and cannabis are rarely used in the same sentence, due to the onslaught of insatiable munchies that follow after consumption. However, as scientists learn more about the plant’s unique compounds, new discoveries suggest that the two may be closely related.
Researchers have painstakingly isolated a cannabinoid that acts very differently from THC and CBD, called tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). Like the cannabis terpene Humulene (isomer of B-caryophyllene), this dietary compound comes with appetite-suppressing and energetic properties.
Weight Loss, Diabetes and PTSD
In the family of cannabis compounds, THCV is the rebellious sibling that doesn’t like to play by the rules of the household. As mentioned earlier, the compound is capable of curbing hunger for individuals looking to shed some extra weight. It also contains properties that reduce insulin resistance, making it suitable for patients diagnosed with diabetes. This was confirmed in a 2013 study conducted by a team of scientists at the University of Buckingham. During the study, researchers administered regulated, oral doses of THCV to groups of genetically obese and dietary-induced mice. The results showed that the compound was able to improve insulin signaling and sensitivity in the animals.
The revolutionary cannabinoid is non-psychoactive at small doses. When high doses of the compound are consumed, it changes behavior and stimulates the brain in the same way THC does – but the high doesn’t last as long. For people who are sensitive to the effects of THC, THCV is extremely beneficial. According to Steep Hill, a California-based cannabis science and technology firm, it can curtail panic attacks, anxiety and stress without numbing one’s emotions. Taking this into consideration, patients suffering from PTSD and depression may find THCV to be advantageous.
This effect is also beneficial for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s and medical conditions that reduce motor control. For individuals concerned about the crippling effects of osteoporosis, Scientists believe that THCV increases bone growth. Like its other siblings, specifically CBD, the cannabinoid contains anti-inflammatory properties.
Where Can I Find THCV-potent Strains?
THCV-potent cannabis strains are hard to come by, since the plant is known to naturally produce only small amounts of the compound. To reap the full benefit of the cannabinoid, the herb must be specially cultivated or engineered (extracted). One of the first companies to isolate and produce THCV for mass consumption is Teewinot Life Sciences, an international biopharmaceutical firm that focuses on developing “pharmaceutically pure” cannabinoids.
“Our technology removes the negative factors from the plant,”said Jeff Korentur, Teewinot Chief Executive Officer. “We produce the same cannabinoid, just replicated outside the plant. It is identical in every way.”
said Jeff Korentur, Teewinot Chief Executive Officer.
“We produce the same cannabinoid, just replicated outside the plant. It is identical in every way.”
For individuals without access to pharmaceutical-grade THCV (note: most people!), there are strains out there that offer concentrated amounts of THCV, such as Doug’s Varin, Durban Poison and Pineapple Purps. If these life-changing strains aren’t available in your area, the next best option would be to stick to cannabis sativa variants with African origins. THCV also contributes to the plant’s pungent smell, which can serve as an indicator that the strain contains generous levels of the compound.