Cannabis works in mysterious ways, sometimes helping people feel emotionally closer to their environment or circle of friends. It can also cause you to be increasingly drawn to food – an effect widely experienced by cannabis enthusiasts worldwide.
Yes, I’m talking about the munchies.
There’s no denying that after partaking in cannabis, smells from the kitchen or food from nearby eateries are funneled through a virtual megaphone and amplified on the maximum setting. Before you know it, your whole day or night shamelessly starts revolving around a giant plate of food!
If you’ve ever been baffled by your insatiable, cannabis-fueled food cravings, you’re not alone. For years, scientists have explored the connection between your taste buds and the green herb.
Activating the Olfactory Bulb
European neuroscientists from the University of Bordeaux believe that THC plays an essential role in getting the munchies. To test their assertions, the team conducted a study led by Giovanni Marsicano (published in Nature Neuroscience), which focused on stimulation of the brain’s olfactory bulb in mice. Researchers exposed the tiny participants to banana and almond oils, after dosing the experimental group with THC. Mice that were given the psychoactive compound displayed heightened senses of smell – demonstrated by excessive sniffing and deep concentration.
Behind the scenes, THC makes itself comfortable in the olfactory bulb’s receptors. This causes one to become more sensitive to emotions, memory and appetite (just to name a few). Now, smell isn’t exactly the same thing as taste – so why do you have the urge to eat ravenously?
Contrary to popular belief, taste actually originates from your nose (not your taste buds). Interestingly, some scientists claim that 75-95 percent of taste – not flavor – comes from your primary smelling organ. That’s why when you have a cold or stuffy nose, your favorite food tastes bland and one dimensional.
“The sensation of flavor is actually a combination of taste and smell,”
said Tom Finger, a professor at the University of Colorado-Denver Medical School. “If you hold your nose and start chewing a jelly bean taste is limited, but open your nose midway through chewing and then you suddenly recognize apple or watermelon.”
People suffering from eating disorders, such as anorexia, or undergoing cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, that suppress one’s appetite can benefit from THC’s effects on the olfactory bulb. By making food more psychologically attractive, eating would seem less like a chore and more like a pleasurable experience. Cannabis could also reduce anxiety and stress associated with such conditions and medical procedures.
For individuals concerned about continuously succumbing to their food cravings, it is important to point out that cannabis also contains a unique compound that can help initiate weight loss. Tested by GW Pharmaceuticals, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is capable of increasing insulin sensitivity (hence, reducing insulin resistance) and protecting cells that produce the hormone.
“Rather than giving you the munchies, strains high in THCV tend to stave off your appetite. The terpene Humulene has a similar appetite suppressing effect. So those seeking to lower their daily caloric intake should check out strains high in THCV, Humulene or both,”
explained Emily Earlenbaugh from Cannabis Now.