Why Does Getting High Make You Hungry? Maybe Because Your Sense Of Small Is Ramped Up, Says New Research

Researchers have figured out the science of marijuana and munchies, it seems. A new study in Nature Neuroscience by scientist Giovanni Marsicano of France's INSERM (the French Institute of Health and Medical Research) indicates that the spurt of hunger pot-smokers feel after smoking up is influenced by an increased sense of smell. Cannabis seems to increase your sense of smell — and when your ability to smell is ramped up, so is your appreciation for foood.

Previous studies have shown that smoking weed leads to THC binding to the cannabinoid receptors in your brain, otherwise known as CB1s. Your CB1 receptors are in charge of your pleasure, appetite, perception of time and memory, and pain tolerance, to name a few. The binding inhibits the receptors that tells you not to eat, and so all of a sudden, all you want to do is eat. Forever.

Dr. Marsicano and his team of scientists performed this latest research on mice, which tend to be popular marijuana study subjects, by genetically modifying them and making it possible to turn the CB1 receptor on and off in specific nerve cells — in particular, the nerve cells in the brain's olfactory system, which carry signals to the "olfactory bulb."

First, scientists presented the mice to banana and almond oils to test their ability to sense smells. They noted that mice sniffed at first, and then discontinued after a while — which is called "olfactory dishabituation."

So what came after that? Well...

  • Mice treated with THC continued smelling the scents, which means they didn't become "dishabituated" to them.
  • The mice that were genetically modified not to have a cannabinoid receptors in their olfactory system did not continue sniffing the scents even after being injected with THC — like the non-THC-treated, they became "dishabituated" from the scent after a while, and they also didn't eat more under the influence of THC.
  • The results show that the olfactory system becomes incredibly stimulated with THC, and the keen perception of smells, in turn, made the mice eat more.

Basically, the results show that the ramping up of your sense of smell plays a big part of giving pot-smokers the munchies.

In other weed-related news, a Quinnipiac University poll shows that 51 percent of respondents believe that pot-smoking laws in Colorado have given the state a bad reputation — but the restaurants in Colorado selling edibles could care less.

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