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Why does Marijuana Give you the Munchies? A Scientific Study Found the Answer.

Not all marijuana strains make you feel like you haven’t eaten in a week. For those with difficulty eating, undergoing chemotherapy treatment or are battling an eating disorder, having the munchies is a good thing. But, you’ve just eaten a regular meal, used a little marijuana and now you feel like you didn’t eat – why? I’ll explain to you what science says about the munchies and give you a few tips to combat the munchies.



For decades, the association of getting hungry after using some marijuana strains has stumped scientists. A group of scientists in Europe took on this task. Leading the study was Giovanni Marsicano of the University of Bordeaux.

The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, was conducted on mice. The olfactory bulb in the brain is what controls the sense of smell. When using some types of marijuana, this sense is heightened, making you more likely to smell specific scents that generate the feeling of being hungry. Your taste buds are also more receptive to taste after using some marijuana strains.

The olfactory bulb is not the only part of the body that generates the munchies. The endocannabinoid system helps control appetite, pain, memory and our emotions. The brain has the ability to produce its own chemicals (cannabinoids), and THC mimicks the same activity that naturally produced chemicals in the brain do.


The Study

Mice were given banana and almond oils, among others, to test their sense of scent as their brains work very similarly to the human brain. Before the mice were given THC, they sniffed the oils and lost interest. After being medicated, those same mice were far more interested in the oils and paid more attention to the scent.

It was also noted that “medicated mice” ate more food than those that were not.

The basic findings of the study show that marijuana (THC) increases sensitivity in the brain, and with scent and taste so close in relation it is easy to see that smelling something delicious or comforting after using marijuana may just make you hungry.

More dopamine is also released in the brain after using marijuana. Dopamine releases the sensation of pleasure; in this case, satisfaction would come from eating. Working with the hormone ghrelin, feelings of hunger are generated.

The Simple Answer
The THC in marijuana basically makes our brains tell us that we're hungry, or in some cases – starving.


A Couple Tips on How to Battle the Munchies Before we go

So, now that we at Leafist have given you the answer to why you get the munchies, we’re going to help you fight off the munchies with a few tips.

  1. Eat before you use marijuana – if you eat before you partake, you can tell yourself “Hey, I just ate, I am definitely NOT hungry.”
  2. Have a cup of coffee – Hot liquids, like coffee, can help you fill your stomach and reduce feelings of hunger. Now, if you have flavored coffee creamer, this can satisfy your “munchies” for sweet treats.
  3. Portion out healthy snacks before you smoke – To prevent over-eating, portion out healthy snacks when you’re sober and make sure you only eat 1 portion.
  4. Flavored Water – After your portioned healthy snack, or even if you don’t want a snack at all, have some flavored water. You can trick your brain into thinking that you ate.

You don’t have to give into the munchies. I, personally, ignore it all the time because I’ve usually just eaten a meal and know that I’m full. You have to be conscious of your food intake, or you could gain a significant amount of weight from just giving in and not understanding that your brain just says you’re hungry, you’re really not hungry – unless you actually haven’t had your breakfast, lunch or dinner yet.

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