One of the most common Hollywood tropes about weed is its association with getting the munchies. Most weed enthusiasts can understand because we have all had those frantic middle-of-the-night hunger episodes ourselves.
However, with both film depictions and real life, hunger pangs are almost always associated with smoking cannabis. Does the same hold true for vaping weed?
Vapes in the Hood digs in (hah!) to discover whether vaping weed makes you hungry.
The Science of Hunger in Marijuana
A lot of what we tell you at Vapes in the Hood is anecdotal but we try to support our views with facts and figures wherever we can. Here is a quick foray into the scientific research on the effects of cannabis on appetite. We have focused on the two main chemicals in marijuana, THC and CBD.
THC increases appetite
Cannabinoids. The name itself is heavy with suggestion. Most people are shocked to learn that cannabinoids are not only found in cannabis but produced naturally by the human body, too. They are lipids (fats) that work on the brain to induce appetite, control mood, retrieve memories and to sense pain.
The cannabinoid in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, which most of us know as THC. THC latches on to the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain used by the body’s own cannabinoids.
This short-circuits the signals sent by these receptors to the brain’s control center, the hypothalamus, in normal conditions.
Instead of telling the brain that you are full and should stop eating, neurons transfer the exact opposite message. Tamas Horvath, a neurobiologist at Yale University School of Medicine says, “Even if you just had dinner and you smoke pot, all of a sudden these neurons that told you to stop eating become the drivers of hunger.”
“It’s like pressing a car’s brakes and accelerating instead. We were surprised to find that the neurons we thought were responsible for shutting down eating, were suddenly being activated and promoting hunger, even when you are full. It fools the brain’s central feeding system.”
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CBD suppresses appetite
CBD, on the other hand, is cannabidiol, the ‘good’ chemical in marijuana. While THC gets you high and increases your appetite, research shows that CBD is not psychoactive – it has no effect on your state of mind and can work to actively suppress your hunger.
In fact, the researchers from Johns Hopkins University who conducted this study revealed that when participants used weed samples in which there were varying concentrations of THC and CBD, “…appetite increased less in the high CBD strain” (our emphasis).
Further investigations led them to conclude that, “In this study, the strain high in CBD elicited less appetite increase compared to the THC-only strain.”
This gives us a very clear picture of the struggle for dominance between the two chemicals in a normal (non-genetically manipulated) strain of weed.
The conclusion we can draw from this information is that if the weed we use in our vaporizers has a high CBD content, it will make us less hungry. If there is relatively higher THC content, the opposite occurs.
Applying the Science in Real Life
While the science behind the association of weed and hunger seems to be well established, there is no exact system to measure its effects on an individual.
From both research and anecdotal evidence, we know that the effects and side-effects of using marijuana are more acute in new and infrequent users. Illnesses, neuroses and chronic medical conditions can also have a significant impact.
A reduction in appetite through CBD may be a godsend for many marijuana vapers because most of us would rather lose weight than gain any.
On the other hand, the increase in appetite brought on by THC does not really help vapers who want to gain weight, either – no one gains ‘good weight’ by munching on chips and pretzels.
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The Final Puff
It may be tempting to opt for a strain with higher CBD content in your attempts to control your weight by suppressing your hunger.
Before you do, understand that the human body is a very complex machine – any attempt to artificially manipulate its chemical balance risks upsetting the naturally established equilibrium.
A regular exercise routine coupled with responsible vaping will give you the best of both worlds.
Stay Elevated, Jack OG