This is why smoking pot gives you the munchies

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If you’ve ever smoked a joint or have eaten an edible, then you’re probably familiar with the munchies (aka, when you’re high and feel like you should, and could, eat anything and everything in sight). Nothing is off-limits when the munchies take hold, not even that half-eaten bag of week-old Doritos. Now, although we may be familiar with the munchies, do we actually know what causes them?

Thanks to Tomas Horvath, a professor of neurobiology at Yale, and his team of researchers, we may just have the answer. According to Munchies, Horvath studied how cannabinoids, such as THC, mess with normal brain function — specifically in relation to feeding, appetite, and fullness.

Horvath teamed up with Marco Koch of the University of Leipzig to conduct these studies, and the two found some interesting conclusions. Namely, they discovered that…

“a set of neurons in the hypothalamus—known as POMCs—literally become scrambled when exposed to marijuana … The POMCs usually secrete a chemical called alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), which is believed to play a role in feelings of satiety. When they exposed the mice to cannabinoids, the POMCs started releasing an entirely different chemical: beta-endorphins, which stimulate appetite and promote cravings.”

So basically, the chemicals in your brain that make you feel full get confused and release something totally different when cannabinoids are introduced to your body. This tricks your body into thinking you’re hungry — and voila! — you get the munchies!

Thankfully, once the high wears off, the POMCs go back to producing alpha-MSH, which means your appetite returns to normal.

Thank goodness for that!

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