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