That uncontrollable urge to eat after using marijuana, usually called the munchies, appears to be driven by neurons in the brain.
These are normally involved in suppressing appetite but go into reverse with marijuana, according to a study by Yale School of Medicine researchers in the journal Nature.
Tamas Horvath and his colleagues selectively manipulated the cellular pathway which mediates marijuana’s action on the brain, using transgenic mice.
Horvath says: “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.”
The findings could provide benefits such as helping cancer patients who often lose their appetite during treatment.