The Munchies Are Explained In New Research Which Shows That Food Smells Act On The Brain Like Cannabis

The image, inspired by Salvador Dali, is meant to convey the idea that, under fasting conditions (represented by the desert), sense of smell is heightened to promote search and ingestion of food. The cannabis breathe strip indicates that cannabinoid receptors promote food intake by strengthening smell, thereby providing the link between an internal state (hunger), sensory perception (smell) and behaviour (food intake). Credit: Charlie Padgett

The smell of good food makes you want to eat more because of chemicals in the body similar to the active ingredient of marijuana, scientists have found

The research on mice, published this week in in the journal Nature Neuroscience, could have implications for fighting obesity by suppressing the source of appetite.

A delicious food smell activates receptors in the brain which are triggered by endocannabinoids, similar to the active ingredient in cannabis.

The receptor cannabinoid combination stimulates appetite, especially when fasting-induced.

The research was conducted by Giovanni Marsicano and colleagues at INSERM, NeuroCentre, in France.

Further research could look at whether drugs can be used to control the receptors in the olfactory and help people with obesity

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