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Why Does Weed Make You Hungry?

  • While some strains of the marijuana plant can stimulate appetite in some patients, this isn’t true for every strain (or every patient).
  • There are ways to both avoid the munchies and use them to your advantage. However, you’ll need to spend some time experimenting to find the strain that works best for you.

If you’ve been considering medical weed for anxiety, depression, back pain, or PTSD recovery, you might be worried about the munchies: appetite stimulation caused by marijuana.

While cannabis certainly can make you hungry, this isn’t always the case. Your potential for appetite stimulation depends on both your body’s unique response to cannabis and your chosen strain.

If you’re looking to unlock new knowledge about the munchies, this is the guide for you. We’re breaking down what causes the munchies, exploring strains, offering tips for meeting your nutritional goals with cannabis, and teaching you how to find your perfect strain—whether you want to embrace the munchies or minimize their effects.

Demystifying the Munchies

Let’s cover the basics first: what are the munchies? Are they inevitable for medical cannabis patients? Let’s dive in.

What Are the Munchies?

“The munchies” is an affectionate term for marijuana-induced appetite stimulation; while using cannabis, some patients experience increased hunger or thirst.

Cannabis researchers had a limited understanding of why munchies occur until recently. A study in mice revealed that:

  • One of the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors (CB1) can activate neurons connected to the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH).
  • The MBH plays a key role in appetite regulation, and activating various MBH neurons can stimulate hunger or thirst.
  • Since both CB1 receptors and MBH neurons are spread throughout the body, cannabis likely modulates various MBH activities—not just appetite stimulation.

In simple terms, cannabis can activate one of your brain’s many hunger mechanisms.

While the study only focused on inhaled cannabis vapor, patients using a variety of medical marijuana products have reported the munchies. You might crave your favorite snack once your edibles, oils, tinctures, or capsules take effect, too.

Does All Marijuana Cause the Munchies?

Woman holding beer bottle eating tasty takeaway hamburger while relaxing on couchHowever, prospective patients should keep two things in mind:

  1. Not all patients experience the munchies.
  2. Not all strains induce the munchies.

In short, every patient is different; their needs, bodies, and responses to chemical stimuli are unique. While there are some widespread trends in cannabis responses, it’s hard to say exactly how your body will respond to cannabis until you try it yourself. Your responses could be similar to those of other marijuana patients—or they could be completely unique.

You might also find that the cravings kick in when you use specific strains of medical marijuana.

Strains 101

A strain is a subtype of the Cannabis sativa plant. To better understand strains, consider a common species of vegetable: Brassica oleracea.

Brassica oleracea is the scientific name for wild mustard plants. However, botanists have created cultivars of wild mustard to hone some of its edible features—the leaf buds, flowers, stems, and leaves. The result is a variety of vegetables you’d likely recognize:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower

All of these vegetables are cultivars of the same plant. While they look and taste wildly different, they have the same origin.

Cannabis strains are very similar. But, instead of selectively breeding to enhance specific parts of the plant (like stems and leaves), botanists cultivate various strains to enhance various cannabis compounds.

So, each strain features a unique profile of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. As a result, strains produce vastly different effects.

Strains generally fall into one of three categories:

  • Indica – Patients generally report that indica strains enhance relaxation, induce drowsiness, and support pain relief.
  • Sativa – Many patients find that sativa strains boost creativity, extroversion, and energy.
  • Hybrid – Hybrid strains are created from genetic combinations of both indica and sativa plants. Hybrids can feature a somewhat even split of indica and sativa material or an uneven split (i.e., they can be either sativa- or indica-dominant).

Strains in all three categories can cause the munchies—we’ll break down how to find the best strain for your needs in a later section.

Nutrition and Medical Cannabis: Meeting Your Dietary Goals

Every medical cannabis patient has unique needs—some may be looking to enhance the munchies while others may want to avoid cravings. Let’s break down what these respective approaches might look like.

Maximizing the Munchies

Many patients actually leverage marijuana’s appetite stimulation effect to their benefit to manage conditions like:

  • Chronic nausea (as a side effect of cancer treatment, for instance)
  • Disordered eating
  • Malnutrition

Patients trying to gain weight, increase their overall calorie intake, or maintain a healthy appetite could benefit from the munchies. To maximize marijuana’s appetite stimulation effects, consider:

  • Scheduling doses carefully – Dosing before meal times can help you maintain a routine with other members of your household and ensure timely access to food once your dose takes effect.
  • Keeping nutritious foods handy – Whether you’re dosing at home, at a friend’s house, or on vacation, make sure you have filling, nutritious snacks on hand to sate your hunger. Peanut butter, frozen blueberries, and trail mix are fan favorites.

Minimizing the Munchies

young-woman-eating-fresh-green-salad-at-the-kitche-2023-11-27-04-55-26-utcIf you’re looking to keep the munchies to a minimum, don’t worry—you have options.

While the most important step is finding a strain that doesn’t stimulate your appetite (more on that in the next section), this can take time and practice. If you’re struggling to control cravings while experimenting, try the following tips:

  • Change your timing – When it comes to the munchies, timing is everything. Try to time your dose at a moment that makes sense for your schedule. For instance, if you’re treating insomnia with cannabis, try to time your dose so that you start experiencing effects once you’re already in bed.
  • Change your method – Consider switching up your administration method to avoid the munchies. Some patients find that they’re less likely to feel snacky if they smoke instead of taking an edible, for instance (even if they’re using the same strain of cannabis). Again, experimentation is key.
  • Change your menu – As you fine-tune your dose, method, and strain, you may still encounter the munchies. To meet your nutrition goals, keep snacks on hand that make sense for your needs: fruits and vegetables, crisp salads, or hummus, for instance. Keeping relatively healthy snacks at home will help you manage unexpected munchies without sabotaging your dietary goals.

How to Choose a Strain that Works for You

Whether you’re trying to induce the munchies or avoid them, you’ll need to find your ideal strain. This process can take time, but it boils down to:

  • Trusting the experts – During your medical cannabis treatment, you’ll have the chance to engage with marijuana experts: namely your medical marijuana healthcare provider and your budtender. Your provider can help you create and tweak your treatment plan, and your budtender (the person working behind the counter at your local dispensary or pharmacy) can help you choose ideal products for your budget, preferences, and lifestyle.
  • Documenting everything – As you try new strains, doses, schedules, and methods, consider keeping a journal where you write down the specifics of each dose and the results you experienced. As you collect more data, you’ll be able to identify trends that can help you curate your treatment plan down to the letter.
  • Collect data with fidelity – Healing with cannabis is all about intention—choosing to use cannabis not for its recreational potential, but to recover. Keep this in mind as you experiment: reflect on your experience with each dose, write down what you find, and intentionally choose your products and routine to produce the results you’re looking for.

While you might get lucky and find your ideal dose quickly, pack your patience: it might take time to hone in on your perfect treatment course.

TeleLeaf: Unlock Personalized Medical Cannabis Care

While the munchies are certainly a mainstay of marijuana media portrayals, they’re actually not a given for every medical cannabis patient—and you can even use the munchies to your advantage. A medical cannabis healthcare provider can help you fine-tune your treatment no matter how you feel about the munchies.

When you’re looking for LA medical marijuana doctors who can help you discover plant-based healing, look no further than TeleLeaf. We’re here to connect you with expert, licensed providers in your state who care about your recovery journey—that’s what makes us the best online medical card service provider on the market today.

Ready to explore the potential of medical cannabis? Schedule an appointment to get your medical marijuana card now.


Forbes. New Study Explains Why Cannabis Causes the ‘Munchies.’

Healthline. Beginner’s Guide to Marijuana Strains.

Business Insider. These 6 Common Vegetables Are Actually the Same Plant.

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