A new research study using mice has determined a possible cause for the marijuana munchies. The study from Yale University has discovered that the uncontrollable urge to munch on food after using marijuana seems to happen because of neurons in the brain which normally suppress the appetite. Researchers were trying to monitor brain circuits that promote eating, and this was achieved by cellular pathway manipulation . Transgenic mice were used to study the pathways involved in the mediation of marijuana. Lead study author and Yale Program in Cell Signaling and Neurobiology of Metabolism director Tamas Horvath explained “By observing how the appetite center of the brain responds to marijuana, we were able to see what drives the hunger brought about by cannabis and how that same mechanism that normally turns off feeding becomes a driver of eating. It’s like pressing a car’s brakes and accelerating instead.”
The new research study confirms what researchers have known about the marijuana munchies, that after marijuana use most people are hungry and want to eat. The researchers were trying to determine why this happens. Horvath said “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. This event is key to cannabinoid-receptor-driven eating. More research is needed to validate the findings.” Researchers also need to determine whether these same circuits and pathways in the brain are responsible for the high that users get from marijuana.