24 May 2022

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 May 24, 2022
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Most cannabis users and non-users know that using marijuana can lead to stimulating hunger or more simply getting the munchies. While stimulating hunger can be life saving for patients undergoing cancer treatments or other ailments that suppress hunger, it also commonly has people wondering, does marijuana make you gain weight?

Why Does Smoking Cannabis Make you Hungry?

First let’s take a look at what happens when cannabis is smoked or consumed and how that stimulates hunger in the human body. Cannabinoids in marijuana bind to CB1 receptors in the brain that cause a number of things to occur in our body. One of those cannabinoids you may be familiar with is Tetrahydrocannabinol or simply known as “THC”. THC is a cannabinoid that is responsible for giving users the euphoric high feeling but also stimulates the production of a hormone in our body known as Ghrelin. Ghrelin has multiple functions but is known as the “hunger hormone” because it stimulates appetite, increases food intake, and promotes storage. The increase in levels of Ghrelin in the stomach signals to your brain it is time to eat.

In addition to the increased levels of Ghrelin, there is another hormone playing a role here. Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells that bind to CB1 receptors that tell the body it does not need anymore food. When cannabinoids bind to CB1 receptors, Leptin is blocked from those CB1 receptors and therefore unable to signal to the body that it does not need to consume any more food or calories.

Finally, cannabinoids in marijuana can also enhance the ability to smell and taste making food, especially those sweets and treats, taste even better. Combine all of these factors and there is little surprise why cannabis users find themselves probing the pantry after they indulge.

Cannabis and Weight Gain Studies

While cannabis studies and testing continue to ramp up with legalization in the States, there are some published studies attempting to identify a link between cannabis use and weight gain. One study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found over a three year period cannabis users gained an average of two less pounds than non-cannabis users. The study had 30,000 participants. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that non-cannabis users were more likely to be obese than cannabis users.

While there is still plenty of additional research and testing to be done, initial data suggests that cannabis users are not likely to gain weight at a faster rate than non-cannabis users. Published studies have in fact shown the opposite. While no one is saying cannabis can be used to lose weight, there is data that suggests your typical cannabis user is no more likely to become obese due to the hunger stimulating effects of cannabis and Tetrahydrocannabinol.

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