Cannabis brings joy, pain relief, and a sense of wellbeing for a variety of people from different backgrounds. A possibly unwanted side effect though is the “munchies”, a seemingly uncontrollable attack on the fridge, bags of chips, and the cookie jar.
For many patients with conditions that affect hunger, this a god-send, and was cited as one of the main therapeutic uses for cannabis in California’s original medical marijuana bill, Prop. 215. However, for many other users, this is regarded as detrimental and even keeps many away from utilizing cannabis. I get it, waking up with an upset stomach and the sight of empty junk food containers everywhere will bring regret to anyone. So what causes this and are there any ways to mitigate or eliminate the “munchies’?
As a cannabis consultant, a question that I get asked frequently is, “are there any strains that won’t make me hungry?” The answer is maybe. Sorry. THC has long been known to stimulate appetite, with some of the earliest medical texts about cannabis in China and India stating this.
Recently there has been an interest in THCv, a cannabinoid found mainly in sativa strains. This cannabinoid has been found to increase insulin sensitivity and improve glucose tolerance, a benefit for diabetics. THCv binds to your body’s CB1 receptors, where your natural cannabinoids bind to regulate appetite and hunger. This shows that strains containing concentrations of THCv, such as Durban Poison and Red Congolese, could be useful in suppressing appetite and increasing metabolism.
Photo by: Samantha Gades
Of course, if you overwhelm your body with THC many of the undesired effects will manifest, like anxiety, fatigue, and the “munchies”. I think we can all agree that having too much THC in your system saps the willpower to put down the ice cream bucket. So proper dosing is crucial to staying in the headspace you want to be in. Other cannabinoids, THCv, CBD, can mitigate the “high”, lessening the undesired effects while still giving the benefits of THC.
Terpenes, the flavor chemicals found in cannabis and food, also have been shown to work synergistically with THC, helping to balance out the effects of the buzz. Humulene even has appetite suppressing qualities so look out for strains rich in this terpene. The best way to include these minor cannabinoids and terpenes is to utilize full spectrum sources in your cannabis regime.
Full spectrum cartridges, oils, and tinctures are therefore the way to go if you’re looking to gain the benefits from terpenes and other cannabinoids. Flower, of course, is a full spectrum source but keep an eye out for quality organic and sungrown buds as they contain a broader range of these minor chemicals.
Cannabis has been used in ancient cultures as a sacrament and medicine. Indian traditional medicine believes that cannabis has a drying effect on the body and so they combine cannabis with rich foods such as milk, nuts, honey, and butter to counter this. Various herbs are added to this mixture to aid and direct optimal absorption of cannabis in the body. Cannabis prepared in this way is called “pure ganja” and is the primary medicine using this sacred herb.
Within our bodies, THC binds to fats and proteins, while any that do not are broken down by glucuronic acid, a derivative of sugar. This, to me, suggests that your body needs fat, protein, and sugar to properly digest THC. So potentially, this munchie craze is just your body telling you that you need some food to balance it out.
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So if you want to steer clear of junk food binges when you’re stoned what can you do? First, look out for strains that contain THCv and humulene. Second, add full spectrum sources to your daily cannabis. I think the most important thing to do, though, is to holistically use ganja in your life. Utilize the strengths of this herb and try to counteract the weaknesses.
Smoke and start your dinner; enjoying the cooking and smelling of the food will make it that much more special. Wake and bake then make a smoothie. I solve my late night cravings (usually) with a traditional Indian drink of hot milk, turmeric, ginger, cardamon, and honey.