Many people assume that since CBD and THC are both compounds found in cannabis they elicit similar effects. It has been proven time and time again that, unlike THC, CBD doesn’t make you high. But does CBD make you hungry?
Let’s take a deeper look.
Does CBD Make You Hungry?
If there’s one thing THC is known for, other than making you high, it’s the ability the cannabinoid has to make you hungry. Typically referred to as the “munchies,” most people are aware that consuming THC often makes you want to consume copious amounts of food…even if you weren’t particularly hungry in the first place.
THC is just one of over 100 cannabinoids contained in cannabis, though. Research shows that CBD may influence the metabolism, but does it make people ravenous like THC tends to do? To better understand this, let’s take a look at why consuming THC stimulates appetite.
It all comes down to how each cannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system. As it turns out, there’s actually science behind the munchies. Check it out.
Why Does THC Stimulate Appetite?
It’s no secret that cannabis has been used by humans for thousands of years. Did you know that there are records that indicate that people were aware that cannabis could cause hunger as early as 300 AD, particularly for sweet and savory foods?
THC is the most abundantly found cannabinoid in cannabis and is directly responsible for stimulating the appetite. The reason people get the munchies is due to the fact that THC binds to and activates the CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain, but also in smaller concentrations in some other areas of the body. These receptors play a large role in hunger and appetite.
CB1 receptors are found in a few areas of the brain involved in the way we feel about and perceive food. For one, they’re present in the hypothalamus, which is considered the primary regulator of appetite, controlling biological functions like hunger and thirst. CB1 receptors are also present in the basal ganglia, which is associated with reward and could stimulate the pleasure we get from eating.
Another way THC stimulates the appetite is by increasing a hormone known as ghrelin, which causes an increase in appetite. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone and when the stomach is empty, you produce more of it, which signals the brain to create a sensation of hunger. Because THC increases ghrelin, it can cause you to feel hungry even when you’re not.
In a nutshell, there’s the science behind getting the munchies when THC is consumed. CBD, however, doesn’t interact with CB1 receptors in the same way as THC. This is why CBD doesn’t get you high…and also why it likely won’t lead to the munchies.
The Influence of the Endocannabinoid System on Gut Health and Digestive Function
You’ve likely heard how important gut health is for maintaining health and well-being. The gut isn’t just where our food is digested; it communicates directly with the brain and is connected to immune function, inflammation management, mood level and more. Did you know, for example, that 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut?
While diet obviously affects gut health, so does stress, lack of sleep and excessive alcohol consumption. How do you know when your gut health is suffering? The following are clear indications that the health of your gut could use some fine-tuning:
- Digestive issues like bloating and cramps
- Loose bowel movements
- Food allergies
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling exhausted
Research shows that the endocannabinoid system is largely responsible for controlling gut function and influences gut health in a variety of different ways.
Inflammation of the gut can manifest in several ways. Irregular periods, fatigue, unexplained nausea, bloating, constipation, mood swings and more are all signs of gut inflammation. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors can help regulate inflammation.
Healthy digestion is paramount for overall health and well-being. When the food we eat moves freely through the digestive tract, we can better absorb the nutrients it contains and eliminate problems such as nausea, upset stomach, constipation and excess stomach acid. Stimulation of cannabinoid receptors in the gut could have a positive influence on the gastrointestinal tract.
Improved Gut/Brain Communication
The gut and the brain share an intimate relationship. When the brain isn’t functioning properly due to stress, lack of sleep or more, the gut becomes affected. Likewise, when the gut isn’t functioning properly, the brain is also affected. What’s responsible for communication between the two?
The endocannabinoid system! By maintaining homeostasis of the endocannabinoid system, gut/brain communication is markedly improved.
CBD Might Not Make You Hungry, But It Might Make You Feel Like Eating
If you’re looking for a cannabinoid to help increase your appetite, CBD isn’t your best bet. While many people assume CBD will have the same effect on their appetite as THC, the cannabinoids influence the body in decidedly different ways.
However, CBD can support homeostasis in the body, which in turn could help improve gut health and balance out your appetite.
Many people who find they need a bit of a boost when it comes to their appetite usually do so because they suffer from an illness or side effects of an illness that keeps them from being hungry.
While CBD doesn’t have the same effect on one’s appetite as THC, it may help the body maintain its digestive health. If you’re wondering if CBD makes you hungry, the short answer is no. It could, however, help your body maintain homeostasis, which in turn might give you a normal appetite. For many, fine-tuning and balancing out the endocannabinoid system is exactly what it takes to achieve optimal metabolic health.
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Hannah Smith is Joy Organics Director of Communications. She is driven by her passion for providing clear and accessible wellness and CBD education. In 2015, she received her BA in Media, Culture and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City and before Joy Organics, worked as writer and photographer in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Vice, Vox, Denver Post, and the Coloradoan.