A team of researchers from Yale University may have discovered what causes the munchies after smoking marijuana. They conducted a study involving dozens of lab mice to try and come out with a scientific explanation behind the urge to eat ravenously after smoking marijuana.
Tamas Horvath, one of the researchers involved in the study said that they wanted to see why do people feel the need to eat a large quantity of food after smoking dope.
Horvath and his group of scientists study the brain circuits responsible for controlling hunger and satiety.
Marco Koch, a German researcher, joined the team to observe and study how marijuana affects the body’s ability to feel satiated.
One of Koch’s theories is that marijuana contains active ingredients that turn off neurons located in the hypothalamus. These neurons (POMCs) are known to inhibit the sensation of being hungry.
Koch then wanted to prove if this applied to the brains of lab mice and found that it was quite the opposite.
His experiment suggested that the POMCs neurons were not turned off in the mice, but were turned on even more.
The researchers managed to turn of the POMCs in the mice’s brain using a special technique. The mice were then given chemical marijuana and researchers saw that the mice ate less.
After that, the researchers increased the action of the POMCs and observed that the mice started to eat more.
The scientists wondered how is it possible that the same neurons responsible for satiety can promote hunger after being exposed to the marijuana drug.
Further studies revealed that the active agent found in marijuana, called cannibinoids, can alter the way POMCs function. They can change the chemical the neurons release.
When the mice were not given drugs, their POMCs release a chemical responsible for suppressing appetite, called MSH.
When the same mice were exposed to marijuana, their POMCs started to release the hunger-promoting opioid beta-endorphin.
According to Horvath, marijuana can turn the brain circuitry upside down.
Following this discovery, the scientists wonder if people who are obese or who suffer from diabetes may have POMCs that function differently.
The researchers published the results of their study in the journal Nature.
Image Source: pinterest