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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Scientists got a bunch of worms high and all they wanted to do was eat the junk food

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After consuming cannabis, many individuals experience a slight increase in their hunger, Known as snacks. This phenomenon is so widely recognized that it often appears in movies and television shows, depicting people craving food after smoking cannabis.

However, the Snacks are not just a myth. Cannabis has the ability to stimulate appetite and cravings in people. Let’s dig deeper into the mechanisms through which this effect is triggered.

Why does cannabis make people hungry?

Cannabis affects appetite through two different mechanisms. First, it can enhance the flavor of food, making it more appealing and more likely to be eaten. Second, it can trick the brain into recognizing hunger cues, even when you’ve eaten recently.

when hempThe active ingredients in cannabis bind to specific receptors in the body, producing distinct effects. When binding to receptors on your tongue, it increases the brain’s reaction to sweet-tasting foods and increases the craving for fatty foods. Moreover, a clinical investigation indicated that inhaling cannabis can enhance the production of hormones responsible for triggering hunger.

It is important to note that not all cannabis products cause hunger, as the effect on appetite levels depends on the activation of specific receptors. The primary cannabinoid responsible for stimulating appetite is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)while other cannabinoids may not activate receptors that regulate hunger.

While THC is the primary cannabinoid known to boost appetite, it is just one of more than 100 active chemicals in cannabis. Animal research has revealed this cannabigrel (CBG), another cannabinoid, may also induce hunger without causing the intoxicating effects of THC. This makes CBG an attractive study area for researchers seeking to stimulate appetite without the associated high that THC produces.

How long do Munchies last?

The duration of snacking after cannabis consumption can be difficult to determine precisely. The amount and method of consumption are important factors affecting the course of effects.

For example:

Inhaling or smoking cannabis: This method causes cannabinoids to reach a peak concentration in the brain within 3 to 10 minutes and usually disappear within 2 to 3 hours.

Oral cannabis consumption: When cannabis is ingested, it can take up to two hours for it to reach its maximum concentration in the brain. However, its effects may last 6 to 8 hours, sometimes longer. It should be noted that individuals may react differently to cannabis, and as a result, the duration and intensity of hunger may differ from the above pattern.

Worms get Munchies, too

Recent research has revealed that humans aren’t the only ones who experience munchies. The worms also show a similar fondness for their favorite treats after consuming cannabis.

According to Sean Lockery, a researcher at the University of Oregon in Eugene, the cannabis plant increases nematodes’ appetite for their favorite foods while simultaneously reducing their hunger for non-preferred foods. As such, the effect of cannabis on nematodes is in line with the effects of marijuana on human appetite.

He added: “Nematodes split off from the evolutionary lineage of mammals more than 500 million years ago. It’s amazing that the effect of cannabis on appetite has persisted for so long.”

Lucre explained that the genesis of the study dates back to 2015, after the legalization of cannabis in Oregon. At the time, he noted, the lab at the University of Oregon was busy analyzing nematode food preferences as part of our study of the neural underpinnings of economic decision-making.

In an almost hyper-rushed “Friday afternoon experiment,” they decided to dunk the worms in a cannabinoid to explore if it affected their current food choices. It’s amazing that she did! And after years of pursuing research, the results are finally documented in this paper.

Cannabinoids exert their effects by binding to cannabinoid receptors and marker proteins in the brain, nervous system, and other body tissues. These receptors normally interact with endocannabinoid molecules that occur naturally in the body. The endocannabinoid system controls many critical functions, including eating, memory, learning, anxiety, metabolism, and reproduction.

The molecular structure of the cannabinoid system in nematodes bears a striking resemblance to that of humans and other creatures. This led to whether the appetite-stimulating effects of cannabis, otherwise known as “delicious nutrition,” would also be maintained across species.

Experiment details

In the latest study, the scientists first showed that nematodes respond to the endocannabinoid anandamide by consuming more food, especially their favorite kind. The team also discovered that the effects of endocannabinoids on the worms were contingent on the presence of their cannabinoid receptors.

The researchers conducted additional studies where they genetically modified the cannabinoid receptors of C. elegans using human cannabinoid receptors. They discovered that the worms responded as expected to the cannabis. This finding highlights the similarity in the effects of cannabinoids in both nematodes and humans. The team also found that the effects of anandamide depend on neurons involved in food detection.

Lucre explained that cannabinoids cause a significant change in the sensitivity of crucial olfactory neurons responsible for food detection in C. elegans. Neurons become more responsive to pleasant smells and less responsive to unpleasant food smells. This phenomenon explains the differences in the worm’s food intake, similar to how THC enhances the flavor of savory foods in humans.

According to Lockery, the discoveries in C. elegans are interesting and have enormous practical implications. He stated that cannabinoid signals are widely diffused across different tissues in the human body, indicating their potential involvement in the development and management of many diseases.

Function of the human cannabinoid receptor gene in studies of C. elegans food preference creates an opportunity for rapid and cost-effective screening of drugs aimed at targeting diverse proteins involved in cannabinoid signaling and metabolism. This has significant implications for human health.


Research on how cannabinoids affect nematodes reveals new information about the evolutionary conservation of the endocannabinoid system and its function in controlling hunger in many species. The effects of cannabinoids on appetite appear to be the same in worms and humans, indicating a highly conserved mechanism in the brain and nervous system.

This study opens up new avenues for studying the complex interaction between cannabis and appetite regulation, which may help create new therapies for diseases such as cachexia loss of appetite Realizing that nematodes also have nutritional needs could lead some people to re-evaluate their opinion of these microscopic creatures, shifting them from unrelated soil-dwelling creatures to ones associated with similar appetites.

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