Why do we all salivate and desire flavour when smoking cannabis? Are ‘the munchies’ caused by the substance or does our body need the extra energy?… obviously not. A team of European neuroscientists led by Giovanni Marsicano from the University of Bordeaux found that, in mice, THC fits into receptors in the brain’s olfactory bulb, significantly increasing the animals’ ability to smell food and leading them to eat more of it.

THC fits into receptors that are part of the brain’s natural endocannabinoid system, which helps to control emotions, memory, pain sensitivity and appetite. Our brains typically produce their own chemicals (called endogenous cannabinoids) that fit into these same receptors, so by mimicking their activity, THC can artificially alter the same factors in dramatic ways.

Studies have linked food addiction to that of cocaine addiction. The areas of the brain that light up (showing activity) while a cocaine user is lying in a MRI machine mimic those consuming food, Nicole Avena’s (Neuroscientist at the University of Florida) study suggests;

“We consistently found that the changes we were observing in the rats binging on sugar were like what we would see if the animals were addicted to drugs”.

Patients that suffer from eating disorders similar to anorexia caused by psychological struggles, a variety of stomach problems and/or negative reactions to medication, endure extreme appetite loss to the point of self-starvation. Cancer and HIV/AIDS sufferers struggle to ingest crucial vitamins, nutrients and energy deriving from a lack of appetite induced by the treatment of chemotherapy. Diets effect our body type, health and well-being especially those whose bodies are deteriorating progressively; every glimpse of normality helps. Indulging in ones favourite cuisine is such a personal delight that we all reserve the right to.

Cancer patients; especially leukaemia sufferers lose their desire for food, the drugs used to treat these debilitating diseases leave the victims lethargic, weak and nauseous with a constant sensation of dyspepsia. Inducing munchies through edibles, oils or smoking of marijuana may help to resolve these problems. Triggering the olfactory receptors to peek smell, emotions and appetite; THC additionally interacts with the same sorts of receptors in the hypothalamus, leading to a release of the hormone ghrelin stimulating hunger.

With the gradual acceptance of marijuana as a medical compound, states and countries become re-educated and re-wired. Victims of diseases that dilapidate their eating habits, bodies and day-to-day life, shall have access to a new range of treatments enabling them to partake in the basic pleasures of a full stomach once again, flavours that once danced upon their pallet are relived and re-cherished. The obvious benefits of decriminalising THC products outweigh the negative connotations; all in all patients deserve the treatment that improves their condition not just with what’s legally applicable.