A plate of fresh brownies

Later, related research proves why it’s so hard to eat just one pot brownie.

Tonight’s music video is “Kinky Neighbors,” performed by the Wet Spots. Maybe you have them. Maybe you’ve been them.

I was reminded of the Wet Spots & this song by Dan Savage’s recent Valentine’s Day podcast. The theme is “Sex & Death,” it’s a lot funnier than you might expect given that, and worth a listen while you’re doing chores.

Research published in Nature Neuroscience may have discovered the cause of the munchies, those hunger pangs experienced by many a cannabis user over the centuries. Mother Jones reports:

Turns out that THC, the active ingredient in Mary Jane, activates cannabinoid receptors called CB1s that live in your brain’s ‘olfactory bulb.’ This is the part of the brain that helps you smell.

Cannabinoid intoxication—i.e. getting high—boosts ‘odor detection,’ amplifying your sense of smell and taste, which causes you to eat more. The authors of the study showed this with mice: First, they exposed a group of sober mice to banana and almond oils. The critters sniffed the oils, but then lost interest. But when a group of mice under cannabinoid intoxication were exposed to the same scents, they got the munchies: They maintained interest for much longer and also ate more. A dose of THC ‘decreased the threshold of odor detection and this effect was clearly correlated with successive food intake,’ says the study. Natural cannabinoids released by your body during food deprivation do the same thing that THC does for pot smokers—’hunger arouses sensory perception, eventually leading to an increase in food intake.’

The researchers also proved this another way: They genetically engineered mice to lack the type of cannabinoid receptor that THC binds to. Without these receptors, the appetite was unaffected by THC, as well as by food deprivation. This showed further that both THC and natural cannabinoids produced from hunger work to increase odor sensitivity.

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Photo by Cristiano Betta released under a Creative Commons license.