It is no coincidence that marijuana makes food smell and taste better, according to a new study published in the latest edition of Nature Neuroscience, which finds that getting stoned has a unique effect on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors that leads to a super enhanced sense of smell, and causes what we know as the “munchies.”
Researchers from the Université De Bordeaux suggest that the desire to consume food after ingesting marijuana stems from how THC, the herb’s psychoactive compound, meshes with the olfactory bulb in the brain. It is here where marijuana magnifies the sense of smell, which in turn stimulates the appetite and makes food more attractive – a major benefit for those patients suffering from eating disorders.
Lead study author Giovanni Marsicano says that marijuana can be salvation’s wing for people inflicted with conditions like anorexia nervosa, which has a tendency to contribute to the perception that food is evil. However, by using cannabis to put a patient’s sense of smell into overdrive, they experience an increased appreciation for food that is typically lost with these types of disorders.
To draw this conclusion, researchers studied several groups of mice — some stoned and some sober — and watched how they reacted to the presence of almond and banana oils. What they found, of course, was that the high mice consumed a lot more oil than their sober counterparts. Yet, in a special group of mice genetically engineered without olfactory bulbs, THC did not cause them to crave food anymore than the sober mice.
Researchers say their latest study proves that THC’s effect on the sense of smell is what really leads to an increase in appetite.