With the most delicious day of the year quickly approaching, we’re dishing out the details on everyone’s favorite cannabis phenomenon: the munchies. From debunking common munchie misconceptions to sharing our favorite snacks to enjoy while high, this episode will get you ready for the ultimate feast. So before diving into that mountain of mashed potatoes, tune in for our tips on elevating your appetite and savoring the flavors of Thanksgiving!
Ellen Scanlon (00:00):
This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over. Are you trying to drink less alcohol this holiday season? I love CANN, a low dose cannabis infused social tonic as a fun alcohol alternative. And How to Do the Pot listeners get 30% off your first starter pack. Use the code, DOTHEPOT when you visit drinkcann.com. That’s drinkcann.com. In more than 40 states, you can have these party ready sparkling beverages delivered right to your door.
Welcome to How to Do the Pot, a podcast helping you feel confident about cannabis. I’m your host, Ellen Scanlon. This is our series Weed Words. Each month we pick a new tricky telling or thought-provoking term or sometimes it’s a funny, fictitious or factual phrase and we explore all the ins and outs of that weed word so that you can do the pot with confidence.
With all of the mashing of potatoes, baking of pies and basting of turkeys happening across the country this November, we felt that there was no better word to tackle than the munchies. You’ve probably heard jokes about the cereal snacking side effect of cannabis consumption, and I do mean cereal as infrequent. Not as in Lucky Charms, but those very well may be a part of it.
My personal favorite munchie is Frosted Mini-Wheats. And they’ve become very interesting to my son when I have them around, so I’ve come up with a code name for them, health squares. I can say that I’m eating my health squares and he is very bored. I don’t tell him that they’re sugar covered health squares and that’s because, well, I don’t always feel like sharing. But munchies look a bit different for everyone. We spoke to Chef Michellee Fox in episode 71 about her favorite things to eat when she’s high, and here’s what she had to say.
Michellee Fox (02:17):
I make pickle plates. I pickle everything that you can imagine like… let me think of the weird ones. I pickled green walnuts and I pickle cherries. So when I’m really high, I’ll make this pickle platter. Literally is making my mouth water thinking about it right now. And then I like to do a little bit of goat cheese in the middle, so then I’ll dip the pickles on the goat cheese and eat it like that. I don’t need dinner if I’m high. If I have my pickle platter, everything is all right in the world.
Ellen Scanlon (02:55):
Now, before we make all of our stomach grumble too loudly, let’s start by first defining what the munchies are exactly. The munchies refer to a side effect of a stimulated or increased appetite as a result of consuming cannabis. Like the other effects of cannabis, not all people experience the munchies, but many new cannabis consumers do. A University of Buffalo study found that after consuming cannabis, 93% of the participants had increased appetite and chose to have a snack. But the munchies usually refer to more of a snack marathon than one single choice to have a snack.
Like Chef Michellee said, it’s not just one pickled cherry, but an entire platter of pickles. The term munchies was first coined in 1971 by an American psychologist who researched the effects of cannabis. He observed how cannabis consumption led to taste sensations taking on new qualities and an overall increase in appetite. He labeled this phenomenon, “The munchies” and the rest is history.
Speaker 3 (04:04):
Would you like fries with that?
Ellen Scanlon (04:06):
From skits and sketches mocking the cannabis induced increase in appetite to full-blown films like Half Baked using hyperbole to joke about this desire to snack and entire categories of food being labeled as “Stoner food,” the munchies haven’t exactly been synonymous with eating reasonable portions, and they often stretch beyond decadent mainstream flavor combinations like the magical duo of peanut butter and Nutella.
If you haven’t heard of stoner food before, I’d like to invite you to think of kind of bizarre matches, things that stretch far beyond your standard pineapple on pizza. I’m talking combinations like marshmallows on vegetables or bacon with fresh cruciferous greens. If this sounds odd to you or disgusting even, take a look at that sweet potato casserole or the Brussels sprouts that sneak onto your table this Thanksgiving and maybe you’ll change your mind.
Speaker 4 (05:10):
Ellen Scanlon (05:11):
Creativity in the kitchen is often an added benefit of the munchies, and even though these cooking combinations have become a bit of a cliche, I don’t think they’re too different from what most of us would call Thanksgiving classics. I mean, ambrosia salad, Turduckens, pumpkin and Oreo cheesecakes. And isn’t making unique flavor combinations and trying new foods, something to be proud of? But before we get too much further into that, I think it’s time to get a better understanding of what exactly causes the munchies. To the laboratory.
So what causes an increase of appetite after, for example, smoking a joint? If you’ve been listening to this show for a while, you may have guessed that this has something to do with the endocannabinoid system or the ECS, and it does. The ECS helps our body regulate itself and maintain homeostasis or balance. A study conducted in 2014 found that cannabinoids bond with the brain’s CB1 receptors. These receptors are located in the olfactory bulb of the brain or the part that controls smell.
When cannabinoids bond with these receptors, it heightens the sense of smell and ultimately makes food literally taste better. And who doesn’t want to eat food that tastes better? And it even goes beyond that, Cannabis also helps your brain release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that aids your body in experiencing pleasure. The added release of dopamine after you’ve consumed cannabis makes eating a more rewarding activity, or very simply, it makes eating feel better.
So yes, you heard correctly, cannabis causes the munchies by making food literally taste and feel better to eat. I know, it’s pretty remarkable. But what about the added hunger that you may have heard about? There’s research that suggests that cannabis stimulates the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Ghrelin is present in both men and women, though women typically have more of the hunger hormone than men, but this is where it gets interesting.
You may remember hearing that cannabis can affect women more than men. We talked a bit about that in our Weed Words episode on paranoia. And as a quick refresher, estrogen can lower your tolerance to cannabis and increase women’s sensitivity to THC by almost 30% depending on the time of the month. But according to research from Columbia University Medical Center, the munchies are one of the few side effects that actually affect men more than women.
And although this has been confirmed in other studies, the exact reasons why men are more likely to have increased appetite is still unclear. So don’t be alarmed if you see your male counterparts clear out the fridge after consuming cannabis and you still haven’t gotten through your dinner. Remember, that cannabis affects each of us differently, and shouldn’t everyone be allowed to snack at their own speed?
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Cannabis’s ability to stimulate appetite has also been incredibly beneficial for those with underlying health conditions. It’s been proven to be really effective for those undergoing chemotherapy or those with HIV. There’s an amazing woman in cannabis history nicknamed Brownie Mary, who really championed the mainstream acceptance of the medical benefits of cannabis by bringing it into the spotlight during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
I talked about her a little during one of our Cooking with Cannabis episodes, and here’s a clip. In the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, a woman named Mary Rathbun started baking pot brownies for patients in San Francisco. She soon became known as Brownie Mary and became internationally famous when the police arrested her multiple times for helping dying patients. A few years ago, I went to an event at UC Berkeley with a pioneering AIDS doctor who worked with Brownie Mary, and that’s where I first heard about her.
The doctor told a story of being at a conference in Europe and seeing her arrest on all the TVs at the airport on his way home. He called it a watershed moment for cannabis and the start of it being accepted as a plant with medical value. You can hear more about Brownie Mary and Cooking with Cannabis on episode 71. The advocacy of Brownie Mary and other early cannabis pioneers truly revolutionized the way that cannabis was viewed by mainstream America.
And today, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of cannabis for people undergoing chemotherapy. The nausea and appetite suppression that can come with chemo leaves many people unable to stomach their food. So this positive munchie effect causing food to taste and smell better has helped patients across the world. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the munchies have been one of cannabis largest advocates for its legalization.
But even if your aversion to food is less medical and more along the lines of a dry Turkey avoidance tactic, a little cannabis might make your Thanksgiving meal that much better. Remember, the munchies are one of the most widely enjoyed effects of weed. But like most things in cannabis, the munchies really affect each person differently. Some can’t stop eating, others try something a bit unconventional in the kitchen, like putting horse radish and cranberries together in a Turkey sauce and others just whip up a standard PB and J and have never been happier.
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That’s drinkcann.com and have a happy holiday without the hangover. Let’s hit the high five of the munchies and go through all you need to know. Number one, weight gain. Yes, the munchies may encourage snack attacks, but they don’t necessarily lead to long-term weight gain. A study conducted at the University of Indiana showed that over a three-year period, cannabis consumers had less of an increase in their body mass index or BMI than non-cannabis consumers.
So even though the THC in cannabis has proven to make things smell better and improve the pleasure of eating, it doesn’t necessarily contribute to weight gain. Number two, growing out of it. People can quote, “Outgrow the munchies” because they seem to be a dose dependent side effect. Once you’re more comfortable with the dose that’s right for you, you’ll still maintain the increased pleasure of smell and taste, but you’ll be more accustomed to these feelings and maybe better able to cater to your heightened senses.
I know a fair number of people who would be willing to sign up for a study on this, but for now, there isn’t much data. So that brings us to number three, munchie management. Since consuming cannabis may stimulate your appetite, a fun treat can be having dinner ready or nearly ready before smoking a joint, for example. That way you can enjoy a beautiful meal and can mitigate a lot of snacking. And consuming cannabis before you cook could spice things up in the kitchen and make kind of a regular dinner extra fun.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for tackling your great grandma’s stuffing recipe for the first time, but it is a way to play around with an otherwise standard meal and experience these heightened senses. If you’re thinking of trying new foods or spending the day slow cooking or just can’t stand to make the same old three things, again, consider bringing cannabis into your kitchen. Number four, CBD. Unlike cannabis that contains THC, CBD doesn’t affect your appetite.
This Thanksgiving if you’re looking to curb some of that familial anxiety, CBD might be the product to try. And I love CBD gel caps from women-owned equilibrium. Or you can try a CBD oil tincture from your local dispensary. But let’s say you offer some of your CBD to your uncle who hasn’t tried weed since the sixties, because the effect of the munchies is so ingrained in society’s cliches around cannabis, some people re-experimenting have an added placebo effect of the munchies.
Basically, they might use it as an excuse to snack or to go for that extra piece of pie. And let them, there’s no need to spoil the fun. But if it’s something that you’re worried about, know that CBD does not stimulate appetite even if your uncle seems to be eating like a college kid again. Number five, celebrate. It is okay if cannabis makes you want to crunch and munch everything in sight.
The increased taste and smell sensations should be celebrated with decadent desserts or salty snacks or whatever you love the most. And cannabis can be a wonderful celebration, a true way to treat yourself and a great excuse to eat what you want, even if that’s an anchovy Turkey stuffing. People say everything in moderation and the munchies are no exception. So have fun with it.
My husband and I had a very small city hall wedding and my mom gifted us a really beautiful wedding cake. I don’t have a big sweet tooth, but my newlywed husband insisted that we take it with us on our weekend away after the wedding. I remember one night we smoked a joint and drank some very fancy whiskey and ate this decadent wedding cake, and the combination of the taste of the whiskey with the frosting was so smooth and silky and absolutely divine.
We still talk about it to this day because it was that enjoyable. So thank you San Francisco based SusieCakes. I want to encourage you to celebrate with cannabis and enjoy the wonderful experience of increased taste and smell and a heightened appetite this holiday. Whether that’s at the table with your dad’s famous deep-fried Turkey legs or at home with your own private bowl of health squares, there’s no wrong way to enjoy the munchies.
Two of How to Do the Pot’s essential strains for women are also known to bring on the munchies, OG Kush and Sour Diesel. Check out episodes 155 and 159 for more about those two very popular strains. And I’ll link to it in the show notes. For lots more information and past episodes, visit dothepot.com, and that’s also where you can sign up for our newsletter. For sneak peeks behind the scenes, please follow us on socials at Do the Pot.
And if you like How to Do the Pot, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. It really helps more people find the show. Thanks to our producers, Maddie Fair and Nick Patri and our writer Meliá Grasska. I’m Ellen Scanlon and we’ll be back soon with more of How to Do the Pot.
Are you trying to drink less alcohol this holiday season? I love CANN, a low dose cannabis infused social tonic as a fun alcohol alternative. And How to Do the Pot listeners get 30% off your first starter pack. Use the code DOTHEPOT when you visit drinkcann.com. That’s drinkcann.com. In more than 40 states, you can have these party ready sparkling beverages delivered right to your door.
So you must be legal, too. Age 21+ invited to continue.