Weed Words

Thanksgiving Special: Digging Into The Munchies

Episode 164

Show Notes

Thanksgiving Tastes Better With Weed

The best food day of the year is here, and in the spirit of stuffing our faces with stuffing and diving head-first into homemade pumpkin pie, we’re digging into everyone’s favorite cannabis phenomenon: THE MUNCHIES. If you’re planning on lighting up before chowing down, press play to hear our tips for enjoying a heightened appetite and increased taste and smell this Thanksgiving.

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Podcast Guests



Ellen Scanlon:

This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over.

Welcome to How to Do The Pot, a podcast demystifying Cannabis for women. I’m 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 serial snacking side effect of cannabis consumption, and I do mean serial as infrequent, not as in Lucky Charms, but those very well may be a part of it. My personal favorite munchy is Frosted Mini Wheats, and they’ve become very interesting to my three year old 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:

I make pickle plates. I pickle everything that you can imagine. 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 alright in the world.

Ellen Scanlon:

Now, before we make all of our stomach scramble 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:

Would you like fries with that?

Ellen Scanlon:

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 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 brussel sprouts that sneak onto your table this Thanksgiving and maybe you’ll change your mind.

Speaker 4:

Dinner’s ready.

Ellen Scanlon:

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 all factory 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 Word’s 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?

This probably won’t come as much of a surprise, but we are big podcast fans, so much so that we started How to Do the Pots Podcast Club, where we share our new podcast finds that we think you’ll like too. If you’d like to put a podcast on our radar, please reach out to hi@dothepot, or you can DM us at Do the Pot.

Have you taken my suggestions from earlier shows to try some OG Kush and maybe add a little popcorn when you really want to relax on the couch and find the perfect thing to watch? I get very, very overwhelmed by so many options on so many different streaming services, and I can never remember the show that everyone says is so amazing. And then I usually just give up and go to bed before I find something to watch.

We all need help finding the perfect TV show. That’s why I’m so glad that I have found TV, I say with Ashley Ray. Ashley is the Internet’s leading TV pop culture expert. She writes for Vulture, and Variety, and Emmy magazine, so you know can trust her to be your funny TV guide. And she has recommendations, reviews on shows that everyone’s talking about, and the best moments in TV history. She brings on comedians, actors, TV writers, and more for conversations that make you feel like you’re hanging out with your friends.

There’s a great episode where she talks with the other amazing podcast Great Moments in Weed History about great weed moments in TV history. They talk about South Park, Insecure, Freaks and Geeks, High Maintenance, all of the good weed shows. Another great episode was an interview with an intimacy coordinator who has worked on shows like Bridgeton to make sure that sex scenes are safe and friendly for everyone on set. Each episode is fun and packed with insider knowledge. And if you think you’re TV obsessed, wait until you hear Ashley. It’s her job to be on top of everything that is TV. And her enthusiasm for it has finally helped me to sit down and watch something. Listen to TV, I say wherever you get your podcasts, and if you have a good TV show suggestion for me, you can tweet at me @ellenleescanlon.

Cannabis stability 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 nickname Brownie Mary, who really champion 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 Rathon started baking pop 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 munchy 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 version 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. 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 “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, munchy 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 consume a cannabis before you cook could spice things up in the kitchen and make 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. Stay tuned to our episodes in the next few weeks when we’ll be talking all about food and weed.

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 equilibria, 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 weeds since the ’60s. 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 decorated 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 newly weed 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 Susie Cakes.

And I want to encourage you to celebrate with cannabis and enjoy the wonderful experience of increased taste and smell, and heighten 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 Pots 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, Madi Fair and Nick Patri, and our writer Melia Grasska. I’m Ellen Scanlon, and we’ll be back soon with more of How To Do the Pot.



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