Cannabis gives the munchies to men more than women. We explain the science of cannabinoids, estrogen and appetite in this infographic!

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In a previous infographic, I showed how men and women react differently to cannabis. One aspect is that men get the munchies way more.

How Cannabinoids Regulate Appetite

Cannabinoids have long been known to affect hunger. Many cells in the hypothalamus (the main part of your brain that controls eating) express the cannabinoid CB1 receptor.

So how exactly do cannabinoids regulate hunger? Activation of the CB1 receptors (by THC, for example) stops a key neurotransmitter, glutamate, from activating the POMC neurons. These POMC neurons stop you from feeling hungry.

What happens when you deactivate the cells that stop you from feeling hungry? You guessed it…the munchies.

Why Women Don’t Get Munchies (As Much)

So why don’t women get munchies as bad? Well women have higher levels than men of a class of hormones called estrogens. The receptors for estrogens are also in the parts of the brain that control hunger.

When the estrogen receptors are activated, they stop the cannabinoid CB1 receptor from having their full effect. So the CB1 receptors become like a broken button….you can press it all you want, but it’s not going to do much.

Endocannabinoids Control Appetite In Menstrual Cycle

Interestingly, this also is the reason that women’s appetite fluctuates throughout the month. When estradiol (one of the main estrogen hormones) is at it’s peak pre-ovulation, this is when eating is at it’s lowest.

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This can be explained by the same mechanism as above. There is normally a certain level of endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by your own body) in your hypothalamus that activate the CB1 receptor.

When estradiol levels are high, it turns off the CB1 receptors in the eating control centers of your hypothalamus. You feel less hungry and eat less. This is also the time that you are least able to get the munchies from cannabis.

Sensitivity to the munchies will increase again once estradiol levels drop later in the month, so keep that pint of Ben and Jerry’s ready!

[Featured image: Flickr/Pan Pacific]

Last modified: April 23, 2017

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