The same smell receptors in the brain that go abuzz when you—or, you know, a friend of a friend—smoke pot are activated by fasting, which is why both activities end in the munchies, a new study in the journal Nature Neuroscience suggests.
Researchers found that, by injecting mice with THC—the key ingredient in marijuana—they triggered activity in the same smell receptors that light up when our body misses a meal. This is because when you go without food your brain starts producing endocannibinoids, compounds very similar to THC, which give you the heightened olfactory senses that are your body’s way of triggering hunger in order to signal that it needs more nutrients.
Researchers hope the findings will help scientists develop drugs that interact with cannabinoid receptors to help people lose weight.
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