A new study published this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience has revealed why cannabis can act as an appetite stimulant.
A group of European scientists examined the standard smelling and eating patterns of mice, and compared them to patterns exhibited by mice given THC.
Both groups of mice were offered almond and banana oils; while the mice in the control group sniffed the oils and eventually lost interest, the group of mice who were administered THC just kept sniffing. When offered food, the mice who were given THC also ate substantially more than the control group.
Upon examining another group of mice that had been fasted 24 hours, the researchers found results similar to those seen in the mice given THC.
The scientists genetically engineered a group of mice without CB1 receptors in their olfactory bulb (the part of the brain responsible for sense of smell), and found that administering THC no longer had the same effect; the mice reacted to smells the same as the control group, and no longer exhibited an increased appetite.
Researchers determined that cannabinoid receptors located in the olfactory bulb were triggered by the THC, which acts as an imitation of the endocannabinoids naturally produced when experiencing hunger – thus, enhancing the sense of smell and increasing the appetite of the mice.
These results reveal why cannabis offers such an effective treatment for so many people suffering illness-induced appetite suppression, and indicates the strong potential for the plant’s use in wide-spread medical treatments.