A new study in Current Biology indicates that cannabinoids hold potential for helping treat a variety of conditions, including depression and anxiety. For that reason, it is important to study their effect on various living beings which will help us better understand their potential benefit for humans in the future. The scientists at the University of Oregon in Eugene, who authored the study, demonstrate that what humans experience when they consume cannabinoids can be replicated in other living beings, in this case worms. This finding, and related conclusions, could open the door for further scientific exploration to help us understand the therapeutic values of cannabinoids, including how they encourage overeating certain foods, commonly known as “the munchies.”
The article shows that well-studied nematode worms (C. elegans) react to the chemicals known as cannabinoids in precisely the same way as humans do. As the authors state, cannabinoids make both humans and worms hungrier for their favored foods and less hungry for their non-favored foods. This new study concludes that the sensitivity of one of the main parts of the brain that detects smell is changed significantly by cannabinoids. Most importantly it becomes more aware of – and attracted to – the odors of foods that it likes and develops an avoidance to the odors of foods it dislikes. So, in both humans and worms, we are seeing the same dynamic when it comes to adaptations in food consumption.
As the authors state, we know that the endocannabinoid system plays important roles in eating, anxiety, learning and memory, reproduction, metabolism, and more. Therefore, the significance of their research is significant.