Worms get the munchies too when they are given weed, study finds

(Gray News) – Marijuana is known for giving people munchies and it appears it also has the same effect on worms.

According to a new study shared online by the journal Current Biology, nematode worms reacted to cannabis the same way most humans do.

“Cannabinoids make nematodes hungrier for their favored foods and less hungry for their non-favored foods,” said Shawn Lockery, of the University of Oregon. “Thus, the effects of cannabinoids in nematodes parallels the effects of marijuana on human appetites.”

The team said the tiny nematode worms are smaller than a human eyelash and they decided to soak the worms in cannabinoids, the active substances found in weed, for “a Friday afternoon experiment.”

According to Lockery, they were inspired in 2015 for the experiment when cannabis became legal in Oregon.

“At the time, our laboratory at the university was deeply involved in assessing nematode food preferences,” Lockery said. “And the paper is the result of many years of follow-up research.”

The team shared that their research ultimately revealed that the worms, like humans, engage in hedonic feeding, an occurrence more commonly known as the munchies.

“Nematodes diverged from the lineage leading to mammals more than 500 million years ago,” Lockery said. “It is truly remarkable that the effects of cannabinoids on appetite are preserved through this length of evolutionary time.”

The findings in worms are not only entertaining, according to Lockery. But they also have significant practical implications.

“Cannabinoid signaling is present in the majority of tissues in our body,” he said. “Therefore, it could be involved in the cause and treatment of a wide range of diseases.”

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