A study published Thursday found that nematode worms under the influence of cannabis preferred high-calorie foods – behavior similar to humans when they get the munchies after consuming cannabis, according to a Washington Post report.
Shawn Lockery, a University of Oregon Institute of Neuroscience professor, and one of the study’s authors, told the Post the study “helps us place ourselves in the universe of animals in a new way by reinforcing the commonality between humans, with this massive and marvelous brain, and a tiny little microscopic worm.”
“This is the first time that the munchies has been demonstrated in an invertebrate organism. So this is a big step from what we currently believe to be the sort of limit of the munchies.” — Lockery to the Post
For the study, researchers poured a cannabinoid called anandamide onto about 50 of the nematode worms, which were then transferred to a T-shaped maze. The researchers placed high-calorie food on one side and low-calorie food on the other.
While the worms usually prefer calorie-dense foods, they ate them at a higher quantity after being exposed to the cannabinoid, and they avoided low-calorie foods more than usual. In follow-up experiments, researchers found that anandamide sparks neurons to become more sensitive to the odors of high-calorie foods.
Lockery added that the study was scheduled to publish last month but Current Biology delayed it until 4/20 – the unofficial holiday celebrating cannabis.
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