What happens when worms use weed? Turns out, they get the munchies. University of Oregon neuroscientists soaked tiny nematode worms in liquid infused with cannabinoids, the active substances in the cannabis plant. Then they placed the worms in a maze containing various kinds of food and measured their swallowing rate. From CNN:
It turned out the worms did respond, and cannabinoids made them hungrier for their favored foods and less hungry for their non-favored food. The research ultimately revealed that the worms, like humans, engage in hedonic feeding — a phenomenon more commonly known as the munchies.
"The very fact of hedonic feeding in nematodes was surprising. The munchies in a worm. Really?" said Shawn Lockery, a professor at the Institute of Neuroscience at the University of Oregon in Eugene and coauthor of a study that published Thursday in the scientific journal Current Biology. Previously cannabinoids were only known to affect humans and other mammals — making them want to eat more and crave the tastiest, most high-calorie foods[…]
In humans and other animals, cannabinoids act by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, nervous system and other parts of the body, Lockery said. Those receptors normally respond to related molecules that are naturally present in the body, known as endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system plays important roles in eating, anxiety, learning and memory, reproduction and metabolism. At the molecular level, the cannabinoid system in these worms looks a lot like that in people and other animals.