Marijuana: The Next Diabetes Drug?

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

Toking up may help marijuana users to stay slim and lower their risk of developing diabetes, according to the latest study, which suggests that cannabis compounds may help in controlling blood sugar.

Although marijuana has a well-deserved reputation for increasing appetite via what stoners call “the munchies,” the new research, which was published in the American Journal of Medicine, is not the first to find that the drug has a two-faced relationship to weight. Three prior studies have shown that marijuana users are less likely to be obese, have a lower risk for diabetes and have lower body-mass-index measurements. And these trends occurred despite the fact that they seemed to take in more calories.

Why? “The most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers,” says Murray Mittleman, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study. “Their fasting insulin levels were lower, and they appeared to be less resistant to the insulin produced by their body to maintain a normal blood-sugar level.”

The research included over 4,600 men and women participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2010. Among them, 48% had smoked marijuana at least once in their lives, and 12% were current cannabis smokers. The authors controlled for other factors like age, sex, income, alcohol use, cigarette smoking and physical activity that could also affect diabetes risk.

Even after these adjustments, the current marijuana users showed fasting insulin levels that were 16% lower than those of former or never users, along with a 17% reduction in another measure of insulin resistance as well. Higher levels on both tests are associated with Type 2 diabetes, which is linked with obesity. Marijuana users also had higher levels of high-density lipoprotein, the so-called good cholesterol, which can protect against heart disease. And the regular smokers also boasted smaller waistlines: on average, they were 1.5 in. (3.8 cm) slimmer than the former users and those who had never smoked cannabis.

Researchers don’t yet know how to explain these correlations — and since the study was not a controlled trial, it’s not clear whether marijuana or some other factor in marijuana users’ lifestyles actually accounted for the beneficial effects. Studies showed, however, that the cannabinoid brain receptors affected by marijuana are deeply involved in appetite and metabolism. But the exact details of how the compound alters the relationship between appetite, caloric intake and insulin response isn’t obvious yet.

One clue, however, may lie in the effects of a diet drug that was developed to have the opposite effect that marijuana has on the brain. That drug, rimonabant, produced significant weight loss and a drop in fasting insulin levels by affecting certain cannabinoid receptors in the exact opposite way that THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient, does. This action is complex: rimonabant doesn’t simply block the receptor and keep the natural cannabinoids from activating it. Instead, while the natural cannabinoids elevate the normal level of activity already going on in the system, rimonabant lowers it so the result is precisely the reverse of activating the receptor naturally. However, because of psychiatric side effects like increasing suicide risk, rimonabant was pulled from the European market and never approved in the U.S.

(MORE: Reverse Engineering the Marijuana ‘Munchies’: What Causes Binge Eating?)

How could both marijuana and a compound that has the opposite effect of pot act on the same brain receptors and lead to weight loss? Natural marijuana includes many different potentially active compounds, and one of them — rather than THC — could be responsible for this effect. One potential candidate is a substance called cannabidiol, which also affects cannabinoid receptors, but in a different way from the way THC or rimonabant does.

Another possibility involves tolerance: repeated use of a drug can make receptors less sensitive over time. “The most likely explanation is that prolonged cannabis use causes the [receptors] to lose sensitivity and become inactive,” says Daniele Piomelli, a professor of pharmacology at the University of California, Irvine, who was not associated with the new research. “This has been shown to happen in people who smoke marijuana. This weakening of [these receptors] translates into a lower risk for obesity and diabetes because the inactive receptor would be unable to respond to our own cannabis-like molecules, which we know are important in keeping us chubby.” While marijuana may initially promote appetite and overeating, in the long run it has the opposite effect because it desensitizes cannabinoid receptors and may even protect against obesity.

So don’t skip the gym and break out the bong just yet: there’s still not enough data to tell whether marijuana, like alcohol, could have health benefits in moderation. Mittleman says the study relied on self-reported use of marijuana, which can be unreliable. However, he points out that since people are more likely to hide drug use than they are to falsely claim it, the findings could even underestimate marijuana’s effects.

(MORE: Marijuana Slims? Why Pot Smokers Are Less Obese)

But whether that’s true, and whether marijuana might be a window into understanding how to best control glucose and insulin to prevent diabetes, isn’t known yet. “It is much too early to say,” says Mittleman, “We need much more research to better understand the biologic responses to marijuana use. We really need more research to allow physicians and patients to make decisions based on solid evidence.” An editorial that accompanied the study also urged government action to reduce barriers to such research.

Even with 18 states now approving marijuana for medical uses, the politics of pot will always overshadow research efforts to understand how cannabinoids work in the brain — or affect disease. But, as Piomelli says, “the [new] study suggests that smoking marijuana [may] protect people against obesity and diabetes.” And following up on that finding could yield new insights into how to tackle one of our biggest public-health issues.

4549 comments
pithemingway
pithemingway

Make an effort to verify this specific Recommended reading due to the fact we have been supplying the most effective details concerning athletics.

brightfuture
brightfuture

Excellent information on your blog, thank you for taking the time to share with us. Amazing insight you have on this, it's nice to find a website that details so much information about different artists.Card Terminal Edinburgh

brightfuture
brightfuture

I don't know what has happened to the custom of delivering consistent good articles. I hope that the custom comes alive after this..thumbs up for your work.loft plan reviews

brightfuture
brightfuture

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics.loft plan

brightfuture
brightfuture

I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definately enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!!!!see more

brightfuture
brightfuture


We offer a wide range of services including conservatory roof conversions, Re-builds and Insulation in the Belfast area.


Roof Repairs Belfast

brightfuture
brightfuture

Your blog provided us with valuable to work with. Each & every tips of your post are awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging.. BLOG COMMENTS

brightfuture
brightfuture

Hello ! I just wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice info you’ve got right here on this post. I will probably be coming back to your weblog for more soon what to text your ex girlfriend to get her back. payday loans online

brightfuture
brightfuture

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.

find a funeral florist

brightfuture
brightfuture

I just got to this amazing site not long ago. I was actually captured with the piece of resources you have got here. Big thumbs up for making such wonderful blog page!

cheap Star Citizen credits

brightfuture
brightfuture

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.www.dampfer-ecke.de

marthillery
marthillery

When you are dealing with one click Cash, the first thing that you need to know is the requirements needed.

brightfuture
brightfuture

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up!London Drivers

brightfuture
brightfuture

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.

London Drivers

brightfuture
brightfuture

Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has importaciones your hard work and experience you have got in This field. Brilliant reading .I love it.London Drivers

brightfuture
brightfuture

Thanks a lot very much for the high quality and results-oriented help. I won’t think twice to endorse your blog post to anybody who wants and needs support about this area.

Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has importaciones your hard work and experience you have got in This field. Brilliant reading .I love it.

brightfuture
brightfuture

Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article.

Click here

brightfuture
brightfuture

Moving Laval

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up.

patstarkes123
patstarkes123

Diabetes is on a rampage.More and more people are developing diabetes in astronomical proportions (directly related to obesity).Manage your diabetes and reduce the risk of complications.

Diabetes in a nutshell:

http://www.diabetestech.info

brightfuture
brightfuture

I must say that a succesful family owned business in this day and age is a very refreshing sight ! As well as this is a very refreshing site.crowdfunding promotion

brightfuture
brightfuture

I really liked the font you've chose to use in this article. Could I please get the name of that font? I wanted to use it in my project now. Thanks very much!

Juice Diet

brightfuture
brightfuture

Thanks for giving me this information. Keep posting. Ready to escape insomnia’s vicious cir­cle and reboot your brain for sound sleep.Loft conversions London

brightfuture
brightfuture

I must say that a succesful family owned business in this day and age is a very refreshing sight ! As well as this is a very refreshing site.

 Loft conversions Fulham

anuyadavy603
anuyadavy603

Thanks for sharing such a great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. 


http://voyance-amour-eternel.com/

VeniceRealDeal
VeniceRealDeal

Some countries are just more advanced than ours in this kind of research. I just can't understand if governments are protecting us or the big dealers... It will always be a mistery for me and for many.


I will just keep going and help the society I live in by doing my service at my best 

http://venicerealdeal.com

brightfuture
brightfuture

This content is written very well. Your use of formatting when making your points makes your observations very clear and easy to understand. Thank you!van hire london

AhsanAzam
AhsanAzam

I don't know what has happened to the custom of delivering consistent good articles. I hope that the custom comes alive after this..thumbs up for your work.    $788 in one week

brightfuture
brightfuture

I must say that a succesful family owned business in this day and age is a very refreshing sight ! As well as this is a very refreshing site.

bentley dealerships

brightfuture
brightfuture

I discovered your site ideal for me. It consists of wonderful and useful posts. I've read many of them and also got so much from them. In my experience, you do the truly amazing.Trulyi'm impressed out of this publish.Martial arts Canal Winchester Ohio

brightfuture
brightfuture

This web site is really a walk-through for all of the info you wanted about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse here, and you’ll definitely discover it.

plumber louisville ky

brightfuture
brightfuture

I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site.

mua túi xách nam

brightfuture
brightfuture

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soonloft plan reviews