Marijuana: The Next Diabetes Drug?

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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.

208 comments
MohammadZeeshan
MohammadZeeshan

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AbdulQadirKhatri
AbdulQadirKhatri

The first several months of my site there were no comments; just give it time; now they come in like crazy every day! Thanks. health

GailBlack
GailBlack

Thank you so much for this article. I'm an Hemp Advocate and deeply involved in getting the news out about research on Hemp. Hemp seems to be a 'cure all' for so many diseases. Great work. Keep it up. I have a blog on Facebook titled: Gail Black's Hemp Tales, where i gather and post as much about Hemp as possible. Strangely I don't get very many responses from FB friends....all who know people with disease or have diseases themselves which Hemp would help. Probably has to do with the bad reputation which has saturated the public. Not surprising. Hopefully people will get beyond their lack of knowledge and learn about the incredible benefit Hemp has to offer our world!

AbdulQadirKhatri
AbdulQadirKhatri

I like your post. It is good to see you verbalize from the heart and clarity on this important subject can be easily observed.
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MProvince
MProvince

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, Type 2 is a metabolic condition. I do wish these writers would once and for all differentiate between Type 1 and Type 2 instead of lumping us all in together. Please. 

TestLabAmsterdam
TestLabAmsterdam

Thank you very much for this article and information. We do many tests also at TestLab Amsterdam on cannabinoids and the effects. This Powerplant is about to revolutionalize medications. I have shared this article on our facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/TestLabAmsterdam.nl  ...Thanks !

HempShare
HempShare

Next? Only for the lemmings. 

GaryRoberts1
GaryRoberts1

Hi. Im 61 yrs old, been smoking pot for 45 yrs  Its what made me obese and end up with diabetes. How can pot possibly cure diabetes? Pot has always been known the cause the munchies.And not for healthy food.

ChristinaMarieChapman
ChristinaMarieChapman

Interesting. Here's an alternative explanation: marijuana reduces stress, which reduces stress hormones. Stress hormones, over time, can destroy your insulin levels and put you at risk for diabetes. Stress hormones also cause overeating, by stimulating the body to be more hungry and store more energy as fat. Stress is vastly underestimated in its effect on the body and weight.

erinendurance
erinendurance

I went from 225 to 165 in the past year after smoking pot regularly. My spelling and grammar have also improved significantly.

FelixNieves
FelixNieves

Marijuana users (Not including any other drugs, just marijuana.)  B.S. Because after you smoke a joint or part of it your appetite opens and your desire for food is incessant.  Drug addicts is something different they don't care about food only illegal drugs.

Bayu Morita
Bayu Morita

Btw the Republic of Indonesian minister that support Marijuana as medicine his name is MR Dahlan Iskan, so please give him financial support for the whole world : ) cure

Dwayne Leon
Dwayne Leon

Pacify who you wish, advocate for weakness, but you can not touch those who are seperated for Christ... my message to the propositioner...

Tyler J. Altemose
Tyler J. Altemose

Y'know, Didem, you really have zero excuse for not understanding that the comment above was sarcasm.

Vinh Xuan Huynh
Vinh Xuan Huynh

It may be ......... But don't belive everything read and don't belive everything you see. Everything is/has ying and yang .....

Blas Juan
Blas Juan

Como ven,,, que la mariguana es buen auxiliar para controlar el azúcar en sangre,estos investigadores se apellidan Pacheco????

Nora Dao Salcedo
Nora Dao Salcedo

Some info. sugar free, regular hard and chewy candies with different flavors of marijuana. There are some state here in USA that legalize the use of this natural medicine Prescriptions medicines that prescribed from doctor's are could DRUGS it is a chemicals. Marijuana is an herbs gift from God to those who are suffering for the .chronic and severe pain even for cancers. I get this informations to Googled. I am very skeptical but if it could help for my family without causing any side effects why not try.

Didem Aydogan
Didem Aydogan

what about the effects on Obese people when they eat and eat Mc Donalds ,I dont smoke for me danger of fast food is same as weed !

Didem Aydogan
Didem Aydogan

Tyler J. Altemose , they promote more awful stuff like Red Bull,Alchol,Fast Food why not Weed .It is not saying use weed and forget diabetes.Read mate the article before you make a common sense

Jill Felton Amoroso
Jill Felton Amoroso

you only do terrible things,if its already in your nature....God planted it for a reason...I personally believe it is a cure all

Anne Simmons Phd
Anne Simmons Phd

Interesting that the "munches" don't cancel out the benefits of lowered blood sugar.

Crystal Clifford
Crystal Clifford

My BF is severely diabetic at a young age and is thin, he suffers from hyperglycemia and severe nuropathy so when It comes to the nerve pain I could see it working but when the munchies kick in I could really see a person falling into the trap of bad cravings and not being responsible in the diet area. If they could make a version that shuts down the hunger aspect and solely treat pain that would be great.

aBigPurpleDiamond
aBigPurpleDiamond

@GaryRoberts1If you would like it to cure your diabetes you need to make the cannabis essential oil out of it instead of smoking it. The basic instructions, take an ounce or more of cannabis, buds are good AND the water leaves are fine to use. Dry, crush them to very small pieces but not like a powder more like dried onion size. Get a gallon of everclear or some other 151 proof or better, pour it to cover the crushed leafs & flowers. Stir it around for a minute or two, pour the alcohol into a dish, take the plant matter & pour FRESH alcohol over it & stir pour that alcohol with the others & do it once more. Squeeze out all the alcohol & toss the plant matter in the garbage. Pour the alcohol threw a coffee filter, then take your STAINLESS STEEL inside rice cooker, the alcohol & a fan & go on your back porch & pour in the alcohol & boil it all off, adding the cannabis alcohol as it boils off. Do NOT go over 175 degrees!! (Weigh your bowl inside the rice cooker before you start & write it down, weigh it again after you complete boiling off the alcohol so you know how much you made) DO NOT SMOKE NO OPEN FLAME THE ALCOHOL VAPORS WILL IGNITE & CAN BURN YOU UP OR YOUR HOUSE!! Set the fan to blow directly at the rice cooker to blow fumes AWAY from the house & your face!! When you get to the bottom it will be runny but will become REAL thick as it cools, take the remainder & put in a 1/8 teaspoon of water to help release the last of the alcohol. Then set it on a coffee pot/cup warmer & let it sit on the hot warmer for 5 hours or so till all the alcohol is gone. The warmer you can do in the house cause it's not much alcohol now. When it's done use a little metal poker & pull out a tiny amount the size of a half a grain of white long rice. Put a tiny amount of oil on your two fingers, Roll it in a little ball it will be like tar & sticky & have water ready to wash it down. Tastes HORRIBLE!! Don't squish it. you just keep rolling it around til you get it to drop off into your mouth. Do it EVERY night around 4 to 6 pm depending on when you go to bed. In a week to 10 days, double the amount do this every 7 to 10 days, til you get to the size of a large green pea. Then stay at that amount til the diabetes is gone. Once it's gone stay on a grain of rice size everyday forever. Go on you tube & enter diabetes & cannabis you'll find other people who have testimonies on there. You will see to go to a gram per day, & to double every 4 days no matter what.  I know that amount is not necessary. Those instructions are for cancer. Also the cannabis MUST be an INDICA not a Sativa !!! You may also get very sick a few times & the first night you take it you will sleep real late, some have been known to sleep 16 hours in the beginning. Feel free to message me. 

HempShare
HempShare

@GaryRoberts1 Here lies Gary Roberts: A victim of the "munchies" and lack of self-control around Funyuns. Gary you should have purchased stock on Doritos & Taco Bell for your retirement instead of Government bonds.

HempShare
HempShare

@FelixNieves

Cannabinoids trigger the Endogenous Cannabinoid Receptor System (ECRS). This system regulates & modulates ALL other bodily systems. IF under the influence of Cannabinoids (pot, cannabis) the body functions at a much higher state of alertness to "consumptive intake".

This can be in the form of gaseous, liquid or solids.

Gaseous being vapors (pot, spray paint, chemicals in the home) etc, liquid (alcohol, food, cannabis juice etc), solids (pharma synthetics, canna-butter, edibles etc).

Once the ECRS is triggered and attentive, the body is MUCH MORE EFFICIENT at consumptive intake.

The excessive cravings for "junk" that Gary Roberts is whining about up above are due to his body having been addicted to Ordinary food. Ordinary food has been changed to include an abundance of Sugar, Fat and Salt. These are intended to inflame the human body in a state similar to Tuberculosis. Add to this closed living spaces, and you have a "Consumer" with consumptivitis in a Consumption economy.

So that is pretty much the deal. EatHemp.org Eat Hemp Seed to clean out your body, then enjoy what it naturally craves once clean.

AustinIngram
AustinIngram

@Dwayne LeonHAHA AHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHA! I love it when people bring jesus and god into the situation. 

For so the Lord said unto me, "I will take my rest and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs. For afore harvest, when the bud is perfect and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks and take away and cut down the branches." (Isaiah 18:4-5)

aBigPurpleDiamond
aBigPurpleDiamond

@Nora Dao Salcedo I live in a medical state & have saw it cure people.

aBigPurpleDiamond
aBigPurpleDiamond

@Didem Aydogan Cannabis does NOT cause obesity. The truth is if you already eat junk food that is what you crave. If you already eat health food that is what you will crave. I can tell you from experience if you use it as an oil & eat it, you will lose weight, I have lost 45 pounds in 5 months of use so far. Look on youtube "cannabis & diabetes", "cannabis & cancer", etc.

MariaBinkyMann
MariaBinkyMann

@Didem Aydogan well let me tell you there are plenty of obese ppl who don't smoke weed and plenty of skinny weed heads so don't start on the crap... I have a friend that is super skinny and can eat like 4 big macs fries and a large drink....

aBigPurpleDiamond
aBigPurpleDiamond

@Crystal Clifford If you would like it to cure his diabetes you need to make the cannabis indica essential oil out of it instead of smoking it. Munchies don't always kick in, it depends on the strain. The basic instructions, take an ounce or more of cannabis, buds are good AND the water leaves are fine to use. Dry, crush them to very small pieces but not like a powder more like dried onion size. Get a gallon of everclear or some other 151 proof or better, pour it to cover the crushed leafs & flowers. Stir it around for a minute or two, pour the alcohol into a dish, take the plant matter & pour FRESH alcohol over it & stir pour that alcohol with the others & do it once more. Squeeze out all the alcohol & toss the plant matter in the garbage. Pour the alcohol threw a coffee filter, then take your STAINLESS STEEL inside rice cooker, the alcohol & a fan & go on your back porch & pour in the alcohol & boil it all off, adding the cannabis alcohol as it boils off. Do NOT go over 175 degrees!! (Weigh your bowl inside the rice cooker before you start & write it down, weigh it again after you complete boiling off the alcohol so you know how much you made) DO NOT SMOKE NO OPEN FLAME THE ALCOHOL VAPORS WILL IGNITE & CAN BURN YOU UP OR YOUR HOUSE!! Set the fan to blow directly at the rice cooker to blow fumes AWAY from the house & your face!! When you get to the bottom it will be runny but will become REAL thick as it cools, take the remainder & put in a 1/8 teaspoon of water to help release the last of the alcohol. Then set it on a coffee pot/cup warmer & let it sit on the hot warmer for 5 hours or so till all the alcohol is gone. The warmer you can do in the house cause it's not much alcohol now. When it's done use a little metal poker & pull out a tiny amount the size of a half a grain of white long rice. Put a tiny amount of oil on your two fingers, Roll it in a little ball it will be like tar & sticky & have water ready to wash it down. Tastes HORRIBLE!! Don't squish it. you just keep rolling it around til you get it to drop off into your mouth. Do it EVERY night around 4 to 6 pm depending on when you go to bed. In a week to 10 days, double the amount do this every 7 to 10 days, til you get to the size of a large green pea. Then stay at that amount til the diabetes is gone. Once it's gone stay on a grain of rice size everyday forever. Go on you tube & enter diabetes & cannabis you'll find other people who have testimonies on there. You will see to go to a gram per day, & to double every 4 days no matter what.  I know that amount is not necessary. Those instructions are for cancer. Also the cannabis MUST be an INDICA not a Sativa !!! You may also get very sick a few times & the first night you take it you will sleep real late, some have been known to sleep 16 hours in the beginning. Feel free to message me. 

GailBlack
GailBlack

@aBigPurpleDiamond @GaryRoberts1  Thank you so much for this post. It is so important that people know you don't have to smoke cannabis to heal themselves. Would really appreciate a more detailed step by step (1, 2,3 ) approach to your instruction, or, is their a site that gives this?