Wouldn’t it be nice if a product that you use for your medical or recreational use also helped keep you slim? Let’s take a look at the research that says cannabis helps in managing your physiology, weight, and medical conditions. We’ll also look at some ways marijuana works indirectly, like helping you get better sleep, which is also associated with lower BMI.
Lowering Your BMI
In a 2016 study, published in Obesity, a respected research journal, scientists found that marijuana use was associated with a lower Body Mass Index (BMI). Their study is titled, “Cannabis use in relation to obesity and insulin resistance in the Inuit population.”
Lead author Gerard Ngueta and colleagues had a unique opportunity to mine the data from as far back as 2004. This data set on 786 Inuits, an indigenous or aboriginal people of North America, was chosen due to their departure from the norm. Indigenous tribes, like the Inuits, have a high rate of obesity, high tobacco-smoking rates, and a high prevalence of sedentary lifestyle. However, the Inuits had a low incidence of type 2 diabetes that was comparable to the rest of the Canadian population.
The scientists were puzzled by this. They noted that the Inuits had a high rate of cannabis use and theorized that there might be a connection. The study began with the intention, “ascertain the association of cannabis use with obesity, insulin resistance, and inflammatory markers.” The Université Laval and Quebec Public Health research ethics committee approved the analysis of the 786 who were Inuit, not pregnant, and who had provided comprehensive information on their cannabis use.
Cannabis use was analyzed according to frequency in the last year and other drug use was also analyzed. Blood samples were taken and various scientific assays were conducted with fancy names like hexokinase enzymatic assay and double-antibody radioimmunoassay.
Insulin resistance was of interest and after all the research and taking samples, the scientists analyzed the results. They took into account a bunch a factors that might skew the results like gender, tobacco-smoking status, age, and occupation and statistically adjusted for those variables so that the results would come out clear.
They found that using cannabis in the previous year was associated with lower fat percentage, lower BMI, and lower fasting insulin. However, when adjustments were made for variables, these associations were found “statistically nonsignificant.” What this phrase means in the research community is, we found something, but it’s small and you guys will laugh at us if we say it’s important.
What they did find “highly significant” was that insulin management was better in the cannabis users and half the people who were supposed to be obese, according to the profile, were not – and scientists attribute that to cannabis use in the past year. Therefore, the study shows small positive benefits in several markers and large benefits in BMI and obesity.
The American Journal of Medicine
In 2013, lead authors Elizabeth A. Penner, MD, MPH, published the results of a study on cannabis in The American Journal of Medicine. Their study was titled, “The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults.” She stated that her study found a “statistically significant” association with marijuana use and insulin levels and waist circumference – of interest to patients and regular people, and the HOMA-IR and HDL-C levels – of interest to the medical types.
Fellow authors caution that while this and previous studies have found associations with cannabis use and improved insulin management, decreased BMI, weight, and waist circumference, they still don’t know how it works. They also say that the research subjects have self-reported their cannabis usage so there’s a plus or minus factor there in quality empirical evidence. Also, some participants may not have reported illicit drug use or overestimated/underestimated other variables.
Keeping Slim with Mary Jane
While the scientists are trying to figure out why people who smoke cannabis have less incidence of type 2 diabetes, manage insulin levels better, weigh less, and are smaller – maybe the answer is a lot simpler than this molecule is not talking to that molecule and that metabolic pathway is closed for construction.
Maybe it’s as simple as weed helps you get to sleep and stay asleep. Weed is a psychoactive drug with sedative effects, especially in the Indica varieties. Sure Mary Jane can give you the munchies sometimes but she’s a great companion to fall asleep with and so many good things happen when you’re asleep.
When you sleep, it’s like a Reset button. Your body delivers a hormone cocktail full of rejuvenating factors like Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Your hunger and fullness hormones, ghrelin and leptin reset themselves. A poor night’s sleep can upset your appetite for days and cause you to make poor food choices. The medical community has published many associations with sleep and good health, and a multitude of illnesses if sleep is poor.
However, like the rest of cannabis science, the effects of cannabis on sleep are not well researched in the traditional medical community because the plant has been banned. Now that strains are developing with different profiles, studies need to be conducted that compare Sativas to Indicas for sleeping aids, for instance.
At least two studies in the past few years have found that cannabis has a significant effect on the physiological factors associated with a lower body mass and smaller waist circumference. Cannabis has a positive impact on insulin and insulin resistance, leaving pot smokers with a more efficient, healthier, and better looking body. So go to sleep with Mary Jane tonight and next month, get a smaller pair of jeans.