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Marijuana has never been taken seriously by the physicians. But in what comes as a shot in the arm of people lobbying for legalization of marijuana consumption, researchers have found that it can help diabetics to have better control of their blood sugar.

It has been seen that marijuana users are thin compared to non marijuana users and numerous epidemiological studies done in the past have corroborated the fact that marijuana consumption is associated with lowered incidence of obesity and diabetes mellitus and a lower body mass index. However, no study had been carried out to find the effect of marijuana consumption on patients already suffering from diabetes mellitus. In a new study published in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers have found that marijuana consumption is also associated with a reduced level of fasting insulin and lowered risk of developing insulin resistance. This implies that it helps diabetic patients in controlling their blood sugar levels better.

For their study, the researchers recruited 4657 adult men and women between 2005 and 2010. These people were a part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. All the participants of the study were questioned on drug use and it was found that 579 of them were current marijuana users. It was also seen 1,975 of the participants had used marijuana formerly while 2,103 had never used the drug. The blood glucose levels and fasting insulin levels of all the participants were measured after a nine hour fasting period. The cholesterol levels and waist circumference was also measured. Researchers deployed the homeostasis model of assessing insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) to calculate the risk of insulin resistance among the participants of the study. Confounding factors like age, sex, history of alcohol consumption or cigarette smoking, level of physical exercise and the income of the participants were adjusted before noting down the results.

Regular use of marijuana associated with lower fasting insulin, lower insulin resistance, smaller waist circumference and higher levels of high density lipoprotein

The researchers observed that those participants who were current marijuana users, had lower levels of fasting insulin and a reduced risk of developing insulin resistance compared to participants who had used marijuana earlier or did not use it at all. The fasting levels of insulin were 16 percent lower in marijuana users compared to non marijuana users. Similarly, people using marijuana had 17 percent lower insulin resistance compared to people who gave up marijuana or those who had never used marijuana. As the association between marijuana use and fasting insulin levels was weaker in people who used marijuana earlier, the researchers concluded that the effect on insulin persists as long as the people are actively using marijuana. It was also seen that current marijuana users had smaller than average waist circumference. Current users of marijuana had an abdominal girth which was, on an average, 1.5 inches less than formers users or those who had never used marijuana. Regular use of marijuana was also associated with higher levels of high density lipoproteins, also known as the good cholesterol, which has a cardio-protective action.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • “The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults,” by Penner, E, Buettner, H, Mittleman M, et al, published on May 15, 2013 in the American Journal of Medicine, accessed on June 8, 2013
  • “Medical Marijuana May Lower Blood Sugar, Help Diabetics Control Disease,” by Christie Rizk, published on Amy 15, 2013 in, accessed on June 8, 2013
  • “Marijuana: The Next Diabetes Drug?” by Maia Szalavitz, published on May 21, 2013 in, accessed on June 8, 2013.
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