Cannabis And Your Metabolism

Medical Marijuana

A major cause of illness and death in our country is nutritional deficiency. We all know that lack of food makes us feel weak and tired with a loss of stamina and short term energy loss. And as cannabis consumers, we can also experience the same in between medication sessions throughout the course of a day. We also strive to ensure that those cultivating and producing cannabis products we purchase, do so in the safest manner, free from toxins and unwanted chemical pesticides. A new study this year shows that the average cannabis consumer also takes this same approach to their own personal diet, making more healthy meal choices than those who do not use cannabis. As eating healthy is another way you can get even more benefits from cannabis. A healthy diet will improve the body’s ability to best process your cannabis intake in all forms and this will provide overall improvements in personal health.

A report released this December ranking America’s healthiest states, has states like; California, Colorado, Hawaii and Washington ranked in the top 15 healthiest states with 10 of those 15 also having medical cannabis programs. It’s also been studied by the National Institutes of Health, to show how cannabis consumers eat 600 more calories per day than the average non-cannabis person. One of those studies they did trying to foster the “reefer madness” ideology that we’re all  just fat lazy stoners with the munchies…but wait, for some reason, those extra calories don’t necessarily turn into fat.

How is that possible? New research raises some interesting questions about cannabis, metabolism, and body fat.

Humans have long sought food from our earth’s bounty and have found proteins, carbohydrates and sugars in large enough quantity to sustain and enlarge the human race.  Even going back to our days as a hunter-gatherer, humans included cannabis as part of their diet. More specifically, researchers from Washington State University looked into whether people far from the influence of Western media might smoke the cannabis to self-medicate against intestinal parasites. They settled on the Aka tribe, whose cultural history goes back some 2,800 years. These hunter-gatherers live deep in the central African rainforest of the Congo, who are known to smoke cannabis for therapeutic use. The results show that while the researchers don’t believe they’re deliberately are smoking it to cure themselves of worms, it did show the benefits and reason why cannabis use was part of the tribe’s diet.

As cannabis becomes more integrated within mainstream culture, more and more people are becoming more educated on the many benefits of THC, CBD,  and other cannabinoids. Not only does cannabis consumption lower insulin resistance, but it also improves fasting insulin and facilitates metabolic function. Coupled with the pain-relieving effects of both plant and human-derived cannabinoids, cannabis and your diet seem to go hand in hand if you’re looking to improve your physical health and overall wellness.

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high or too low. If you consume a meal which make blood glucose levels rise quickly, insulin secretion often overshoots to compensate and the excess is stored as fat. If you have too much unused glucose in your cells, you will gain weight. If your body isn’t handling insulin properly, you may also gain weight.

In 2013, a study published in the American Journal of Medicine has found that regular cannabis consumers have fasting insulin (insulin in your body before eating) levels 16% lower than non-consumers. The study also found that cannabis consumers had 17% lower insulin resistance levels and lower average waist circumferences. The researchers concluded that there were significant associations between cannabis use and how cannabis consumers have lower BMIs and waistlines up to 1.5 inches smaller than non-users.

“The most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers,” Murray Mittleman, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study, told Time Magazine. “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.”

In research published by scientists from the University of Miami that reported regular cannabis users were 54% less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome than their non-using counterparts. According to the Mayo Clinic, metabolic syndrome is a term for a series of co-occurring health problems. The conditions include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Excess body fat around the waist and belly
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels

When these factors all occur together, they greatly increase your likelihood of developing stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.

The University of Miami study examined data from nearly 8,500 individuals via the National Health and Nutrition Surveys. Participants included were between the age of 20 and 59-years-old. They found cannabis users on average:

  • Had lower blood sugar levels
  • Less risk of developing type 2 Diabetes
  • Less abdominal fat
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Lower levels of bad cholesterol.

In conjunction with cannabis use on metabolism, water is crucial and helps nutrients flow through your body. And for all cannabis smokers, a increased water intake is needed as the smoking and eating cannabis can lead to dehydration.  Even mild dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as much as 40%. One glass of water shuts down hunger pains for almost 100% of dieters. Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. Keep a BPA free water bottle in sight all day.

So, what does all of this research suggest?  When you eat, smoke, vape or dab your cannabis, you are consuming some compounds that ramp up your metabolism and make you hungry (THC). But, you’re also consuming other cannabinoids (CBD) that directly help mitigate some of that unremitting hunger- the phenomenon known as “the munchies”. The funny thing about the cannabis plant is that when you consume it, you’re taking in two substances that largely contradict each other. THC increases appetite by binding to CB1 cell receptors in your brain. But, at the same time, CBD tells those cell receptors to deactivate. This goes to show you just how the science and research of cannabis is further revealing even more benefits of cannabis and its impact on human health. And once more that science has shown how cannabis may prove to be another effective and new medicine for those suffering from various metabolic disorders.

Jason Barker
About Jason Barker 35 Articles
• New Mexico medical cannabis patient and activist • Grass roots organizer with LECUA Patients Coalition of New Mexico CERTIFICATIONS • Exercise Specialist Certificate for Personal Training / Life Coaching / Sport Nutrition • International Mountain Bike Association- National Mountain Bike Patrol • USA Cycling Coach • Bike Patrol-Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization; Columbus, OH — 2005 -2010 • Bike Patrol-IMBA National Mountain Bike Patrol; Lee County, FL —2007-2008 • Youth Cycling Coach-Savage Hill Cycling Team; Westerville, OH — 2004-2005 • Isle of Palms Police Dept. - Beach Patrol — 1997 • Open Water Rescue Professional / Beach Patrol / EMT ; Hilton Head Is., SC 1994-1997