We have long associated medical marijuana with benefiting sufferers of illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and cancer. Now a new study concludes the plant can help diabetes patients, too.
Research published in the American Journal of Medicine has linked regular marijuana use to lower insulin levels, smaller waistlines and higher “good” cholesterol levels. The find has inspired debate about whether medical cannabis could be used as an effective diabetes treatment.
“Epidemiological studies have found lower prevalence rates of obesity and diabetes mellitus in marijuana users compared with people who have never used marijuana, suggesting a relationship between cannabinoids and peripheral metabolic processes,” the study’s authors wrote.
Researchers Elizabeth Penner, Hannah Buettner and Dr. Murray A. Mittelman, MD studied 4,657 adult men and women from the National Health and Nutrition Examinations Survey (NHANES) between 2005 and 2010. Those who currently smoked marijuana exhibited lower levels of fasting insulin and lower levels of insulin resistance than those who never or occasionally smoked. Marijuana smokers also had smaller waist circumferences and higher HDL cholesterol levels than those who never or sometimes smoked marijuana.
Dr. Mittelman wrote that the research “is the first study to investigate the relationship between marijuana use and fasting insulin, glucose and insulin resistance.”