Cannabis Science

Can Weed Help Insulin Resistance?

doctor with gloves and insulin

Research has suggested that weed can help with many ailments such as pain and anxiety. Scientists are constantly investigating weed and its purported medical properties. Weed is being researched as a solution to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance may affect up to 30% of America’s population. But can weed help insulin resistance? Here’s what we know. 

Photo: Unsplash

What is Insulin Resistance?

According to WebMD, insulin resistance, also called metabolic syndrome, is characterized by specific cells in your body having an inadequate insulin response. These cells, namely, the cells in your liver, muscle, and fat, also can’t use the glucose in your blood for energy. As WebMD explains, your pancreas will make more insulin, and your blood sugar will also increase. 

WebMD says, while you’ll need a blood test to check on your blood sugar levels, signs of insulin resistance include:

  • Acanthosis nigricans which refers to dark velvet skin usually found under the armpits, neck, groin and other places.
  • 130/80 or higher blood pressure readings
  • Waist size over 35 inches for a woman and 40 for a man
  • Over 100 mg/dL reading for your fasting glucose levels
  • Over 150 mg/dL reading for your fasting triglyceride level

In addition to that, there are several risk factors that WebMD mentions for insulin resistance. They include:

  • Sedentary (inactive) lifestyle
  • Obesity (particularly belly fat)
  • High carb diet
  • Ethnicity (People of Latino, Native American and African Americans ancestry are at a greater risk)
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Being over 45 years old 

Insulin resistance can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes. WebMD states that happens because your pancreas will continue producing more insulin until it can’t keep up. Without a change to your diet and exercise, you’ll develop pre-diabetes. If you don’t make changes, eventually, prediabetes turns into diabetes. To find out if you have diabetes, a blood sugar test will be done. If your fasting plasma glucose is 126 or higher, you have diabetes. 

Weed and Insulin Resistance

There is evidence that weed may prevent and help insulin resistance. As a matter of fact, there is anecdotal evidence showing how stoners may have an advantage. Healthline says, “Researchers have found that marijuana users have lower fasting insulin levels compared to non-users, as well as healthier waist sizes and BMI scores.”

According to a 2013 study, marijuana users had:

  • 16% lower levels of fasting insulin 
  • 17% lower levels of HOMA-IR (assessment of insulin resistance)
  • Smaller waist circumference
  • Higher High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

As Medical News Today says, this implies marijuana users have an increased sensitivity to insulin, which is a good thing. 

Interestingly, the study states that these effects are associated with recent marijuana use. However, they weren’t able to find any significant dose response. 

Even though marijuana seems a good option for insulin resistance management, it may harm people with diabetes. According to Medical News Today, people with diabetes with munchies could spike their blood sugar. People with munchies tend to crave carbs which are notorious for spiking blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels get too high, they may end up in the hospital. The good news is that healthy munchies options are healthy munchies options available, so have them on hand before you use weed.

Another cause for concern is having low blood sugar. Yes, the opposite problem could occur while you’re baked.  Some diabetes may not notice their blood sugar levels falling when they’re stoned according to Medical News Today. Having very low blood sugar could also make you end up in the hospital. 

Weed and Body Weight 

In addition to that, stoners are known for having less body weight, despite eating a lot. Murray Mittleman, M.D was quoted by Heathline saying that even though stoners typically consume more calories than non stoners but are leaner. The 2013 study previously referenced also said that cannabis given to obese rats was associated with weight reduction.

While weighing less doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthier, that may not mean they’re healthy per se; it does mean they’re not obese, which is a risk factor for insulin resistance and diabetes. Medical News Today says, “Being overweight or having obesity is one of the most significant risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.”

Other Ways to Avoid Insulin Resistance  

Avoiding insulin resistance is important. According to WebMD, insulin resistance not only potentially causes severe high blood sugar and severe blood sugar, but it can also:

  • Strokes
  • Cancer
  • Alzeimers 
  • Kidney disease
  • Eye problems

If you’re looking for ways to avoid or decrease your chances of experiencing insulin resistance, WebMd says you can:

  • Do 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days per week. Moderate exercise includes walking briskly. Generally speaking, it’s recommended to speak to your doctor before starting an exercise routine. 
  • Make sure your diet has whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and other components of a healthy diet. A nutritionist may be able to help you develop an eating plan that works for you and your lifestyle.
  • Take the medication prescribed by your doctor. Certain medications, such as Metformin, control blood sugar. 


Can weed help insulin resistance? There is evidence that suggests weed can alleviate insulin resistance. One study found that stoners do have an advantage over non stoners when it comes to insulin resistance. However, more research is needed in this area. If you have diabetes, hold off on turning to weed to control your symptoms. Instead, speak with a medical professional first. 


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].