Effects of Marijuana on Weight Gain and Bone Density

Effects of Marijuana on Weight Gain and Bone Density
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Are the apparent adverse effects of heavy cannabis use on bone just due to users being skinnier?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

There’s been a recognition that cigarette smoking can have a major effect on bone health for decades––increasing the lifetime risk of hip fracture by about half. It also appears to impair bone healing––so much so that surgeons ask if they should be discriminating against smokers, because the bone and wound healing complication rates are so high. But what about smoking marijuana?

There is accumulating evidence to suggest that cannabis compounds play important roles regulating bone mass and bone loss. Yeah, but are they friend or foe? “Results from research on [cannabis compounds] and bone mineral density in rodent models have been inconsistent. Some studies show increased bone formation, others [show increased] bone loss, and…others [show] no association” at all. This variation in results may be due in part to differences in the mouse strain used. But if you can’t even extrapolate from one mouse to another, how can you extrapolate to human beings?

So, what if you just measure cannabis use and bone mineral density in people? Thousands of adults were tested and asked about their cannabis use, and there did not appear to be any link between the two; that’s a relief. Though in this study, “heavy” cannabis use was defined as just five days or more of use in the last month. They didn’t ask beyond that. So, theoretically, someone who’s just smoked five joints in their entire life could be categorized as a “heavy user.”

How about cannabis use on five thousand separate occasions over a lifetime? Now that’s a heavy user, decades of regular use. And in that case, heavy use was associated with both low bone mineral density and an increased risk of bone fractures. About double the fracture rate––presumably due to lower bone density in the hip and spine, though heavy cannabis users were also skinnier on average, and skinnier people have lighter bones.

Hip fracture risk goes down as your weight goes up; nearly half of underweight women have osteoporosis. But less than 1% of obese women do, which makes total sense. Being obese forces your body to make your bones stronger to carry around all that extra weight. That’s why weight-bearing exercise is so important to constantly put stress on your skeleton: it’s use it or lose it. That’s why astronauts can lose a percent of their bone mass every month. Their bodies aren’t stupid; why waste all that energy making a strong skeleton if you’re not going to put any weight on it?

So, maybe that’s the only reason heavy cannabis users have frailer bones––is because they tend to be about 15 pounds lighter? Wait a second, users are slimmer? What about the munchies? The lower BMI of heavy cannabis users may seem counterintuitive, given the appetite stimulation, but this isn’t the first time this has been noted.

Pop culture “depicts marijuana users as a sluggish, lethargic,…unproductive subculture of compulsive snackers.” And it’s true that marijuana has been found to increase food intake; a single hit can increase appetite. And so, you’d expect obesity rates to rise in states that legalized it. But, if anything, the rise in obesity appeared to slow after medical marijuana laws were passed, whereas it appeared to just keep rising in other states.

The reason pot smokers may be slimmer is because of the effect of smoked marijuana on metabolism. We’ve known for nearly 40 years that within 15 minutes of lighting up, your metabolic rate goes up by about 25%, and stays there for at least an hour. So, that may be playing a role.

So is that why heavy cannabis use is associated with lower bone mineral density and increased risk of fractures? They’re just not as overweight? No. Even taking BMI into account, heavy cannabis use appears to be an independent predictor of weaker bones.

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Image credit: Pxhere. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

There’s been a recognition that cigarette smoking can have a major effect on bone health for decades––increasing the lifetime risk of hip fracture by about half. It also appears to impair bone healing––so much so that surgeons ask if they should be discriminating against smokers, because the bone and wound healing complication rates are so high. But what about smoking marijuana?

There is accumulating evidence to suggest that cannabis compounds play important roles regulating bone mass and bone loss. Yeah, but are they friend or foe? “Results from research on [cannabis compounds] and bone mineral density in rodent models have been inconsistent. Some studies show increased bone formation, others [show increased] bone loss, and…others [show] no association” at all. This variation in results may be due in part to differences in the mouse strain used. But if you can’t even extrapolate from one mouse to another, how can you extrapolate to human beings?

So, what if you just measure cannabis use and bone mineral density in people? Thousands of adults were tested and asked about their cannabis use, and there did not appear to be any link between the two; that’s a relief. Though in this study, “heavy” cannabis use was defined as just five days or more of use in the last month. They didn’t ask beyond that. So, theoretically, someone who’s just smoked five joints in their entire life could be categorized as a “heavy user.”

How about cannabis use on five thousand separate occasions over a lifetime? Now that’s a heavy user, decades of regular use. And in that case, heavy use was associated with both low bone mineral density and an increased risk of bone fractures. About double the fracture rate––presumably due to lower bone density in the hip and spine, though heavy cannabis users were also skinnier on average, and skinnier people have lighter bones.

Hip fracture risk goes down as your weight goes up; nearly half of underweight women have osteoporosis. But less than 1% of obese women do, which makes total sense. Being obese forces your body to make your bones stronger to carry around all that extra weight. That’s why weight-bearing exercise is so important to constantly put stress on your skeleton: it’s use it or lose it. That’s why astronauts can lose a percent of their bone mass every month. Their bodies aren’t stupid; why waste all that energy making a strong skeleton if you’re not going to put any weight on it?

So, maybe that’s the only reason heavy cannabis users have frailer bones––is because they tend to be about 15 pounds lighter? Wait a second, users are slimmer? What about the munchies? The lower BMI of heavy cannabis users may seem counterintuitive, given the appetite stimulation, but this isn’t the first time this has been noted.

Pop culture “depicts marijuana users as a sluggish, lethargic,…unproductive subculture of compulsive snackers.” And it’s true that marijuana has been found to increase food intake; a single hit can increase appetite. And so, you’d expect obesity rates to rise in states that legalized it. But, if anything, the rise in obesity appeared to slow after medical marijuana laws were passed, whereas it appeared to just keep rising in other states.

The reason pot smokers may be slimmer is because of the effect of smoked marijuana on metabolism. We’ve known for nearly 40 years that within 15 minutes of lighting up, your metabolic rate goes up by about 25%, and stays there for at least an hour. So, that may be playing a role.

So is that why heavy cannabis use is associated with lower bone mineral density and increased risk of fractures? They’re just not as overweight? No. Even taking BMI into account, heavy cannabis use appears to be an independent predictor of weaker bones.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Pxhere. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

116 responses to “Effects of Marijuana on Weight Gain and Bone Density

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  1. The marijuana enthusiasts won’t thank you for this just like the cholesterol fans didn’t thank you for yesterday’s blog on cholesterol.

    1. It’s true, Mr Fumbles. I myself am getting agitated… all I can think is omg Dr. Greger, when are you going to finally come out with the video that shows smoking weed, drinking alcohol and saturated fat are actually good for us and also laying around “binge watching”… stop cherry-picking!

      The boost of metabolism was surprising, but there are much healthier ways to boost our metabolism.

    2. No, let’s pretend that you know better than the collective data because your spirit guide told you so… You do realize that using the argument that one thing is worse than another so therefore the bad thing is good, is ridiculous and does not make a “pro” case for something, right? Also, throwing “caffeine” in there was hilarious, thank you.

        1. My Mom always said she would like to try it just once before she died(she wasn’t even sick at the time). She never would and then when she was dying from Cancer marijuana was provided to her and she would not try it.

    1. Hey YR… here’s a story about an edible that is healthy and won’t get you high. (Don’t spread that around or the pot heads won’t try it. ‘-)

        1. Hemp seeds are amazing for you. I eat them almost everyday. Excellent source of magnesium, omega-3’s, SDA, GLA, protein, zinc, etc… I’d like more light shed on their benefits.

          1. Hemp seeds are amazing for you. I eat them almost everyday…

            I’d like more light shed on their benefits.
            ————————————————————-
            S, do you mean ground up hemp seeds… or is there a way to consume them whole (cooked?)

            I add them as ground up to things like a soup or even a morning oatmeal with blueberries and cinnamon breakfast.

            1. Lonie,

              Yes I mean the seeds. I usually throw them in a smoothie but sometimes I just sprinkle them on oats or something in which case they’re not ground, just unshelled.

      1. I think he’s predisposed to saying even medical marijuana has harmful.
        Which by the way is prescribed by physicians. And he has children so that may impact his ideas plus I think he lives in a state where consuming cannabis is illegal.

        1. psyrog, there is zero evidence backing up your theory on Dr. Greger’s “predisposition.” On the contrary, he’s reported the more neutral and mildly (I say mildly because I have not found anything in the evidence to be all that valuable) beneficial aspects of marijuana. He’s simply going by the evidence as you can easily see from each of his videos on the subjects and in the cited studies below them.

          But your theory is a popular one among the “marijuana is amazing for you” crowd.

          1. I didn’t say it was amazing for you. But I do think we need to stick to nutrition and what we consume as initially indicated. I’m a big fan of Dr.
            Greger and support his website.

            1. I think it’s just as important as nutrition, it too is something we put in us. I’m sure we’d all want the facts shed on tobacco if they weren’t already out there and we all got the unhappy inside look at alcohol consumption which was important.

  2. Somehow I doubt if heavy cannabis users will be very concerned about bone density. lol And if it actually does increase metabolic rate, maybe I should start toking!
    Also….trying to figure out how you came up with “someone who’s only smoked 5 times in their entire life could be categorized a heavy user” when that paragraph clearly quantifies… 5 times “in the last 30 days?” Big difference.

    1. Vegetater,

      Because technically, the person who’s smoked 5 times in the last 30 days may have never smoked a single joint before then, thus making it the only times they’ve ever smoked in their life.

  3. Barb, I revisited the Dr. Kahn video. Autophagy is a popular subject. Dr. Kahn does an 800 calorie fast four or five days a month and claims benefit. I am cautious because it seems like a form of dieting which is proven not to work in the long run. I am okay with limiting eating to WFPB and eating before 5 pm.

    1. Dan, thanks, I watched it too, along with many lectures given by Dr Longo who is the man behind the fasting mimicking diet. https://www.bluezones.com/2016/04/fasting-for-longevity/
      There are TED talks, youtube videos etc where he is featured. Dr Greger also did a video on it but unfortunately that had a focus on weightloss.
      That is not the point of the fmd. I will try it since it is calorie restriction (safer for me) vs just a water fast.

      That all being said, I am experiencing good results with eating between 8am and 4 or 5pm, drinking water, increasing exercise, and working on sleep issues.

  4. I was thinking about this yesterday when you talked about nicotine.

    Nicotine increases insulin resistance and diabetes, but smokers keep smoking to avoid weight gain, but smokers don’t get the munchies. Sometimes they might get the cups of coffees.

    I was thinking it because of Lustig explaining obesity through the brain not seeing the Leptin because of insulin/insulin resistance, and my mind said, “Except when it is caused by smoking?”

    Okay, so does marijuana cause diabetes the way nicotine does?

    1. (Laughing because I almost had gone back and posted that question yesterday, but I had already multiple-batch posted too much. I need 50 people to show up and post so that I can think all of this through without annoying people.)

      1. Okay, so if smoking cigarettes causes diabetes by increasing insulin resistance, but doesn’t stop the brain from seeing the leptin?

        But pot is the one that has the brain temporarily doesn’t see the leptin to give the munchies, but it increases metabolism and maybe doesn’t cause insulin resistance?

        1. Deb,

          I don’t think pot causes insulin resistance. I no someone who smokes for many years and does not have that. That person does get hungry but overall healthy. Hardly ever gets sick. If you really want to know about marijuana and actually how beneficial it can be for your health you need to look past this article and do your own research . I also agree with about people who smoke cigarettes. They consume tons of coffee for sure. Smoking cigarettes is 100 times worse then marijuana. I’m also not advocating recreational marijuana in young teens that can be a real issue for the brain, but older people is actually very beneficial for the brain and cancer.

          1. Margaret,

            You are right. It doesn’t cause insulin resistance.

            It causes the munchies and I was very happy that science has defined what the munchies are and I found it very interesting because if Lustig is right, it SHOULD cause insulin resistance, but it doesn’t last long enough maybe. It causes an increase in the intake of SUGARY solid items such as candy bars.

            The increase in caloric intake was due to an increased consumption of snack foods as a consequence of an increase in the number of snacking occasions. There was no significant change in caloric consumption during meals. The principal increase within the category of snack foods was in the intake of sweet solid items, e.g., candy bars, compared to sweet fluid, e.g., soda, or savory solid items, e.g., potato chips.

            1. What does pot versus cigarettes say about hunger and metabolic disorders?

              In my mind, cigarettes increase insulin resistance, but even if insulin resistance from fructose cause the whole leptin problem, smoking gets rid of the ghrelin in the saliva and causes food to not look or smell as appetizing, so ghrelin trumps the insulin resistance. That being said, not craving sugar or food and not gaining weight is not a benefit in the whole metabolic disorder thing. They still are something like 30% more likely to get diabetes/insulin resistance.

              Pot smoking causes people to crave fructose, and it increases ghrelin, but doesn’t increase insulin resistance and the fructose doesn’t cause metabolic syndrome and both of them have stronger metabolism so that cancels out.

              1. It would seem like lowering the attractiveness and smell of food to lower ghrelin might help people who can’t get the shots to have their brains see the leptin. That is my theory, but, well, all of this has been my theory which is pretty much based on confusion, so take it for what it is worth.

                1. Either way, not eating extra and having a better metabolism doesn’t benefit smokers.

                  And craving candy doesn’t cause insulin resistance and the hunger cycle in the pot smokers.

                  But it might be insensitive to say, “Break a leg” to a pot-smoking athlete.

                  1. And it is the pot smokers who get the laziness thing without the extra hunger

                    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28620722

                    From my anecdotal experience, people like painters and carpenters and auto mechanics and people who do hard physical labor all day long are often cigarette smokers. Blue-collar workers don’t have the same negative predispositions toward smoking cigarettes.

                    Historically, the pot smokers in my life didn’t choose to do hard physical labor as a profession. They were closer to hippies, deadheads, etc.

                    That is somewhat anecdotal, but the cigarette smokers take a smoking break and go back to hard physical labor immediately after and they really do. The one pot smoker we had working here we would find out in the back taking a nap after lunch every day. He would start working and sneak off for a nap. He isn’t here anymore, but the smokers in my life never did that and the pot smokers I knew in college did the same thing. (I had a job on the campus and the pot smokers would go hide after “lunch” and take a nap.)

                    1. How great is this:

                      They don’t just have what pot smokers munch on, they have what cigarette smokers munch on:

                      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28620722

                      Compared to never smokers, current smokers reported more frequent cravings for high-fat foods and fast-food fats, after controlling for depression, stress, BMI and demographic factors.

                      There is a separate craving list related just to nicotine dependence which I will mention because sweets are over in that list, but smoking is the actual habit for smokers, nicotine would be the habit maybe for the patch or gum, etc.

                      I say it because I think I just used pot versus cigarettes to support Dr. Greger’s view by the end.

                      Though I am genuinely not intelligent enough to really know if I can examine Lustig’s theory based on pot versus tobacco.

                    2. But what ends up not making sense is that cigarette smokers have MORE food dependence, but LESS ghrelin and I can’t remember the leptin answer, but when I looked at the food dependence one, they are craving fats and fast foods and may be having such a big metabolic response, but the whole lower hunger and higher food dependence has confused me.

                      Same BMI even with higher food dependence is interesting.

                      Okay, I am officially confused.

                      Maybe tomorrow.

                    3. Okay, the elderly just came to mind.

                      Can’t taste most flavors, so you start only wanting things like sweets.

                      Fats and sweets increase food dependence and increase insulin resistance.

                      Lower ghrelin from not having taste buds and not being able to smell food maybe is the equilizer somehow to the brain not seeing the Leptin, maybe similar to how you can eat Keto and lose weight just by throwing out the other macros or by feeling sick from the fats?

                      I think that is the best I can do.

                    4. Okay.

                      People who are dependent on nicotine in one study were something like doubly likely to have food dependence and they are attracted to fatty foods and sugars.

                      So, is it just the food causing the diabetes, rather than the nicotine or is it toxins in the liver?

    2. Deb, not sure where lustig gets the idea about nicotine, but, as most ex smokers will attest, metobolism slows when quitting. Dr Greger mentioned in one video it amounts to 200 cal/day which is not negligible.

      1. Dr. Greger speaks of the metabolic boost of smoking in his promotion/discussion of his latest book. The simple take-away is that one can replicate such metabolic boost with the addition of acetic acid to his/her food. Balsamic or apple cider vinegar is what I use now, but it didn’t reduce my weight at all–and that’s okay, I’m under 23BMI and steady for 5 years now.

      2. Barb,

        No, it wasn’t him who said anything about nicotine.

        It was that I looked up the country with the highest rate of diabetes also has a very high rate of smoking, so I looked up nicotine and insulin resistance and nicotine and diabetes and, yes, smoking cigarettes is considered to cause diabetes in smokers, but my thought was that they aren’t gaining the same weight as when people get their insulin resistance from food. Stopping smoking might actually decrease insulin resistance, but people eat more and gain weight, so it might not reverse diabetes? Those are all my thoughts.

        Lustig comes in because he said that insulin resistance blocking the brain from seeing leptin is what causes obesity and sloth.

        Nicotine increases insulin resistance and insulin resistance is what Lustig said causes the brain to not see Leptin and when the brain doesn’t see Leptin, people stay hungry. But people who smoke cigarettes don’t get the munchies and don’t gain weight even though they have much higher rates of insulin resistance.

        Those are all just my thoughts.

          1. I am going to hypothesize that cigarette smokers who do get insulin resistance and diabetes might also have hunger issues even while smoking.

            Meaning, I am going to think that maybe the ones where the insulin resistance makes them hungry might be more likely to get Type 2 Diabetes.

            But pot smokers aren’t getting insulin resistance, so the munchies – which from what I have seen is usually for junk food – is not as bad for the liver if you have a good metabolism?

        1. Well, I would question your line of thinking on this one Deb… out of hundreds of smokers, I have only known 1 diabetis smoker, and they are overweight , specially round the middle. Ad Wade says, nicotine actually was mentioned to give a metaboluc boost. As an ex-smoker
          myself, I can attest to the slowing metabolism after quitting, and zero rise in glucose and insulin resistance during smoking… quite the opposite.
          Are you a smoker Deb? Are you worried about weight gain while quitting?

          Thanks Wade for the acetic acid tip!

    3. Deb, I’ve seen a lot of Robert Lustig’s presentations and I don’t recall him ever mentioning cannabis. I probably didn’t pay attention to much of what he said about nicotine either, because it does not apply to me (being quit now for 10 years or so).

      Nicotine and the 60+ known cannabinoids are totally different substances, with their only real similarity being their most common method of ingestion. The cannabinoid group has been credited with many therapeutic effects for many different conditions, whereas nicotine is a one-trick pony for the most part (and I’m unfamiliar with any therapeutic use). I cannot see any similarity in these substances.

      Free sugar and processed foods is what causes our metabolic dysfunction of today, according to Dr. Lustig. I’m inclined to agree.

      1. Wade,

        No, he didn’t talk about either.

        He just mentioned looking at the countries with the highest rates of diabetes and when I went to the first country, they didn’t have the ridiculous eating style we have in the USA, but they were big smokers.

        It is only the topic of insulin resistance and the effect on hunger that landed me back around at Lustig again. I associate pot with hunger and not cigarettes, but cigarettes cause insulin resistance and diabetes.

        Laughing.

        Sorry for thinking aloud. I was actually thinking about all of this yesterday and my mind is still looping around it.

        1. Okay, maybe it is time to look to see if pot affects ghrelin rather than leptin.

          Yes, it is ghrelin that causes the munchies.

          The researchers found that the cannabis dose triggered a ghrelin surge. When they gave a second drug which prevented the ghrelin surge, cannabis no longer triggered eating.

          1. I did look up nicotine and it enhances modulation of food-cue reactivity by leptin and ghrelin in the prefrontal cortex.

            It also lowers the ghrelin in the saliva and causes food not to taste as much and visually it also doesn’t look as appetizing both of those decrease ghrelin and cause loss of appetite.

            1. So ghrelin is a type of hunger driven by sensory cues and the stretch receptors?

              They said that the Type 1 Diabetic pot users had a harder time with blood sugar control and a harder time with their HbA1C levels were higher.

              So, for them, maybe they are getting double the ketoacidosis because they aren’t properly estimating how much insulin they need to cover “the munchies” or are they stoned and forgot their insulin?

              Either way, they are not having the same dulling of the appetites and they get a ghrelin spike versus nicotine.

              I think I need to find a source that explains obesity ghrelin versus leptin. I am thinking that the hypothalamus not seeing the leptin is the bigger problem.

    1. Good question. And from an human study I watched some years ago the LAST thing you want is straight THC–it takes the subject straight into the awful paranoia and feelings of uneasiness-that sometimes can happen to a lesser extent with smoked bud. The lady in the program was terribly uneasy and miserable until it wore off (she was injected). It’s a blend of cannabinoids that give the good feelings and other such effects. Those blends depend quite a bit on the strain of cannabis and how it was grown, is cured and processed, and prepared before ingestion.

      1. You can find lab reports on various named strains that show the amounts of the known cannabinoids in a given sample. These can give insight into what a person might experience with each one.

  5. I’m surprised that the scientific community lags behind on what is truly happening in society. This says that Smoking in general definitely contributes to worse bone health. So one would assume that smoking cannabis would lead you to the same conclusion. But what about the millions of people not smoking cannabis? Instead they using edibles or tinctures. I’ve yet to see any scientific study which looks at non-smoking cannabis use. I believe that would be worth researching.

    1. jyounce,

      I don’t know how much you can extrapolate the harms of smoking cigarettes to smoking marijuana, beyond the effects of the smoke (chemicals and particulate matter produced by burning plant materials).

      For example:

      “Smoking reduces the blood supply to the bones and to many other body tissues.
      The nicotine in cigarettes slows production of bone-producing cells, called osteoblasts.
      Smoking decreases the body’s absorption of calcium, which is necessary for vital cellular functions and bone health.
      Smoking affects the balance of hormones, including estrogen, which is needed to build and maintain a strong skeleton in women and men.”
      https://www.ucihealth.org/blog/2018/11/smoking-bone-health

      These effects appear to be due to the nicotine (and if so, predicts problem for those who vape instead of smoke tobacco products). But nicotine and related compounds in tobacco may exert different effects from the cannabinoids in marijuana.

  6. So let us have a study on bone density of athletes (professional or amateur) who use cannabis. There are plenty and some multiple medal winners too- like Michael Phelps. Very likely a few Superbowl ring wearers, Stanley Cup recipients, etc. Of course many of those folks also use performance enhancing drugs as well-despite the charade of prohibition and testing (as well-proven by US Postal Team of the Lance Armstrong era). But that’s a whole ‘nother ball of resin.

    Perhaps the weight difference could be attributed to less alcohol consumption. Some folks drink less when they have access to cannabis, some stop drinking alcohol altogether.

    I’m sure they controlled for cigarette smoking as cannabis users are divided in tobacco use as well.

    The 5,000-uses group probably doesn’t go for a workout often (and they’re not on a treadmill winding up a spliff or packing the bong), but rather dials up a food delivery and binge-watches whatever flips their switch. That’s about 14 years of once-per day use-which might likely have started before their brains were fully formed (around 25). Some folks don’t start that young and it may be relevant to how their processors and bodies handle the cannabinoids.

    The studies here looked at some extremely casual users, and then some quite heavy users. This is tantamount to looking at the lightest social drinker and then looking at the Homer Simpson type 6-12 per day drinker. It’s a wild swing from casual to chronic. It’s my bet that we have many more folks in the middle of those extremes.

    We have a lot to learn in this area, and maybe now with studies being less risky we can find better answers to questions such as these.

    Carry on.

  7. Reductionism ~ isolating one variable and attributing any and all physical change in a system to it alone. Reductionism accounts for the ill conceived impulse to isolate and concentrate various healthful compounds from plants, which of course deprives them of their mutual and necessary synergism.

    Anti-marijuana sentiment derives from anti-liberalism, insofar as it was a symbol of the “Hippie Movement.” However it has been used by mankind for untold millennia before Hippies rediscovered it. It is far less harmful than alcohol, the conservative drug of choice. Adults and children in most of Europe drank beer instead of water ever since the advent of agriculture because their water quickly became polluted once hunter-gatherers settled in one place.

    In later Victorian times untold numbers of children starved to death because giving them beer was eventually outlawed.

    It is interesting how one’s interpretation of data depends on their preconceived notions.

    1. Navy Corpsman,

      That is not what is happening here.

      Dr. Greger has posted both positives and negatives about pot over and over again.

      This video has both positives and negatives in it and people who choose to smoke pot or drink alcohol or eat sugar or go keto deserve to hear the risks and benefits presented in a balanced way.

      Vegans already might break bones more often, so it is doubly important for this audience to know that as a risk factor.

      That isn’t a political issue at all.

      And, yes, I am probably against all of it, but I do know that abolition didn’t go exactly as the health-oriented community would have wanted either.

      1. Please do not condescend, ok? I have been smoking pot since 1969. Most people who are dying (or who have broken bones) now are younger than I am. hahaha

  8. I have been a MJ user for over 20 years and mostly every night. I use it responsibly, ie not when I go to work or drive etc. I have major anxiety and using the indica has helped tremendously. I was in a car accident years ago and turned down the vicodin and oxycodone for pain. I instead chose my weed. It did wonders for my body which was beat up from the accident, and there was no way being a vegan/WFPB eater that I was taking any pharmaceuticals! The weed worked wonders for my body and loosened it up where I could actually walk around, which I had trouble with when I wasn’t using weed. It even blew my mind how beneficial it was to me. And with regular use, you do not get the munchies like they show in the movies. Or behave that way, acting stupid and barely able to speak. It’s annoying to see that depiction as it is inaccurate. And as far as the weight, I’m 5’4 and weigh 112. I am very active and run, lift weights, spin, rock climb and have very dense bones as I’ve fallen and nothing is broken! I’m also in my 50s. There is so much stigma on weed and it’s a shame as it could be used for many medical issues. It’ shown to have amazing results in children with seizures, cancer patients, even Israel prescribes it to cancer patients. It’s truly unfair that it has such a bad rap from others that know nothing about the benefits of this amazing drug.

    1. THE PROBLEM with Mary Jane is that it is not patented by a giant pharmaceutical company. If it was, the stuff would be advertised during the evening news alongside the softest toilet paper and the cheapest car insurance. hahaha

  9. Aloha,
    So that means that if we take the bone mineral density readings of Jamaican Rastafarians, they will all have profound symptoms of porous bone disease!. Very few American pot smokers consume as much as Rastas do. So where are the studies showing this population to have weaker bones? I applaud the science done in the studies presented but one of the largest groups of heavy users is Rastas and I don’t see them being included in any of these studies. That brings any conclusions that these studies have under question.

    1. The number of lives shortened or ruined by pharmaceutical opioids is staggering. There are NO recorded deaths of overdose with MJ, while its benefits have been proclaimed for millennia.

      Since the “horrid drug” is associated with free-thinking and liberalism it is pariah to a good portion of the population. Though they chug alcohol and gulp unhealthy food with great gusto (and regularity.) hahaha

  10. I have been a daily medical cannabis user for over ten years now. I am also tired of the stigma surrounding the plant, and extremely tired of hearing how bad it is from those who have never used it to any extent, or done very much of their own research. They’re as bad as the drug pushing vaccine crowd. They understand almost nothing of what they speak, yet they have very strong opinions based on someone else’s rhetoric. Very dangerous to society!
    I also adopted a WFPB lifestyle at about the same time, and I give them both credit for saving my life. The fentanyl and other opioids, along with benzodiazepines, SSRI drugs, nsaids, etc. were killing me, and not so slowly. Yet that’s all modern media has to offer you once they’ve ruined your life with a failed back surgery and bowl resection thanks to diverticulitis caused by the pharmaceutical drugs.
    Is cannabis good for you? I’d say no if you’re just into getting high, but if you have a disease of ANY KIND you owe it to yourself to do your due diligence and research it. Look for the Tashkin study if you’re concerned about your lungs, and buy a vaporizer, DO NOT SMOKE it. A vaporizer will deliver all the medicine with very little in the way of carcinogens. I am a reformed cigarette smoker btw. Started at 13, quit at 30, I’m about to turn 62 in April.
    Cannabis is a far safer intoxicant than alcohol or any other that I’m aware of if you feel the need and may just carry a few medical benefits. It’s been used for medical, religious, and recreational purposes for millennia, only being vilified when it was seen as competition by major industry, and used as a prejudicial tool against minorities to this day. Look beyond the special interests on both sides of this issue and you will find at the center is a plant given to us just like all the others. It’s a very special plant with very special applications and it should be revered and used as such. It should be free to all who need it, and understood by all of us, just like it was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when it was a component in over 50% of the drug formulations, and was recommended for more illnesses than all others combined. That shows the true power of cannabis. I pray that someday common sense will prevail. Throw aside your prejudice and open your eyes and your mind. You will be much better for it.

  11. “Cannabis is a far safer intoxicant than alcohol or any other that I’m aware of if you feel the need and may just carry a few medical benefits.”
    – – – – –

    Black coffee and 72% plus dark chocolate does it for me. AND supposedly carry a “few medical benefits.”

    Or should I say “nutritional” benefits?

    1. YR, the first question my cardiologist asked me when I went for the appointment was, did I smoke pot? I told him no and he said “good, the boomer pot smokers are dropping like flies” . His words, not mine. I can’t stand the stuff, nor the smell of it. Just not my drug of choice.

  12. When I went to the doctor the first question he asked me is whether I used Marijuana. I replied “Almost every day, Doctor, since 1969.”

    “Great” he said. You are in such good condition (72 yoa) because you know how to take excellent care of yourself. That is why you are disease and ailment free. Neither Big Pharma nor myself is making any money off of you, Navy Corpsman. hahaha

    1. I am really glad you enjoy vibrant health Navy, as do I. No need for hostility though! Pot is legal here, and I am quite happy for those who depend upon it for their pain relief etc. that it is easily accessible. Btw, I did not ask about edibles or vaping since I don’t use. What I would be interested in is studies on cbd oil. Perhaps Dr Greger will tackle that question one day?

      1. What I would be interested in is studies on cbd oil. Perhaps Dr Greger will tackle that question one day?
        ——————————————————————————————————————————————
        THAT’S the comment I was about to post. This is the future of hemp as the number of pot smokers is probably static or declining. CBD users are the people who would never consider smoking pot, even as medicinal… but will take it as CBD oil to help with pain management.

        These are the people we should be focusing on as they (we) are the ones who need the science to offer guidance.

    2. When I went to the doctor the first question he asked me is whether I used Marijuana. I replied “Almost every day, Doctor, since 1969.”

      “Great” he said. You are in such good condition (72 yoa) because you know how to take excellent care of yourself. That is why you are disease and ailment free. Neither Big Pharma nor myself is making any money off of you, Navy Corpsman. hahaha
      —————————————————————————————————————————–
      Pssssst! Navy Corpsman… sounds like you picked up the habit in Vietnam. (I was there too but never toked… drank some beer and whiskey though.)

      But I’m here sub rosa just to remind you that Karma hates someone who celebrates too early?

  13. We are hobbled by our stigmas. Smoking is bad, unhealthy and unappealing. Doesn’t matter what is smoked. And that is what people are worried about. it is as if we were subconsciously asking “But what CAN I smoke???”

    To which the obvious answer is NOTHING! Smoke does not belong in the lungs. Unfortunately we seem to relate the strong response our lungs/body make to smoke with its (the smoke’s) power/effectiveness. (??!!?) This is the same logic that tells us that by eating strong animals we get their strength. It is just not so.

    When will a study look at the effects of vaporizing the cannabis oil? Get the whole combustion issue out of the way.
    Medical marijuana is often sold in an “un-smokable” form, which means it is meant to be vaporized. That merely means the flower has been dried and cured until ready for vaporization. Vaporization heats the flower to a heat level that turns the cannabinoids to vapor (think oil steam) but is not hot enough to induce combustion (burning).

    I would like to see a study regarding the effects of inhaling 380 degree Fahrenheit cannabis vapor. I am a jogger and haven’t been training at all this winter, while using med mar for depression and PTSD. I vaporize and was worried about my lungs. I just went for my first jog this year and was literally surprised at how well I did. My lungs didn’t struggle to keep my body supplied, I didn’t have to stop and pant for a while (I have in the past). So anectdotally, I report all is very good.

    Now people are people, so the idiocy of smoking is not going away. There are little hydrating packs available to rehydrate the cannabis for those that just have to smoke it. As fools, we must persist in our folly that we should become wise.

  14. [ “the boomer pot smokers are dropping like flies.” His words, not mine. ]

    So its MARIJUANA that is killing off us Boomers? Couldn’t be our 40%+ obesity rate could it? Or our fiber-free diet? Or the toxins in our food and atmosphere? Or our sedentary life? Or simply our old age?

    Did the kind Doctor send you home with a nice packet of pharmaceuticals to keep you healthy and fit? 70% of all Americans are take at least one pharmaceutical drug every day. Of that number, 17% have an active script for opioids.

    Here, take a toke and pass it along, pardner. hahaha

    1. According to Harvard

      ‘One of the few things scientists know for sure about marijuana and cardiovascular health is that people with established heart disease who are under stress develop chest pain more quickly if they have been smoking marijuana than they would have otherwise. This is because of complex effects cannabinoids have on the cardiovascular system, including raising resting heart rate, dilating blood vessels, and making the heart pump harder. Research suggests that the risk of heart attack is several times higher in the hour after smoking marijuana than it would be normally. While this does not pose a significant threat to people who have minimal cardiovascular risk, it should be a red flag for anyone with a history of heart disease. Although the evidence is weaker, there are also links to a higher risk of atrial fibrillation or ischemic stroke immediately following marijuana use. Consistent with these links, studies by Dr. Mukamal and colleagues also suggest that marijuana smoking may increase the long-term death rate among heart attack survivors.’
      https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/marijuana-and-heart-health-what-you-need-to-know

      1. Tom,

        Thank you for posting that. My friend’s father tried pot edibles and dropped dead within an hour. Fainted on the spot. I found someone else who described the same thing and there was a study where they had the same thing, but in each case the pot was dismissed as not the cause, even though it was in proximity time-wise.

        That timing thing is important. I have a relative on dialysis who has had doctors suggest pot but he has already had increased heart problems from dialysis. Originally, I said, “Maybe it would be good to give it a try.” But by the time I drove home, I texted back, I am not sure I want you to try it because I am not sure if it will increase your risk of heart attack.

        Knowing the first hour is important is an important thing to know.

    1. LG, from your link:

      “One of the few things scientists know for sure about marijuana and cardiovascular health is that people with established heart disease who are under stress develop chest pain more quickly if they have been smoking marijuana than they would have otherwise. This is because of complex effects cannabinoids have on the cardiovascular system, including raising resting heart rate, dilating blood vessels, and making the heart pump harder. Research suggests that the risk of heart attack is several times higher in the hour after smoking marijuana than it would be normally. While this does not pose a significant threat to people who have minimal cardiovascular risk, it should be a red flag for anyone with a history of heart disease. Although the evidence is weaker, there are also links to a higher risk of atrial fibrillation or ischemic stroke immediately following marijuana use. Consistent with these links, studies by Dr. Mukamal and colleagues also suggest that marijuana smoking may increase the long-term death rate among heart attack survivors.”
      – – – –

      Maybe if I’m on my death bed and about to kick the bucket at any moment…..maybe THEN I’d try it. It sounds scary! :-(

      1. Maybe if I’m on my death bed and about to kick the bucket at any moment…
        —————————————————————————————————–
        I’ve spent too much time over the years wondering why people who are about to die, kick a bucket? The only reason I can figure is they are standing on a bucket with a rope tied ’round their neck reachin up to the rafters.

        Wanting to either be in control or just get the lynching or suicide, as the case may be, over… they kick the bucket.

        Sorry, not sorry for briefly going off topic. ‘-)

          1. how a person could buy the farm when they’re about to…..fly off into the sky.
            —————————————————————————————————–
            Oh, that one’s easy… Life? Insurance.

            I hadn’t thought about the flying off into the sky thing… betcha that happens when they ask everyone to bow their heads, ’cause I’ve never heard anyone sayin’ they’ve seen it. But I guess if anyone had they would keep it to themselves else they’d be admonished for not having their head bowed.

    2. Oopa. Sorry. I didn’t realise that you had already responded to NC with the same link.

      Great minds etc? Though perhaps NC would probably say ‘fools seldom differ’?

  15. Im curious about studies for those who use CBD oil that has no THC in it for arthritis pain and other inflammatory issues. I live in Oregon and use a topical CBD pain relief Cream when I pull a muscle. CBD oil taken in an oral solution is used by many Seniors for help with pain. I realize being totally plant based helps with many of these issues, but just wonder what the research would show for oral CBD use especially in those who would be at higher risk for bone loss?

  16. The HUGE problem with looking at studies comparing pot smokers with the general population is the stigma and legal status of marijuana use. This leads to a KNOWN and significant bias in the creation of the two study groups. Basically only a peculiar segment of population is willing to identify as pot smokers. That’s why the main study cited says marijuana use is a PREDICTOR of bone loss and fractures.

    So the question in the video title is unanswered.

    Lots of things are associated with the group of people willing to declare themselves heavy pot smokers. Mostly it is people with pot convictions, drug treatment history, or general low awareness of consequences that say yes. Why this is so is plain to see in the actual study cited when viewed with Dr. Greger’s additional offering of information. Doctors have asked whether marijuana use should allow doctors to refuse surgery. So if asked in a survey by the health system whether you smoked pot, what would you say? Whether you smoked pot or not! And that is how the groups were selected. Answers to a questionnaire in the UK health system.

    The offering of an explanation based upon pot’s noted ability to increase metabolism is bizarre especially since most people are trying to do exactly that by taking herbs and spices mentioned in Dr. Greger’s latest book. Should we be concerned about hot pepper?

    There are lots of reasons to not smoke pot. But there are lots of things associated with the socioeconomic differences between pot smokers who are willing to declare it and those who are not.

  17. Is it reversible after quitting?
    I have been a heavy marijuana user for ~20 years and indeed have a low BMD.
    Quit using over a year ago, and am very much hopeful that it is.

    1. Sandy Beaches, from what I understand, you and your physician can devise a program that will help prevent fractures in future. A comprehensive program to increase bone density would include nutritional factors, (i posted the wiki link to illustrate nutritional, exercise components), an exercise program of walking, lifting weights etc, and perhaps medications. All things for you to talk over with your doctor.

      https://m.wikihow.com/Increase-Bone-Density
      https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/can-you-reverse-osteoporosis

      Btw, I eat the Daily Dozen by Dr Greger, and my calcium level is at the best it has been in my life. Calcium will be something you doctor will check, along with maybe vit D and magnesium, B12 etc.
      Congratulations on quitting! That is a terrific accomplishment, and perhaps is opening the door to a new and healthier lifestyle!

  18. Speaking of Marijuana:

    “Public health agencies worldwide have identified antibiotic resistance of disease-causing bacteria as one of humanity’s most critical challenges. However, scientists haven’t discovered a new class of antibiotics in more than 30 years. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Infectious Diseases have uncovered the hidden antibiotic potential of a non-psychoactive cannabis compound called cannabigerol (CBG), which helped control methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in mice.”

    https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-02/acs-cca022620.php

  19. Leaving a comment here because of the higher probability of it being answered on a newer video. I prefer a plant-based style of eating but I have dealt with inflammatory hair loss for years now and eating in the AIP style assisted with calming said pain and inflammation almost immediately. Thing is, it’s too restrictive and I prefer carbs to meat. Nightshades seem to be something I’m reactive too but I miss oatmeal and soymilk and agave syrup. I’m NOT going to eat Oil-free completely sugar-free vegan because I hate the food! Why does AIP work and yet my old fairly healthy all-inclusive plant-based way of eating didn’t? This isn’t meant to be antagonistic; I really want to be plant-based again but I need to find a way that works. I don’t think meat or paleo is inherently a bad way of eating; I just don’t like it.

    1. N,

      The AIP diet is an elimination diet that people with leaky gut and autoimmune often use.

      The thing is, it is likely that your gut and gut microbiome both need healing and that takes time.

      From what I have heard, the doctors tell people to go slow in changing the gut microbiome by introducing just small amounts of the foods a little at a time.

      As far as hating the food goes, I understand because I switched from junk food and pizza and I hated all of it, including oatmeal.

      Taste buds do change though.

      Maybe you need to start with researching how to heal your gut.

      1. N,

        The likely reason the elimination diet works is that you eliminated enough foods to get rid of the trigger foods.

        But healing the gut is better if you are able.

        But there are things like smoking and drinking alcohol, too much sodium, too much fructose, and things like RoundUp and all sorts of other things that can cause leaky gut.

        https://lupusrebel.com/glyphosate-can-it-be-the-cause-of-leaky-gut-and-disease/ roundup

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5513683/ alcohol

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29195678 smoking

        https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332521876_Fructose_Promotes_Leaky_Gut_Endotoxemia_and_Liver_Fibrosis_through_CYP2E1-Mediated_Oxidative_and_Nitrative_Stress fructose

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6689735/ high-fat diets/insulin resistance, dairy, NSAIDs

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5557559/ eating too many animal products resulting in a bad gut microbiome

    2. N, I would say it’s my guess that you answered your own question. The key appears to be in your own mindset. There is no sense in asking us, since Dr Greger’s Daily Dozen is comprised of vegetables, greens fruit, beans, whole grains, and exercise, no oil, sugar, salt .

      If your old ‘fairly healthy’ plant diet proved inflammatory, ot could have been the oil, agave, flour products, sugar products that you ate/eat. I would be looking to those foods causing the problem long before I looked sideways at nightshades.

      I did a vegan elimination diet with great results. Pain was resolved quickly… took less than a month to heal my gut, and of course I have remained on the program ever since.

      1. Thanks. I was hoping to get some info from one of the “doctors” that monitor and answer questions. My “mindset” has led me to try each of the diets that I listed. Thanks for your opinion but it doesn’t address what I was trying to get at. I don’t think a diet has to be as restrictive as the ones provided.

        1. N,

          it could be that these “doctors” you hoped to reach don’t know any more than the rest of us. Including your own intuition.

          Keep searching! (I agree with you about “restrictive” diets.)

  20. N,

    Barb just talked about mindset and what I know is that when you are sick and don’t know what is causing it, I know that it is so much harder to know what to do and it is harder to keep the proper mindset.

    As far as taste of food goes, it can be helpful to learn how to add flavor – rather than focusing on how to not eat foods certain ways.

    When I started, I didn’t like salad unless I had a lot of cheese and high-fat dressings and croutons.

    I looked on YouTube for hints of how to succeed and there are so many videos out there and those genuinely helped.

    You might find that after having done an elimination diet – if you have already been eliminating salt and sugar – you might find it easier than you think to do new versions of your favorite foods with less salt and oil and sugar.

    You don’t have to do it perfectly.

    This is a journey for all of us.

    Especially with gut problems, you will want to find those online communities where they have walked it through and be strengthened by them.

    1. Thanks Deb

      I’ve already experienced the diets that I mentioned. I don’t really need a mindset coach. This quite simply isn’t working for me. Thanks again. I should have made it clear that I was hoping to receive a response from someone with qualifications and experience helping others with autoimmunity. I have a professional but was reaching out for more info.

  21. I feel that Gregor is biased incredibly against cannabis from these posts he does IGNORING meta-analysis and years of research done by countless doctors. He instead takes rogue research and touts it as valid. The very thing he has railed against on other topics.

    His credibility is suspect.

  22. I get it. There’s a downside to cannabis use. And why not. However, since this is nutritionfacts.org I would prefer you stick to what we eat. Just saying.

    1. As a doctor, when Dr. Greger finds compelling research that demonstrates a specific lifestyle choice has a detrimental affect on people, then he is not going to keep silent about it.

      1. So is he going to encourage me to use my seatbelt? Of course not. But I have been a supporter of this website because it has to do with nutrition.
        Not necessarily lifestyle choices.

  23. It’s not cannabis killing folks. It simply isn’t. It also appears to be helping with the opioid crisis.

    Processed foods are killing our population, slowly and surely, and with ever-increasing rates.

    That’s still our biggest problem, ever. Godspeed to each and every one of us who is trying to help others learn and change and survive, especially those with large followings and influence.

    Don’t get lost chasing the wrong ball.

  24. What about edibles vs. smoking? The research you cite refers to smoking cannabis. Does the combustion process and creation of reactive oxidative species have any impact on bone density? I would love to see information comparing the effects of cannabis smoking vs. oral consumption.

  25. It could be that the elements created by burning the material whether weed or tobacco Create the negative effects on the body. Let’s be fair and look at studies on people who eat the cannabis or it’s oils. Well Dr?

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