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vendredi 17 mai 2013



The beautiful island of Jamaica in the West Indies is visited by millions of tourists each year, most of them coming on package holidays from USA or Canada and to a lesser degree from Europe.
Too few of them are lucky to meet or become acquainted with the philosophy of Rastafarians…but take home the erroneous belief that it has something to do with smoking Ganja. the name for the good quality Marijuana grown in Jamaica, in local speak.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to the philosophy of Rasta, during my sojourn in Jamaica and had great respect for its practitioners, who were from all walks of life and socioeconomic strata. It is a philosophy of life, much like Yoga Philosophy, of harmony with nature and inner self, practising a non-violent way of life. Most religions have rituals, whether it is vegetarianism or idol worship or chewing peyote or smoking Ganja, which are just small parts of the overall belief systems. Remember, Alcohol is considered a drug and banned in certain places, is part of the social milieu in another, and central in some religious ceremonies.

So all those good memories came rushing back when I read a scientific article published and publicized in the USA just this week.
Especially of interest to an Endocrinologist!
Current Ganja (I prefer this term to the sterile Cannabis) smokers were found to have lower levels of Fasting Insulin levels and were less likely to be Insulin Resistant than non-smokers.
Insulin resistance is a hallmark of Obesity, Pre Diabetes and Diabetes.
HDL cholesterol is a “good” form of cholesterol that protects you from heart disease and pharmaceutical companies have been trying various drugs and combinations of drugs to market. Since a majority of the westerners have lower levels of this cholesterol and thus “susceptible” to heart disease. But so far they have not been able to…or failed in their attempts. Obviously they have been looking at the wrong places.

Ganja users in general were less overweight and also had higher HDL cholesterol levels in this study, published in the American Journal of Medicine on May 16, 2013
Previously it had been noted that regular Ganja users had less obesity and Diabetes but this was the first study to investigate the relationship between Ganja use and Fasting Insulin, Glucose and Insulin Resistance.
There are an estimated 17.4 million current users of Ganja in the USA of whom 4.6 million are regular users.
As an anthropologist I would add yet another dimension to this.
Stress through its hormonal effects increases insulin resistance and chronic stress releases hormones, which can cause Diabetes. Ganja use either in context as in Jamaica or in social usage as in the Western countries, may decrease these hormones and their damaging side effects.

This adds yet another Explanatory Model to our world of doctor patient relationships:
No, Police Officer, I was just trying to reduce my chances of getting Diabetes. You Know, both my father and mother have Diabetes and the doctors tell me I have to do every thing to prevent getting it!