muscles and marijuana cover

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Do the two go together?

Can you build muscle and lose body fat faster by ingesting this herb, or does it halt your fitness gains?

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Research studies finally provide the answers—at least to the point we feel comfy talking about it and making some recommendations.

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The argumentalbeit a friendly one—has been discussed on thousands of online forums, backstage at bodybuilding shows, and in countless gyms across the world. The problem has been that, if you want marijuana to be great or at least have no bad effects, you could quote a few studies. If you are against THC, you could also quote others that claim Mary Jane damages your ability to get the gains you are working so hard for.

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So, what’s the answer? It really comes down to the age-old adage used by formulators and chemists around the world,

“The dose makes the poison.”

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To determine the unbiased answer, we must look at the amount smoked, how often, and which body system is affected that is the most important for muscle gain and fat loss. That system is the endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for our hormones, including testosterone. 

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endocrine system

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For a quick review, the major glands of the endocrine system are the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pineal body, and the reproductive organs (ovaries and testes). The pancreas is also a part of this system; it has a role in hormone production.

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When looking at the studies, it has been shown that THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) can potentially be an endocrine disruptor in humans and animals, since it blocks GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) secretion. This leads to a lower LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) production, which essentially means lower testosterone.1

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A published study theorized that marijuana inhibits testosterone due to the GnRH-blocking effects of THC.2 GnRH is what triggers the production of testosterone. It is produced in the hypothalamus and makes its way to the pituitary gland where it stimulates the production of LH and FSH, the precursors for testosterone.

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The study cited above supports this theory. When the marijuana smokers were administered with hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), their testosterone levels elevated towards normal. 

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Lower testosterone means a huge reduction in your ability to build and shape muscle and also the ability to burn unwanted body fat. THC has also been shown to inhibit several testicular enzymes needed in testosterone production in-vitro in males. Women can lower their testosterone levels as well by smoking too much cannabis because of the estrogen factors.

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trouble building muscle

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When you look at the studies, there is no argument from either side when it comes to chronic marijuana consumption lowering testosterone. If you regularly partake in marijuana consumption, yowill have lower testosterone levels.3

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Lower T guarantees muscle loss, or at least the inability to build it like you want. Halting your testosterone production also guarantees your body does not burn as much fat.

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The simple answer is to not indulge in cannabis consumption, but not all fitness enthusiasts want to completely give up this herb.

So, what IS the dose you can take before it poisons your anabolic gains?

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A simple way to explain the problem is to think of a single cell.

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 There are trillions of cells in your body. Each one is like a microcosm of your entire body. If the cell is healthy, you will eventually be healthy. If it is extremely damaged, like in the case of cancer, it replicates with a vengeance and eventually affects your entire health.

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healthy and chronic use of marijuana blood cells

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When you consume marijuana in any form, it will eventually hurt testosterone production but straight up smoking it will speed things up because it starts to cloud the cells with a smokey purple haze (okay, maybe just a haze). It’s like driving in fog. Things move slower. 

One study found that marijuana induces just as much cell toxicity and DNA damage as cigarette smoke.4 So, for starters, if you smoke anything, your gains will eventually be hindered (see picture above).

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Looking at many studies is called a meta analysis. A group did a meta analysis and, "A reanalysis of existing data established that testosterone levels are depressed both after smoking one marijuana cigarette and after intravenous infusion of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a pharmacologically active component of marijuana”.5 The same study concluded that it would take at least 24 hours for testosterone levels to normalize after marijuana use. So again, it just isn’t the smoke. Even when that is eliminated in edibles or vaping, there are still problems.

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Another factor with cannabis is its effects on nitric oxide, a chemical that helps increase blood flow and performance. A specific study showed marijuana affected nitric oxide and said, “We conclude that early endothelial damage may be induced by chronic cannabis use (and endocannabinoid system activation).”6 In other words, the happy weed may not make you so happy long term. It may hinder your blood flow, which will affect your performance in the gym, muscle growth, fat loss, and even sex life.

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Looking at the studies on dosages that affect testosterone and other endocrine concerns can be a bit sketchy, but here is what we have concluded. Without boring you with too much data but wanting to make sure you know how we came up with our recommendations, here are a few of the many studies and numbers we pored over:

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hormones

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An intravenous infusion of 10mg of THC over 50 minutes showed a time-dependent decrease in testosterone. When compared to the control group, the subjects had 36% lower testosterone levels. In the same experiment, a separate group of subjects smoked marijuana. Their testosterone level dropped to 66% of their baseline value.7

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Four healthy male volunteers were brought into a lab and assessed for hormonal concentrations before and after smoking marijuana cigarettes containing 2.8% THC. After smoking, a significant reduction in LH (a precursor for testosterone) was noted, while FSH (another precursor for testosterone) and testosterone levels were only slightly suppressed.8 

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We could get into the amount of THC per dose and get so technical you would want some to just relax your brain, but here is the simple breakdown based on a 10mg THC dose (this is what Colorado calls a "dose").

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THC dose comparison

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the answer

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There is no doubt that there will be a debate about what “smoking” or “consuming THC” means but we are going off of the average person smoking a half-gram's joint’s equivalent and the same goes for THC intake of 10mg. Although this can vary, you get the hint. 

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If you are a competitor, you need to look at the rules of your organization also whether it be bodybuilding, powerlifting etc. If it is drug-tested, you need to see if they test for THC or just straight up steroids. Organizations that test Olympic style through WADA (World Anti-Doping Association) include THC in their tests, so cannabis is a definite no-go.

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know the rules

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The bottom line:

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We do not want to make it sound like we are taking sides. This a personal choice and legal in some shape or form (prescription/non-prescription) in most states. It’s just a topic we’ve received questions on over the years, and more frequently month after month.

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Is there something you can do to cleanse your body quicker after taking cannabis? The answer, based on the research, is YES. 

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Herbs like milk thistle, dandelion and barberry have all been proven to cleanse and fortify the liver and kidneys, which are your filters for toxins. Studies done on toxin buildup like AST and ALT show that consuming a highly absorbable form of nutrients can quickly reduce the effects of toxin build up. 

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The Liv Clean formula from Gains In Bulk  is the only predigested formula on the market that is used daily to help lower toxin buildup, as seen through blood tests. This is not a formula to take and say you will be ok with excessive cannabis intake. The effects will still happen. You will just be able to clear the cellular fog faster by taking 1-2 capsules daily.

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B vitamins, especially niacin, have long been known as THC cleansers. PCT Flush has the most absorbable and potent whole food niacin available. Take 2-4 capsules based on how much flush you can handle.

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To finish, we will answer the question as to the recommended supplements for those who casually smoke.

1-2 Liv Clean a day for consistent cleansing and fortification of liver and kidneys.

2 Test Gains (1 morning and night) to keep testosterone levels flowing for men and women.

2-3 N.O. Chews before workouts to keep endothelial lining flexible (guard against damage) and to produce nitric oxide.

2-4 capsules of PCT Flush 1-2 times a day if needed to flush out THC (don't take at night).


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products

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EXTRA THOUGHTS

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Have you ever wondered about the effects of marijuana and your sex life? You will absolutely “trip out” on what we discovered. There is actually certain levels of consumption that improve men’s and ESPECIALLY women’s desire and satisfaction, and levels that completely tank them. Talk about “the dose makes the poison.” We will take down this topic in part 2 of Marijuana and Muscle. Part 3 will focus on the CBD component and whether or not it benefits muscle and fat reduction.

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                 REFERENCES:

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  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3016764 
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