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Cannabis and Diabetes

In 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes. Worldwide, the numbers are even more staggering with approximately 387 million people have diabetes according to the International Diabetes Federation. In the United States, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death. Unfortunately, it has been estimated that nearly 80% of all Type 2 Diabetes cases could be prevented through weight management.

What Defines Diabetes?

In a healthy person, the body turns the foods you eat into sugar, or glucose, for energy. The pancreas releases insulin, which essentially unlocks cells so the glucose can enter. In diabetics, this system does not work causing too much sugar to build up in the blood stream which causes debilitating complications including:

  • Diabetics are 2-6 times more likely to develop diseases of the arteries, including coronary artery disease and stroke.
  • Nearly half of diabetes patients will suffer from retinopathy, a disease of the retina which results in vision impairment and even blindness
  • Approximately 30% of diabetics will experience kidney damage or failure, and diabetes accounts for 50% of all kidney transplants in the US.
  • Diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, accounts for nearly 60% of all leg amputations.

There are two forms of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes: Also known as “juvenile diabetes” as it generally develops early in life. This form of diabetes is an autoimmune disease which signals the body’s own immune system to attack the pancreas. This onslaught causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin all together and patients must supplement with injections of insulin. However, dosing can be tricky as too much insulin can cause blood sugars to drop to dangerously low levels, while not enough will result in hyperglycemia, or too much blood sugar; either of which can lead to deadly complications.

Type 2 Diabetes: This form typically develops after age 35, and many times is the result of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. With type 2 diabetes, patients may produce some insulin, but usually not enough, and cells While diet and exercise can effectively treat the disease, many times oral medications may be prescribed to help.

Complications of diabetes are debilitating, unmanaged, it even leads to death.

Cannabinoid Therapy for Diabetes

Research over the last couple of decades has started to show how cannabis, specifically the cannabinoids contained within the plant, may be the future of treating diabetes.

Weight Loss

Despite the appetite inducing effects well-known as the “munchies” commonly induced by consuming marijuana products, studies are emerging which show this increase in calorie intake has little impact on weight or BMI. A study from 2016 published by International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation showed marijuana users had lower body mass index than those who have never consumed.

Lower Resting Insulin and Insulin Resistance

Another study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2013 surveyed more than 4,600 diabetes patients. 579 reported being current marijuana users, while 1,975 admitted to being past users of marijuana. Those who reported current marijuana use averaged 16% lower fasting insulin levels than those who did not consume. In addition, tests showed 17% reduction in insulin resistance in those who were consuming marijuana.

Combats Auto-Immune Disorders

Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disorder, meaning the immune system attacks the pancreas. However, as the Diabetes Council reports on their website, research is showing potential for CBD to save insulin-forming cells from damage, as well as, reverse the auto-immune disease in lab mice.
Neuropathy, or Nerve Damage

Diabetes is well-known for its ability to cause nerve damage. Between 60-70% of diabetics deal with some form of neuropathic pain. Cannabis, on the other hand, is well-known for its neuroprotective capabilities. The US government holds Patent #6630507 which declares cannabinoids as effective antioxidants and neuroprotectants which can treat a plethora of disorders. The anti-inflammatory effects of medical marijuana also help ease symptoms and quiet pain.

Diabetes, and the associated symptoms, can be debilitating, life-changing disease. Yet, with more research in the legal cannabis industry, there may be hope to end the disease. If you’re struggling with diabetes and want to know more about medical marijuana, don’t hesitate to contact our office today to set up your consultation with one of our qualified physicians.