The Health Benefits of Using Cannabis for Diabetes
With the increasing legalization in the U.S. of marijuana, or cannabis, as both a medical and recreational drug, more people are coming to realize the benefits it holds, especially for those with certain ailments. Diabetes, in particular, affects untold millions of people around the world, with approximately 100 million people living with the disease in the U.S. alone.
Diabetes is one of the most prevalent and hard to treat diseases we face today. This chronic condition affects blood sugar regulation that can lead to more serious complications in the nervous system, blood vessels, kidneys, and heart. Those affected are looking for relief from not only the symptoms, but the high costs of healthcare associated with its treatment. Consequently, there is a dire need for solutions to help prevent and treat symptoms without the inflated costs associated with the U.S. pharmaceutical industries.
Cannabis as a Viable Alternative
But does cannabis have the potential as an alternative solution for the treatment of diabetes? While it contains various chemicals, namely tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive chemical, it also contains tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabidiol (CBD) which have proven to promote blood sugar control and metabolism.
According to the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC), studies have shown that medical marijuana use might have the following benefits for those with diabetes:
- More stable levels of blood sugar
- Lower arterial inflammation due to the antioxidant properties of cannabis
- A reduction of neuropathic pain (a complication of diabetes)
- Reduction of blood pressure and improved circulation over time
- Relief from muscle cramps
- Relief from gastrointestinal (GI) pain and cramping
- Use as a topical cream to relieve tingling in the hands and feet
Though research into the positive effects of marijuana is still ongoing, there are a few possible side effects that have been experienced:
- Increased insulin sensitivity (the body needs to use insulin effectively for optimal health)
- Negative effects on the metabolic system
- Appetite changes, causing weight gain
- Low blood sugar from too much insulin and not enough glucose
- Increased pulse rate
- Occasional dizzy spells
- Problems with memory, concentration and coordinated movement
Still, for years doctors have been prescribing cannabis with varying levels of THCV and CBD to patients with diabetes, with very good results. Treatments are usually in the form of oils, pills, and capsules. In certain circumstances, smoking cannabis has been prescribed, although many doctors tend to shy away from this, due to adverse effects on the lungs.
While the research investigating the relationship between marijuana use and diabetes has shown good results, there has yet to be large-scale testing showing definitive links between diabetes treatments and marijuana. The jury is still out.
A recent study in 2016 published in the Journal of Diabetes Research found no correlation between cannabis use and diabetes. On the flip side, according to The Diabetes Council, the correlations between marijuana and the treatment of both Type I and Type II diabetes acknowledges there is a solid anti-inflammatory capability of cannabinoids, which does help alleviate symptoms.
While many of those suffering from the disease swear by the positive effects of cannabis use, more testing needs to be done to confirm its widespread use as a viable treatment for diabetes.