Diabetes and Cannabis
Diabetes type 1 and type 2 is a complicated disease and not well understood, but the way it affects the body is well known. The disease is caused by irregularities within the body’s ability to produce and regulate insulin. Insulin is a hormone manufactured by the pancreas to regulate and process blood sugar metabolism.
Most diabetics require replacement therapy for the insulin that their body is not producing or utilizing properly, and there is a need for insulin injections to regulate the blood glucose in type 1, and to control the metabolism of food and energy needs.
As medical cannabis use becomes widespread in the majority of states, much research needs to be performed in order to determine if cannabis is beneficial in treating this disease or help in treating the side effects of the disease, or as a possible preventive measure. There are millions of diabetic patients worldwide who are suffering from this disease and looking for an alternative therapy to get relief from their symptoms, and to help alleviate the high costs of treatment for this disease. Diabetes is one of the most prevalent and hard to treat diseases worldwide, with over 100 million people in the US alone who are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Worldwide, it is estimated that perhaps 9% of the population have this disease or it’s a precursor. Diabetes can contribute to an early death, as well as kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, neuropathic pain, and foot and leg issues. Many diabetics suffer from diabetic neuropathy mainly affecting their lower limbs and feet, and this causes infections, amputations, and burning or tingling pain that radiates from their feet and limbs.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the total cost of treating diabetes is around $327 billion per year and is a leading medical expense in the US for all diseases. Because of the high cost and prevalence of this disease many studies are now being performed to examine the role that cannabis may play in aiding those with the disease. One large study not yet completed is on the island nation of Vanuatu where the disease occurrence is quite high, with diabetes affecting a large percent of the population. A new cannabis diabetic drug is being clinically tested there which is produced by Phoenix Life Sciences International, in hopes of discovering more about this disease and possible treatment alternatives. Other studies in the US have shown mixed results concerning the use of cannabis for diabetics, but certain trends are emerging and the possible benefits may soon be clear with additional research. A major study in 2012 indicated a 58% reduced risk of developing diabetes with marijuana use, while a 2016 study by the Journal of Diabetes research showed no correlation between cannabis use and diabetes.
The Diabetes Council, an on-line medical and media resource for diabetics has determined that the chief mechanism of action for cannabis in diabetes relies on the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids. Some studies suggest that the use of cannabis can stabilize blood sugar levels, prevent nerve inflammation, lower and dilate blood vessels, and improve circulation. CBD has been shown in a few studies to reduce the occurrence and delay the onset of the disease, while THC has been shown to suppress the auto-immune response, and reducing the amount of insulin required during treatment. Some studies also indicate a reduced BMI (body mass index) for cannabis consumers compared to those who do not use cannabis. However, because of its stimulation of appetite, some cannabis users consume foods that are high in glucose and their diet regime is comprised of increased eating of junk foods, and unhealthy type foods that are contraindicated in this disease! Perhaps a strain of cannabis high in THCV would be beneficial here as this cannabinoid generally suppresses the appetite (i.e. Durban Poison strain).
Some possible benefits of using cannabis can be:
*Reduction in diabetic neuropathic pain, chiefly in the arms and legs specifically.
*Anti-spasmodic effect that can relieve muscle pain and cramping and GI issues.
*Vasodilator effect which can improve tissue oxygenation and improve blood circulation.
*Reduction in diabetic “restless leg syndrome”
*Possible interference and regulation of insulin sensitivity to require fewer or less injections and lower doses.
*Enhancement of sleep, with less wakefulness caused by pain, cramping, or digestive irritation.