Cannabis for the Treatment of Diabetes

Photo Credit: Whaxy

Photo Credit: Whaxy

Those who suffer from diabetes constantly have to watch what they eat and check their blood sugar levels. This is because diabetes, also known as hyperglycemia, is a disease in which the body cannot process food into energy use properly, so blood glucose levels rise higher than normal. Whaxy lists the symptoms of diabetes as "chronic fatigue, frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, extremem hunger, sudden vision changes, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, very dry skin, sores that are slow to heal, and more infections than usual." When diabetes advances, it can precede heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes can also be fatal, and approximately 76,000 Americans die from diabetes annually, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Diabetes is categorized as either Type 1 or Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is only responsible for 5% of all cases of diabetes, and only afflicts children and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is much more common, and those who develop Type 2 diabetes suffer from insulin resistance in which they cannot use insulin properly. Metabolic syndrome is a variety of Type 2 diabetes resulting from the combination of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. This syndrome increases risks of developing heart disease or undergoing a stroke.

In 2005, the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis published a research paper detailing the ways in which cannabis can help diabetic patients. Some of the benefits include cannabis' ability to "stabilize blood sugars, act as an anti-inflammatory, act as a vasodilator, lower blood pressure, relieve neuropathic pain and tingling, relieve restless leg syndrome, and improve sleep." Some diabetics develop something called diabetic retinopathy which can result in blindness. It is believed cannabis can significantly decrease eye pressure, and therefore relieve the symptoms of this condition. In addition, cannabis' anti-inflammatory properties can relieve arterial inflammation found in many diabetics.

Research published by GW Pharmaceuticals in England in 2012 revealed the cannabinoid THCV was able to increase sensitivity to insulin and protect cells that make insulin in animals. In addition, THCV and CBD were able to boost the animals' metabolism in order to reduce fat in their livers and cholesterol. Both of these effects would be highly beneficial in for diabetics who need to regulate their insulin and maintain healthy body weight. 

While many conventional pharmaceuticals adequately relieve the symptoms of diabetes, many also pose the risk of negative side effects like suppression of the immune system, or liver and kidney damage. Because cannabis offers symptom relief to diabetics without these negative side effects, the plant is worth further investigating. Read more about cannabis for the treatment of diabetes on Whaxy