Marijuana Has Great Potential in Treating Diabetes

Marijuana Has Great Potential in Treating Diabetes

There are hundreds of millions of people worldwide who suffer from diabetes. This is a chronic metabolic disease caused either by inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin or by the inability to use the insulin properly. It is vitally important to start treatment on time, otherwise the disease can cause many complications and may be fatal.

Six years ago, there were registered more than 246 million people with diabetes. Only in the U.S., on average, 1.7 million new cases of diabetes are registered every year; the total number of diabetes patients is predicted to be around 48.3 million by 2050. The numbers are troubling, so let us have a closer look at that disease.

What diabetes actually is

What diabetes actually is

Insulin is a hormone that helps control the glucose level in blood. After your meal, the glucose level in your body increases, and insulin makes the beta-cells either store sugar for later (as fat) or convert it directly into energy. When you do exercises, your blood glucose level decreases, so insulin pushes the stored sugars to be converted into energy.

There are two types of diabetes. Type one is caused by wrong functioning of the immune system that mistakenly attacks pancreas’ secretion. This kind of diabetes requires a lifelong insulin therapy and keeping to a special diet. Type two is caused by pancreas’ failure to produce enough insulin or by the inability of the cells to identify insulin. Type two diabetes makes it impossible for sugar to be converted into energy. This is the most common form of diabetes, and it requires medical treatment, physical exercises and controlled diet.

For both types of the disease, the symptoms are quite similar: slow healing wounds and bruises,  vision impairment, fatigue, frequent hunger and thirst, frequent urination, weight loss (type 1). In the untreated cases heart problems, neuropathy, glaucoma, cataracts, and skin disorders can appear.

Marijuana and diabetes studies

Marijuana and diabetes studies

So far, medical cannabis is legal in 24 American states, and it helps thousands of people to alleviate their health problems. We already know the potential of medical marijuana for chronic pain treatment; cannabis is also used as an alternative to chemotherapy and treatment for autism. Though, there are only a few studies so far on the body metabolism-marijuana relationship.

Trying to determine if there is any correlation between the likelihood of diabetes and the use of marijuana, there was a study conducted in 2013 to examine the effects of cannabis consumption on insulin and glucose levels. 4657 people took part in the study, 579 of them were current marijuana users who showed a lower prevalence of diabetes than non-users, lower waist circumference, and what is called “good cholesterol” (higher lever of HDL-C).

Though, because of the health complications diabetes can cause, most of the studies are conducted not on people but  mice. One of these studies aimed to examine the CBD effect on the incidence of the disease. The study found out that CBD has immunosuppressant properties. To know how exactly it can affect immune problems connected with diabetes, more research is required.

Anti-autoimmune properties of CBD allow to protect beta-cells from destruction so the metabolism can function normally. In theory, cannabis allows to reverse the immune response to insulin, so even when the patient stops using cannabis, the positive effect continues.

Marijuana and neuropathy

Marijuana and neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy affects about 20 percent of the people who were diagnosed with diabetes. The available treatments are not sufficient and have severe side effects. At the same time, several studies showed that both natural and synthetic CBD alleviate neuropathic pain. One study was conducted on mice with the chemically-induced disease. In a month, the rodents showed loss of neural sensation. A mixture of THC and CBD given to mice helped mice restore mechanical force and thermal pain perception in the mice’s limbs.

While the research of effects of cannabis on patients with diabetes is still in its early stages, the available data looks quite promising. Further research into the benefits of weed in diabetes treatment is required to be able to draw reliable conclusions.

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