Friday July 19, 2019

By Andrew Ward


According to the American Diabetes Association, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes in 2015. By 2017, findings from the Center for Disease Control reported that more than 100 million Americans had diabetes or pre-diabetes. This growth rate was considered steady by the CDC and was considered a health care burden.

As of 2015, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. What's worse, some don't even know they have the disease. “Although these findings reveal some progress in diabetes management and prevention, there are still too many Americans with diabetes and pre-diabetes,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. in a 2017 press release “More than a third of U.S. adults have pre-diabetes, and the majority don’t know it. Now, more than ever, we must step up our efforts to reduce the burden of this serious disease.”

Cannabis has come up as a possible solution to symptoms of diabetes however, whether scientific evidence backed them or not. Unlike many medical conditions today, diabetes has received a fair amount of studies, allowing us to understand the relationship between cannabis and diabetes better. While additional studies are required before any conclusive findings can be made, here is what we know so far.


How Cannabis May Help with Diabetes

Cannabis has been considered a promising option in diabetes treatment regimens. That said, a lack of substantial testing has kept it from proving itself to be a full-fledged option at this point – even though it may very well be a viable choice for preventing and treating diabetes symptoms. This includes easing pain for diabetes sufferers and lowering the chances of developing the disease for others.

Cannabis may be an effective treatment for symptoms of diabetes. photo credit

Others believe cannabis can help stave off diabetes by lessening the chances of becoming obese. While cannabis is often associated with the munchies and unhealthy snacking, a recent study suggests that cannabis users may actually be less likely to gain weight. Though, again, additional testing is needed. Research from the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) concluded that cannabis can help diabetes patients in a number of ways, including: 

Ways Marijuana Can Help with Diabetes:

  • Stabilizing blood sugar levels  
  • Lessening inflammation   
  • Reducing neuropathic pain   
  • Keeping blood vessels open  
  • Possibly reducing blood pressure over time  
  • Cramp relief   
  • Gastrointestinal pain relief

Those that opt for medical marijuana to treat their diabetes symptoms can consume their medicine in several ways. Most common consumption methods are recommended, including edibles, vaporizers, tinctures, oils and topicals depending on the condition.

Studies on Cannabis and Diabetes

Due to longstanding regulations, most cannabis discussions are unable to rely on lab data to understand the subject. Thankfully, that is not the case with diabetes. Over the years, a wealth of studies have helped us better understand the topic at hand. While additional research is required, numerous findings have allowed us to learn about the relationship between cannabis and diabetes better than most other subjects in the field today.

For example, numerous studies have shown that cannabis can act as a preventative measure. As Project CBD notes, "Several studies have shown that regular cannabis users have a lower body mass index, smaller waist circumferences, and reduced risk of diabetes and obesity." They include a 2011 study that confirmed cannabis users do consume more calories each day but also increases the metabolism of carbohydrates in the body. Research has demonstrated that CBD helps the body convert white fat into weight-reducing brown fat, promoting normal insulin production and sugar metabolism," Project CBD reported.

A 2009 study found that CBD could treat a variety of diabetes-related symptoms, including neuropathy, or the weakness, numbness, and pain from nerve damage.

The study noted, "These findings highlighted the beneficial effects of cannabis extract treatment in attenuating diabetic neuropathic pain, possibly through a strong antioxidant activity and a specific action upon nerve growth factor." Meanwhile, a 2015 study of cannabis smoking and diabetes reported that additional studies were required, but cannabis did provide a stable base of evidence. "Current evidence is too weak for causal inference, but there now is a more stable evidence base for new lines of clinical translational research on a possibly protective (or spurious) CS-DM association suggested in prior research," stated the report.


The Latest News

The need for diabetes relief is still a pressing demand. Hope continues to spread that cannabis could provide a solution to many. One American company aims to find out if cannabis can provide that solution on the island of Vanuatu. The small South Pacific Ocean nation will be the site of the clinical trials for Colorado's Phoenix Life Sciences International.

Phoenix Life CEO and Founder, Martin Tindall, explained his company's efforts on Vanuatu and beyond. "Phoenix Life's primary goal is to create a natural and safe cannabis-based treatment alternative for Type 2 Diabetes and aid people in both developing and developed countries in getting affordable the care they need." Tindall added, "In doing this, the company hopes to raise global awareness for cannabis as a treatment for a variety of other conditions as well. Additionally, Phoenix Life plans to perfect the science of outdoor cannabis cultivation and find the optimal conditions that provide the most efficient cannabis growth for pharmaceutical application."

Tindall also noted that Vanuatu is the first country Phoenix Life intends to hold trials at. No others were listed, but he mentioned that "Phoenix Life hopes to partner with world-renowned doctors and universities to oversee that the research is done in the most ethical and efficient way possible." This is certainly an exciting time for cannabis and diabetes research!

Do you have any experience treating symptoms of diabetes with cannabis? Share your feedback in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Akash Deep (license)

Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

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