The Science On How Cannabis Could Help Diabetes Patients
Weed's role as a natural painkiller without the addictive properties of opioids is well-known, as is cannabidiol's helpfulness in combating seizures and anxiety.
Now, the drug is being studied in diabetes patients, and the results are positive so far.
Living With Diabetes
Diabetes is a serious illness that affects more than 30 million people in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association. Over 84 million Americans have a condition called prediabetes, in which blood glucose levels are elevated but not high enough to for a diabetes diagnosis. People with prediabetes are at a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.
While it is manageable, diabetes is a serious condition and contributes to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, blood vessel issues and vision loss. Foot infections, a common diabetes complication, can end in amputation.
Type 1 diabetes is when a patient’s body doesn’t produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more common and involves the body not responding to insulin as well it should and not developing enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that controls the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein by regulating the absorption of carbohydrates into liver, fat and skeletal muscle cells.
Diabetes can be treated with a healthy diet, exercise, and blood sugar monitoring. Numerous diabetes medications are on the market, including acarbose (Precose), miglitol (Glyset), metformin-glyburide (Glucovance), alogliptin (Nesina), liraglutide (Victoza) and glimepiride (Amaryl).
Chronic Diabetes Pain
One of the more difficult-to-manage symptoms of diabetes is chronic pain due to the condition diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage. If diabetic neuropathy isn't caught early enough, it can result in the amputation of the leg. Diabetes pain is usually treated with either over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen or with prescription opioids such as oxycodone.
More than 2.13 million people use medical marijuana now in the U.S., and it may also help patients living with diabetic neuropathy. A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled crossover study conducted by Mark Wallace and four other doctors and published in 2015 included 16 patients who were inhaling cannabis. The study showed evidence that cannabis could have an analgesic effect on diabetic neuropathy pain.
Marijuana For Diabetes Prevention, Treatment?
Multiple studies suggest that people who use marijuana are at lower risk of a diabetes diagnosis in the first place.
For example, in a study conducted by Tripathi Rajavashisth and published in BMJ Open in 2012, it was discovered that consumers of marijuana had a lower age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes than non-users.
A study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2013 found that current marijuana users had 16-percent lower fasting insulin levels. Cannabis consumption was associated with smaller waist circumference in the study.
Similar results were obtained by Yann Le Strat and Bernard Le Foll, who analyzed cross-sectional data on two population-based, nationally representative samples. The results of their study were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2011. Le Strat and Le Foll discovered that obesity was significantly lower among cannabis users than in non-users.
CBD has shown some interesting results in diabetes treatment.
Mohanraj Rajesh conducted a study of the effects of CBD on “myocardial dysfunction, inflammation, oxidative/nitrative stress, cell death and interrelated signaling pathways.” The results showed that CBD can have “great therapeutic potential in the treatment of diabetic complications, and perhaps other cardiovascular disorders.”
In addition to scientific studies, there is research underway that could potentially result in a cannabis-based treatment for diabetes. The research is being conducted by Phoenix Life Sciences International, which has recently been awarded a contract by the government of the Republic of Vanuatu.
© 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.