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Examining The Connection Between Cannabis and Diabetes Management

Cannabis and Diabetes

Diabetes and cannabis. Those are not two words you often see together. That appears to be about to change, though. Studies investigating the effects of cannabis components on diabetes markers have begun. Research has also looked into the possible connection between cannabis use and diabetes risk. What is the conclusion then?

What information is essential to know about marijuana and diabetes? Does cannabis reduce blood sugar? Can someone with diabetes smoke marijuana? Are edibles without sugar a better choice? Below, we’ll delve into these and other queries. We’ll start by discussing diabetes in general and its effects on the body. Next, we will review the literature on the potential effects of cannabis on the illness.

It’s always advisable to speak with a medical marijuana doctor before beginning a cannabis regimen to treat Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. A medical marijuana practitioner can advise you on how to use marijuana safely and educate you on the benefits and drawbacks of the drug, as well as the laws governing it in your state. 

What Is Diabetes?

Your body wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning without carbs, just as your car wouldn’t get out of the driveway without fuel (though the body can function fairly well on fat and ketones—that’s a whole other story). Our bodies are excellent at converting carbohydrates from food into simple glucose molecules, which are then transported into our cells where they serve as an essential source of energy.

The pancreas, an organ located directly behind the stomach, is what our body uses to do this work. In reaction to glucose, this gland secretes the hormone insulin. This molecule functions as a “key” to the body’s cells, transferring glucose from the circulation into the different cells.

This process normally maintains our blood sugar levels stable and our cells energetic. But when it comes to diabetes, a physiological disorder in which the body either cannot utilize the insulin it does produce correctly or cannot produce enough of it, things go wrong. High blood glucose levels consequently get trapped in the circulation. Diabetes causes temporary symptoms like increased thirst and frequent urination, but over time, it can lead to more serious health issues like kidney and heart damage.

Worldwide, there are currently over 500 million adults who have diabetes, and estimates indicate that number will rise to nearly 800 million by 2045. Diabetes is a serious global health concern. This group is afflicted by two forms of diabetes. Find out how they differ below.

Type 1 Diabetes

It is a genetic condition rather than a result of lifestyle choices that causes type 1 diabetes. Type 1 typically manifests itself earlier in life as a result. It is a form of autoimmune disease that arises from the immune system attacking the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

The pancreas is unable to produce insulin as a result of this self-inflicted damage, and it is also unable to react to blood glucose levels properly. There is presently no treatment for this physiological attack on the body, and scientists are still unsure of what triggers it. Insulin is used by people with type 1 diabetes to help regulate their blood sugar levels.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes affects the vast majority of patients, with type 1 diabetes affecting only 8% of them. Type 2 diabetes is more likely to occur in people with genetic predispositions, but lifestyle factors like obesity can significantly raise the risk; fat tissue makes body cells less sensitive to insulin.

Insulin resistance is the initial condition associated with this type of diabetes. Because of poor insulin sensitivity in the muscles, liver, and fat cells, elevated blood glucose levels persist in this situation. In an effort to store the extra glucose, the pancreas responds by producing more insulin. The pancreas eventually becomes exhausted from its increased activity and finds it difficult to produce the necessary hormone. This type of the condition is managed with medication, exercise, diet, and insulin, though there is no known cure.

The Impact of Diabetes on the Body

Diabetes affects the body in many different ways. There are two types of symptoms: acute, or short-term, and chronic, or long-term. First, let’s examine the acute signs and symptoms of diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision

Diabetes over time may cause long-term consequences and symptoms like:

  • Heart disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Eye damage
  • Limp damage leading to amputation
  • Skin issues
  • Hearing problems
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression

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Cannabis and Diabetes

Cannabis has begun to shed its reputation as a drug that should be avoided and is now a highly sought-after topic for medical researchers. Many years ago, when examining the constituents of this intriguing plant, scientists found the endocannabinoid system (ECS). By doing this, they were able to reveal a portion of the precise mechanism by which certain plant components can affect human physiology.

Researchers are currently testing compounds known as cannabinoids—which interact with the central nervous system—against a variety of illnesses, including diabetes. Before we look at some research on the topic, we must understand the ECS. Gaining more knowledge about this system will enable you to comprehend the connection between marijuana and diabetes

If you live in Long Beach and are considering adding cannabis to your medical regimen, you will need a medical marijuana card that will allow you to legally obtain medical marijuana. By completing a five-minute form on our website, you can quickly and conveniently apply for your medical marijuana card online from the comfort of your home. 

The Link Between Cannabis Consumption and Diabetes

Can cannabis aid in diabetes prevention or management? Because there haven’t been enough controlled human trials, we don’t yet know the answers to those important questions. Nonetheless, epidemiological information has contributed to the understanding of the potential benefits of cannabis for diabetics.

A 2013 study that was published in The American Journal of Medicine looks at the relationship between regular cannabis use and some of the health factors related to managing diabetes. Self-reported data from a survey of 4,657 patients indicates that compared to non-users, cannabis users had significantly lower fasting insulin levels and a lower likelihood of insulin resistance. Additionally, the researchers found that both current and former users had smaller waist circumferences and lower glucose levels.

The same study points out that earlier research has also shown reduced rates of diabetes and obesity in cannabis users, which implies cannabinoids may be able to positively alter metabolic processes.

Preclinical studies have attempted to ascertain whether cannabis constituents could aid in the management of diabetes symptoms and the prevention of the condition altogether, even though controlled human trials have not corroborated these findings. There are more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and two of them have gained attention in studies on diabetes.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), a homologue of THC, has a molecular structure resembling that of the main psychotropic cannabinoid. But unlike THC, which has a 5-carbon side chain, THCV has a 3-carbon side chain, which results in distinct physiological effects. Although THCV is a selective agonist of the ECS’s CB1 receptors, it only becomes psychoactive at higher dosages. The goal of early cannabinoid-focused animal research on THCV was to determine how it affected appetite, energy metabolism, weight loss, and type 2 diabetes management.

CBD and Diabetes

As far as cannabis research goes, CBD is among the most promising. This includes research on diabetes. Because CBD doesn’t get psychedelic at any dosage like THC and THCV do, it’s better suited for a wider range of patients.

Diabetes is largely associated with inflammation, and further research attempts to delve deeper into these pathways. Thus far, a plethora of preclinical studies have pitted the cannabinoid against diabetes models to determine whether it reduces incidence, provides neuroprotective effects, or aids in preventing autoimmunity linked to type 1 diabetes. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem evaluated the anti-inflammatory potential of CBD in a study conducted in 2015. According to their findings, future studies should focus on determining whether and how CBD affects immune response in relation to diabetes and metabolism.

Potential Dangers of Cannabis Consumption for Individuals with Diabetes

Can someone with diabetes smoke marijuana? Although preliminary epidemiological data present a favorable image, there are certain hazards. First of all, anyone who has used cannabis knows how it stimulates appetite and frequently leads users to seek out foods high in sugar. Furthermore, not all research has produced encouraging outcomes. Cannabis use was linked to poor self-management behaviors in type 1 diabetics and an increased risk of peripheral arterial occlusion, heart attack, and kidney diseases in type 2 diabetics, according to a 2020 review of the available data.

Case reports regarding CBD indicate that the cannabinoid does not seem to worsen diabetes control or cause harm. On the other hand, taking CBD along with the diabetes medication metformin may make stomach upset more likely.

Edibles for Diabetics

How about diabetic edibles? Although sugar-free edibles aren’t specifically designed for diabetics, they are more likely to appeal to them. Many diabetic patients choose low-GI foods as snacks in order to prevent a spike in blood sugar levels. Fortunately for them, a variety of sugar-free edibles, such as chocolate, candies, crackers, coffee, and tea, are available in areas where it is legal.

The Future Outlook for Cannabis and Diabetes 

Preclinical data currently available indicates early promise. To confirm the precise effects of cannabis on insulin, blood glucose, appetite, body weight, and other biological markers linked to diabetes, carefully monitored human trials are necessary.

Furthermore, when it comes to evaluating cannabinoid components against models of the illness, researchers have hardly begun. For this reason, anyone with diabetes who wishes to use cannabis or incorporate it into their life should speak with their doctor about the safest methods to do so.