Can medical marijuana help people with diabetes?

Many people in the United States and other countries in the world use medical marijuana, or cannabis mostly for  recreational purposes, but the chemical  compounds in marijuana show promise for medicinal use and clinical tests suggest  marijuana have potential as an alternative treatment for diabetes.  Diabetes is a chronic condition that is triggered by blood sugar regulation and can result to dangerous complications such as problems with nervous system, heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. This article tries to look at how the medicinal properties of cannabis can benefit people living with diabetes by alleviating some of the symptoms of this condition.

 A research work published by an advocacy group known as the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) outlined the medical benefits of cannabis  in people with diabetes which include:stabilizing blood sugar levels, lowering arterial inflammation due to its antioxidant properties, reducing neuropathic pain, a complication of diabetes, keeping blood vessels open, which may reduce blood pressure over time and improve circulation, providing relief from muscle cramps, relieving gastrointestinal pain and cramping

What is medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana or cannabis as it is commonly called refers to the use of the whole, unprocessed cannabis plant or its extracts to treat certain health conditions.

In June 3018 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved just one product containing marijuana extracts known as Epidiolex, which containing CBD, to be safe and effective for treating of epilepsy syndrome consisting of  Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Some other three drugs containing a synthetic form of THC are also available on prescription for treating various health conditions. It shouldbe noted that the cannabis plant contains more than 100 chemical compound known as cannabinoids. They are called cannabinoids because they have chemical links to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical in cannabis that produces its “high.” However researchers have mostly focused on THC and cannabidiol (CBD) among the hundred cannabinoids imbedded in marijuana. CBD is not a psychoactive chemical as it does not produce a “high,” but it has several medicinal uses. It should be noted that Cannabinoids interact with receptors in the central nervous system of the body thus affecting several processes in the brain and nervous system, such as:mood, pain, memory, coordination, appetite

Researchers equally suggest that some cannabinoids, including CBD also possess anti-inflammatory properties. The effects of Marijuana on the body  are produced by interacting with the cannabinoid receptors, which form part of the endocannabinoid which is composed of  some cannabinoids naturally created by the body.

The endocannabinoid system  cannabinoid receptors play a role in regulation of:energy balance, appetite, insulin sensitivity, pancreatic cell function, metabolism of lipidsIt should also be noted that the various cannabinoids all have different properties, which render them useful for treating a range of health conditions.

How does marijuana help diabetic patients?

Clinical studies suggest that Medical marijuana may offer a lot of benefits for people with diabetes. These include

–       Marijuana ingestions results in smaller waist size and lower risk of obesity: overweight or obesity is one of the most significant risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes. Researches carry out so far have proven that marijuana may help reduce the risk of obesity, which obviously decrease a person’s likelihood of diabetes in turn. A clinical study was conducted in 2013 study on 4,657 people, including 579 current marijuana users and 1,975 past users, and an association between smaller waist size and marijuana use as people who were still smoking marijuana at the time of the study had a waist circumference that was 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) less than that of people who were not smoking it. Some earlier studies , also revealed a lower occurrence of obesity among people who used marijuana than among non users.

–       Marijuana Increases insulin sensitivity: insulin is very important for the body and the ability of the body to use insulin effectively is vital for health. However, patients with type 2 diabetes experience   less sensitivity of the body to the effects of insulin, rendering them less responsive to this hormone. Medical research has revealed that cannabis users may have increased insulin sensitivity.

In a large clinical test, investigators observed that the fasting insulin levels of users were 16 percent lower than those of both former users and nonusers of marijuana an equally that levels of insulin resistance among this group were also 17 percent lower on average.

Another study conducted in 2016  on people with type 2 diabetes who were not taking insulin, indicated that a form of the cannabinoid THC experienced a significant drop in fasting blood glucose, improved production of insulin, raised levels of adiponectin, a protein that regulates    blood sugar.  A 2014 research discovered that that a topical marijuana treatment that combined CBD and THC reduced symptoms of peripheral neuropathic pain in patients. For those who hate smoking cannabinoids can be applied using a spray directly to their hands and feet to reduce the pain and tingling sensations which are all symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.

–        Cannabis also has anti-inflammatory properties: Inflammation if one of the main causes of the development of types 1 and 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. A research conducted in 2015  suggested that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD have the capability of treating the inflammation that triggers diabetes and some of its associated complications.

–        Marijuana protects the body against retinopathy: According to the National Eye Institute diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss in people living with diabetes and it is also the most common cause of blindness in adults of working age. Clinical studies on marijuana suggest that 1 to 4 weeks of CBD treatment can provide significant protection from diabetic retinopathy.

Marijuana also helps in the Management of neuropathy pain

Diabetic neuropathy is a form of nerve damage that occurs most often in the legs and feet though it also  develop in other parts of the body and  is often extremely painful, and it can be fatal in some cases.  A study was conducted in 2015 involving people with neuropathic foot pain revealed  that inhaling marijuana can provide several hours of relief from diabetic neuropathic pain and it was also noted that higher doses of THC provided greater pain relief.


In the end, the success of marijuana as an effective treatment for diabetes may not only lay in the efficacy of the plant. Medical acceptance and use of treatments all comes down to the money in the end and it is advisable to  purchase the right marijuana products from a reputable supplier and check with a doctor first to ensure that they are safe to use.

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