Updated on January 3, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t process sugar the way it should. Your insulin, a substance that lets your cells use sugar, either isn’t produced or used properly. Diabetes can have a genetic cause or result from lifestyle choices. Patients experience fatigue, excessive hunger and thirst, vision problems and more.
Cannabis medicine can relieve diabetes symptoms like neuropathy, pain and inflammation. We also have a growing body of evidence showing it can help patients manage the root causes of diabetes. It has the potential to lower fasting glucose levels, insulin resistance and body weight.
Neuropathy is a very uncomfortable symptom to deal with, and many patients with diabetes experience it. When neuropathy causes pain, it makes things even more difficult. So, Wallace et al. wanted to find out if medical cannabis could relieve painful diabetic neuropathy.
The team administered a placebo or a certain dosage of THC to 16 patients. In this crossover study, a patient would get one treatment, then take the other one after a two-week washout period. So, every patient eventually took all dosages throughout four sessions. During these visits, the researchers tested their cognitive functions and pain levels.
The scientists found that higher doses of THC tended to provide a greater amount of pain relief. Each dose, including the placebo, had statistically significant differences in pain reduction from the other treatments. While the patients had some cognitive impairment, the research team emphasized that more data was needed on THC and effects on the mind.
We have plenty of rich data on the U.S. population’s health, as long as we know where to look. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and National Surveys on Drug Use and Health track the health and wellness of people all over the country. Alshaarawy and Anthony used this data to see if there was a connection between smoking marijuana and diabetes.
The researchers took data from eight different sources — one from each national survey for the years 2005-12. They analyzed these statistics independently, treating the samples as their own data sets. By extrapolating from variables like BMI and alcohol/tobacco use, they could estimate the likelihood of a subject having diabetes. Then, they compared that estimate with their reported cannabis use.
They found that cannabis smoking and a diabetes diagnosis had an inverse relationship. In other words, people who smoked marijuana had a lower chance of having diabetes. While this association was a little weak, the researchers considered it a good starting point for further research.
Many patients who have a double diagnosis of HIV and hepatitis C often develop insulin resistance (IR) and diabetes. But, population-based studies have shown that medical marijuana could lower a patient’s risk of IR. To see if we can use cannabis medicine to lower their risk, Carrieri et al. investigated the relationship between their marijuana use and IR.
The team distributed questionnaires to a French national cohort of patients diagnosed with HIV and hepatitis C. These patients answered questions related to their IR risk and past cannabis habits. Carrieri et al. also looked over follow-up data for medical visits involving the HIV/hepatitis C, IR and marijuana use.
A total of 703 patients’ data ended up being included in the study. Regardless of how often a patient used cannabis, they had a lower chance of developing IR than someone who didn’t use any marijuana. The researchers concluded that we should conduct further clinical trials on this subject.
Medical marijuana not only reduces symptoms caused by diabetes, but it could have the potential to reduce the severity of your diabetes, too. Find out more about cannabis’ effects on diabetes by checking out our pages for diabetes mellitus, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. When you feel ready to get a medical marijuana recommendation, search our database to find a cannabis-friendly doctor near you.