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Medical Cannabis Treatment for Patients with Diabetes

When the human body, specifically the pancreas, cannot correctly produce the hormone insulin, it negatively affects the blood sugar or glucose level and diabetes sets in. While the two main types of the condition, diabetes 1 and 2, are the most common, prediabetes and gestational also exist. The condition, directly affected by the amount of sugar consumed and processed from food, is controlled by diet and exercise, and insulin administration.  

Up to 34.2 million Americans, equaling 10.5%, suffered from the condition in 2018, with up to 1.6 million diagnosed with type 1, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), adding 187,000 are children and adolescents. The good news is medical cannabis is proven to help prevent and control the condition in some states, with Ohio adding diabetes to their list of qualifying disorders. Based on the state condition list, medical cannabis can prevent nerve inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve circulation, among other benefits. 

Diabetes Types, Signs, and Symptoms

Type 1 diabetes, often referred to as insulin-dependent, and place sufferers at higher risk for heart disease and stroke, reports WebMD. This type of diabetes most often starts in adolescence. Type 2 diabetes is less intrusive and more common than type 1, with up to 90% of sufferers diagnosed with this classification. 

While type 1 sufferers must inject insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, those with type 2 do so by maintaining a healthy body weight with nutritious foods, and exercise. Prediabetes, high blood sugar onset before type 2, and gestational, occurring in late pregnancy, also require close monitoring of glucose levels. Diabetes types 1 and 2 reveal the same symptoms, including hunger, fatigue, frequent thirst and urination, and blurred vision; however, type 2 can also cause yeast infections, slow sore healing, numbness, and pain in feet or legs. 

Along with diet and exercise, administering insulin to diabetic sufferers is critical in keeping the condition under control. While injecting the hormone has traditionally been the primary method, oral and inhaled medications can also treat it sufficiently. 

Diabetes and Cannabinoids

The Journal of Pain published a study in 2015 detailing the effectiveness of inhaled cannabis for sufferers of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), proving that spontaneous pain was better treated with THC in patients who suffered neuropathic discomfort.

 “Our short-term, single session, crossover study in general found a dose dependent reduction in pain intensity in response to inhaled cannabis in patients with DPN,” reports the study. “Overall, our finding of an analgesic effect of cannabis is consistent with other trials of cannabis in diverse neuropathic pain syndromes.”

In 2019, Medscape reported diabetic sufferers were finding neuropathic relief from medical cannabis minus a doctor’s advice. “On forums such as Reddit.com, people with diabetes who want to partake or are already users have been comparing notes,” reports the medical news source. Along with Reddit opinions, the University of Colorado Professor Angela Bryan explained to Medscape the conclusive evidence of medicinal cannabis improving health. 

“If you look at the epidemiological literature, it actually turns out that cannabis users have lower body weight, lower rates of type 2 diabetes, lower rates of metabolic disease, and better insulin function,” she said. With more research and studies, personal testimony, and doctor opinions, medical cannabis will continue to ease symptoms associated with diabetes, giving the millions who suffer from the condition a new form of relief. 

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Data Last Updated 11/04/2021

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