News

Latest medical benefits of cannabis: the treatment of diabetes

Diabetes sufferers inject insulin to make up for their shortage. Photo: Lifeofadiabetic#4
Diabetes sufferers inject insulin to make up for their shortage. Photo: Lifeofadiabetic#4

Diabetes, or diabetes mellitus to give it its full name, is the state where a person has high blood sugar either because their body is not producing sufficient insulin (type 1 diabetes) or its cells do not respond properly to insulin (type 2, making up 90 percent of cases) or both. Insulin is a hormone that causes different cell types to radically increase their consumption of glucose.

Problems caused

Diabetes causes excessive urination, heightened thirst and hunger, weight gain or loss, cuts and bruises that fail to heal, male sexual dysfunction and numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. More seriously, other possible results are blindness, hardening of the arteries, kidney failure and nerve damage. Diabetes affects nine percent of people in the United States and is the third most common cause of death in the country after heart disease and cancer.

Enter cannabis

The medical benefits of cannabis for diabetes first came to public attention in 2005 in the shape of a research paper by the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis. This found that cannabis stabilised blood sugar; was anti-inflammatory; had neuroprotective effects, helping to prevent inflammation of nerves and reducing pain; was an anti-spasmodic agent which relieved muscle cramp and gastrointestinal disorders; was a vasodilator that kept blood vessels open and improved circulation; lowered blood pressure, something vital to diabetics; relieved neuropathic pain when taken as a topical cream; and calmed restless leg syndrome, where people experience an urge to move their legs, allowing them to sleep better.

A groundbreaking 2013 study by the American Journal of Medicine, which would be taken more seriously coming as it does from an organisation that doesn’t have “cannabis” in its title, confirmed that cannabis might control blood sugar and came to the further conclusion that more medical benefits of cannabis were that users were less likely to be obese, despite taking in more calories, because cannabis increased the amount of energy burned off by the body, and they had more good cholesterol.

Another study, this time published in the Natural Medicine Journal in 2014, concluded based on the observation of thousands of folk that cannabis use entailed less insulin, blood glucose, insulin resistance and body mass index.

One more study in 2015 by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem demonstrated that the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol, one of the main ingredients of cannabis, had medical benefits in the face of a number of illnesses, of which one was type 2 diabetes.

It’s well-known that cannabis is useful in the treatment of glaucoma, which can be caused by diabetic retinopathy, where the flow of blood to the eye is restricted.

Cannabis is just what we needed

The medical benefits of cannabis in treating diabetes is very good news, given that the number of sufferers in the United States has increased by almost 50 percent in the last 10 years, probably due to an increase of the risk factors behind it, such as a sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in sugar.