Last year, the FDA recognized a new drug for epilepsy made from marijuana’s own CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol. That means the marijuana plant may have a confirmed medical use after all.
So what about medical marijuana and diabetes? Can diabetics use the drug to help their condition or safely use it for pleasure?
As more states legalize medical marijuana, people with all kinds of diseases are wondering this same question.
However, diabetics are left reading between the lines of existing
studies to make a conclusion. The short answer: experts don’t know for
People with diabetes can discuss how to safely use medical marijuana
with their doctors. However, the research is slim and sometimes opposing
on whether the drug actually helps diabetes.
One large study published in The American Journal of Medicine points to positive benefits for diabetes.
The study was conducted on over 4,600 participants using the National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) survey. Of those
participating, about 580 used marijuana regularly and over 1,900 had
used it in the past. Interestingly, researchers found that using
marijuana was associated with a lower fasting insulin level and a
smaller waist size.
A review published in the Natural Medicine Journal also highlighted
positive outcomes. The review cited the NHANES study as well as several
mice models that suggest cannabis protected mice from getting diabetes
or reduced its severity.
The review also pointed out a study in Israel that revealed a low dose
of THC, well below its psychoactive capabilities, could protect the body
against organ damage.
But there are studies showing negative effects too. One such study
published by the American Diabetes Association showed that marijuana
users tended to consume about 20 percent more food, eat a lesser quality
diet involving simple carbs, have higher blood pressure and have a
higher percentage of visceral fat.
All of these markers could exacerbate diabetes risk. To balance these
findings, though, the same study did find that marijuana users had lower
overall fat content and a lower BMI.
Other possible (largely unproven) benefits of medical marijuana that many cannabis advocates commonly highlight:
? Reducing anxiety
? Reducing pain and inflammation
? Slowing cancer growth
? Muscle relaxant, which could be helpful for multiple sclerosis
? Controlling side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting
Officially, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that not enough
large-scale studies have been conducted to provide definitive answers
about medical marijuana. One thing is certain, though: In light of the
new wave of cannabis interest, this is a field of study researchers
The difficult task is to conduct such research under available laws,
which prohibit the use and study of marijuana by the federal government.
Researchers will need to take care to go the proper pathways so that
more research can become available and recognized.
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