Can Cannabis Help with the Treatment of Diabetes?
The roots of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are diverse. But can the same herb help with the treatment of both conditions?
Although it’s still too early to jump to conclusions, scientists have a lead after performing small human trials of cannabinoid therapies as a diabetes treatment.
Evidence that the herb could boost sensitivity to insulin and aid autoimmunity is still under reviews. Cannabis could assist patients to deal with harsh symptoms.
Type 1 Diabetes
Cannabis is a hot prospect of treating autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes. The overreactive system that decides to attack the pancreas is the cause of type 1 diabetes.
The pancreas is in charge of insulin production, a hormone mainly responsible for transferring the sugar from the blood into the cells. When the cells are under the siege of the immune system, they no longer can manufacture the insulin required to manage blood sugar levels.
Sadly, type 1 diabetics are generally on long-term insulin. Replacing the hormone that the organ produces is the only remaining option when the pancreas becomes too impaired.
Keep in mind that the use of cannabis doesn’t increase insulin levels, but its cannabinoids, however, may aid pacify the immune system.
This soothes the immune system and prevents the body from assaulting itself, thus reducing the damage done to the pancreas.
Cannabis Effect and Autoimmune Diabetes
Psychoactive THC with autoimmune diabetes was the subject of testing on mice back in 2001, treating the mice with 150mg/ kg of THC. The results showed a remarkable decline in loss of pancreatic insulin, as well as much lower instances of hyperglycemia and inflammation.
Moderate inflammation indicates that the immune system is concealed, reducing pancreas damage. On the other hand, 150mg/kg of THC is quite a lot. Luckily, non-psychoactive CBD is also perspective.
A study from 2008 confirmed that CBD stalled insulitis and lowered the inflammation. Also, it gave the impression of shifting the immune response from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory.
This preliminary adjusts the immune imbalance that induces autoimmune diseases. Although human trials in type 1 diabetes are still yet to happen, animal models clearly show that cannabis isn’t something to be ignored.
Type 2 Diabetes
Unlike type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune condition), type 2 diabetes is due to inferior carbohydrate metabolism, where the body is overwhelmed by sugars.
In order to decrease high blood sugar levels, the pancreas has to produce even more insulin and becomes exhausted. The sugars are stored in fat cells, who no longer respond to the hormone due to the attacks.
Carbohydrates are the origins of sugar, as well as some refined grains like cereals, fruit juice, and pasta. Blood sugar is formed by breaking down carb’s sugar into glucose.
The reason behind type 2 diabetes low-carbs diet’s effectiveness is the severe limitation to the overall sugar intake. Depending on the individual condition, one may still be in need to take insulin.
This is where cannabis steps up. It affects type 2 diabetes in an entirely divergent way it does on type 1. The anti-inflammatory abilities of the herb are useful for both conditions.
But, it’s the cannabis compound’s effects on the metabolism that makes it more beneficial in type 2 diabetes. Namely, it improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Insulin and Cannabis
Up to now, animal models have been quite enthusiastic and showed a large prospective for future diabetes drugs based on cannabis. Research back in 2012 included testing of 3 different cannabinoids: CBG, CBD, and CBN.
CBN increased the appetite of rats, while CBG had no affection whatsoever. CBD, on the other hand, appeared to decrease the appetite significantly. When treated with the compound, rats ate less.
The appetite decrease could be beneficial for those who are trying to change their diets vitally as a part of their treatments.
CBD is also promising in suppressing diseases in fatty non-alcoholic livers. Fat build-up in the liver is successfully reduced by this cannabinoid cocktail (THCV included).
The metabolic syndrome is the umbrella term for a variety of conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.
In addition, the complications of the syndrome are the roots of the fatty liver disease. All of these conditions are frequent in people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
One research on mice obesity models, THCV helped diminish intolerance to glucose, boosted the insulin sensitivity, enlarged the energy disbursement and turned their metabolisms on.
It also found that THCV reinstated insulin signal in once hormone-resistive cells. Inevitably, the substantial evidence provided by animals led British scientists to test the cannabis on people.
Clinical Human Trials
GW Pharmaceuticals is a British company that tested two cannabinoids in type 2 diabetes, back in 2012. They nursed 62 patients with non-psychoactive THCV and CBD.
The results were propitious, with patients improving the insulin response and primary functions of the pancreatic cells. Blood’s pressure and sugar levels, as well as inflammation, were decreased, increasing insulin production instead.
The study was so inspiring that enticed the company to proceed forward with another bigger study, starting in 2014 and still waiting for results.
A variety of firm evidence suggests that cannabis can enhance the function of the metabolism and relieve autoimmunity in both sorts of diabetes.
But, there is more to the herb, as it could aid with the management of side effects in either condition. Take a look at the possibilities.
Damaged nerves trigger neuropathy. Painful conditions arise as the result of nerve damage due to high blood sugar levels.
Diabetic neuropathy is displayed in various forms, but the most common ones are numbness, pain and tingling in the arms (hands) and legs (feet), etc.
Both type 2 and autoimmune diabetes patients can encounter neuropathy. As a matter of fact, 60-70% of all diabetics encounter neuropathy.
Researchers in 2015 analyzed sixteen patients with feet neuropathy. Each one obtaining 4 different doses: high, average and low THC and a placebo, with 2 weeks pause before altering doses.
The results indicated that the patients relieved neuropathic pain when treated with cannabis, depending on the dosage. Be that as it may, another study from 2009 presented rather different results.
In this trial, they analyzed 30 patients with neuropathy and treated them with Sativex (multiple sclerosis drug made by GW Pharmaceuticals).The ratio between the THCV and CBD in the drug is 1:1, and it didn’t have any effects on lowering the neuropathic pain.
This only brings us to the conclusion that we need to find out a lot more about cannabis before we can implement it in our treatments. However, cannabis proved its healing skills in animal models as it enhanced the nerve responses and reinstated the perception of thermal pain.
Diabetes can also be harmful to the eyes. Retinopathy is manifested from deprivation of small blood vessels behind the retina, which leads to blindness eventually.
In fact, it’s the No.1 root of blindness in people between 20-64 years of age. The longer we face diabetes, the more prone we are to this type of ocular deterioration.
Luckily, cannabis could have the ability to aid with this kind of complication too. A study from 2006 suggests that the CBD could protect the eyepiece of growing a plethora of blood vessels.
Another common side effect of diabetes is ischemia (the inability of various organs in the body to accumulate sufficient amount of oxygen).
The oxygen deficit induces blood vessels in the eyepiece to try and produce new ones as a solution to the problem. But they can’t do the job done properly.
In which case, leads to failure of the special pumps responsible for regulating the conveyance between the nerve cells in the eyes.
On the other hand, the powerful antioxidant premises of cannabinoids aid lower damage from stress, which is the main reason why ocular nerve cells fail.
Like for any other chronic condition, depression is a huge problem for those with diabetes too. Fortunately, cannabis contains plentiful cannabinoids with antidepressant impact.
The University of Buffalo recently performed research on rodents, resulting in reduced endocannabinoids due to chronic stress. Endocannabinoids are basically like THC that our bodies produce.
Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane, their leading scientist, explains:
“One of the major causes of depression is chronic stress. We could reinstate normal functions of endocannabinoids by utilizing cannabis-derived compounds. Which could then potentially aid stabilize moods and soothe depression.”
Another study in April 2016, resulted in CBD having a high-speed anti-depressive impact on rodents. However, it can take up to six weeks for a pharmaceutical antidepressant to start working.
This rodent research suggests that the effects of CBD can be beneficial for depression treatments right away!
Beneficial Strains for Diabetes
Finding cannabis products high in both CBD and THCV can be hard. But, there are several strains that we could put into consideration.
That leaves diabetics with herbs as their only option, until we breed strains specifically for that intention, or until we produce a drug based on cannabis.
We present to you a short list of strains with high levels of both CBD and THCV:
- Blue Dream – high THCV
- Harlequin – high CBD
- Charlotte’s Web Hemp Oil – high CBD (a legal product for all U.S residents available for online purchase)
- Durban Poison – high THCV
In addition, we provided a video example of a woman who treated type 2 diabetes with cannabis and lost weight on the way:
In conclusion, cannabis promised a huge capacity for treating both types of diabetes.
Keep in mind that cannabis isn’t a substitute for a low-carb diet, sleep nor exercise, but it does, however, have the undeniable therapeutic potential.