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Diabetes and Marijuana is a very controversial topic mainly because of the varied legalities depending on your place of residence.
While some studies have been done their results are not yet conclusive as to the long-term safety of marijuana and diabetes.
Here in Canada, marijuana has recently been used successfully in the treatment of various medical conditions and had more recently been legalized for recreational use as well.
The fact that my government here in Canada has accepted its medical use and more recently recreational use has opened my mind.
When I think about it who am I to deny useful medical treatment to anyone based on my own shallow beliefs that I was raised with.
So I set about learning about this topic and let me tell you, I was quite surprised to say the least at the information I found.
The legalization means that when attending parties, people will have their choice of consuming alcohol or marijuana and some will choose both.
Diabetics need to understand the benefits or risks involved in order to make an informed decision, keeping their health and safety at the forefront of that decision.
Our Type 1 diabetic grandson is still only 5 so he won’t be faced with this decision for several years. Hopefully by then there will have been more studies done on this topic to further understand the long term health effects.
Let’s dive in and discover whether marijuana can benefit diabetics.
Marijuana for Diabetes
A report published by the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) reported that cannabis has the following potential benefits for diabetics:
- stabilize blood sugars
- anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce arterial inflammation
- neuroprotective effects reducing inflammation and pain associated with neuropathy
- antispasmodic agents aiding in the relief of muscle cramps and GI disorders
- improves circulation as it helps keep blood vessels open
- reduced blood pressure over time
- by using cannabis butter and oil in foods it can boost cardiac and arterial health
- topical creams can offer effective pain relief for neuropathic pain and tingling
- calms diabetic “restless leg syndrome’ improving quality of sleep
Within the past decade there has been more studies supporting these claims.
Topical CBD Hemp Oil
A study conducted in 2014 determined that combining CBD and THC in a topical marijuana treatment reduced the symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathic pain in participants.
In spray format it was easy for people to apply these cannabinoids directly to hands and feet reducing the pain and tingling associated with diabetic neuropathy.
There are a variety of CBD and hemp oils, lotions and balms available online and in some stores within Canada
It is important to always purchase these products from a reputable supplier after checking with your doctor to ensure it is safe for you to use.
Less reputable suppliers may store marijuana in damp areas causing dangerous molds that have been known to cause serious lung disease.
THC is also known as tetrahydrocannabinal is the active ingredient responsible for the psychological effects (the high). Cannabinoid receptors are mainly found in the areas of the brain that are responsible for pain, coordination, time perception, memory and thinking.
When THC attaches to these receptors it activates the feelings of euphoria and impairment of the coordination.
Other short term side effects can include hallucination, tachyarrhythmia, anxiety attack and short term memory impairment.
THC has also shown an increase in the release of dopamine and also offers powerful pain relief as well as sedation properties. It can also increase appetite and also prevent nausea and vomiting.
When THC interacts with CB 1 receptors it can increase metabolism and promote weight loss.
While CBD is the second most common cannibinoid found in many strains of cannabis it has very little psychoactive effects.
There are some strains of cannabis that have very little or only traces of THC with a very high concentration of CBD.
The chemical CBD seems to have anti-psychotic properties which seems to balance out the anxiety and panic attacks that sometimes result from THC.
It has been shown to improve wakefulness and work well together with THC to suppress pain and spasticity in muscle cells.
Alone CBD has been proven to be an effective anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety treatment.
It can be used as a sedative and has the ability to protect neurons and brain cells from damage.
CBD also has powerful anti-aging properties for skin cells.
Advantages for Diabetics
According to the advocacy group called the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) marijuana may have these benefits for diabetics:
- more stable blood sugar levels
- antioxidant properties which lower arterial inflammation
- reduced neuropathic pain
- reduced blood pressure
- relief from muscle cramps
- relief from gastrointestinal cramping and pain
They also suggest it may offer:
- lower risk of obesity due to smaller waist size
- increased sensitivity to insulin
- lowered risk of retinopathy
- pain management for neuropathy
Disadvantages for Diabetics
While marijuana use may provide several benefits for diabetics there are also some drawbacks.
The use of marijuana can affect the developing brain in people under 25 years of age possibly impairing the ability to learn and memory function. It is strongly recommended that those under 25 refrains from cannabis use.
Proper diabetes management requires a delicate balance of healthy diet, frequent blood glucose monitoring and calculating insulin dosage. It is also important that both meals and insulin injections be on time.
It is important that using marijuana or being high may reduce your ability to make the best choices.
One big disadvantage of diabetics using cannabis is that it can lead to an increased appetite (munchies).
This may cause people to crave and eat large quantities of carbohydrates which can cause a blood sugar spike. Extremely high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) may result in a medical emergency.
One way this can be combated is to keep various healthy snack options available so you can reduce your chances of a blood sugar spike.
Another risk of marijuana use to diabetics is it may impair their ability to recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels)
Symptoms of low blood sugar can include
- increased heartbeat
While under the influence of cannabis, diabetics may attribute the symptoms of low blood sugar to being high. This means they could actually miss the signs of a potential health emergency.
It is a good idea to have a non-using person present who is aware you are diabetic and understands what to do in case of a hypo or hyper event. If you don’t have a sober person present perhaps abstaining would be the safest option.
I realize that the use of marijuana (cannabis) whether medically or recreational is a very controversial subject and is not legal everywhere.
I admit for a lot of years I was dead set against it and would not even entertain the idea that there could actually be medical benefits to its use.
Well I must admit my eyes have been opened.
I now see the many beneficial medical uses available that are helping so many people. It is unfortunate that this medical treatment has been withheld from so many people for so long.
If you are diabetic and are considering using marijuana please be sure to have an open, honest discussion with your doctor to ensure your safety.
Also, be sure to have a sober person who is aware of your diabetes and knowledgeable on what to do in the event of a hypo or hyper event with you. This is important with the use of any substance that could impair your ability to care for yourself.
If you do indulge I would suggest that you don’t over indulge.
Just like with alcohol the results could be devastating, so please use moderation.
I would recommend checking blood sugar levels before, during and frequently after use for several hours.
Have healthy snacks available in case you do get the munchies. You don’t want that blood sugar spike from eating too many carbs.
Your health and safety are the most important factor.
If you have any experiences with marijuana and diabetes I would love to hear your thoughts. Just drop a line in the comment section below. Thanks for dropping by and stay safe.
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