Diabetes Mellitus is the name for a group of metabolic diseases in which patients have high blood sugar for an extended period. According to the CDC, a staggering 29 million people have some form of the disease – roughly 10% of the entire population. Here we’ll have a look at diabetes, traditional treatments and the benefits of cannabis.
What is Diabetes?
There are three forms, all of which are characterized by too much blood sugar for a prolonged period.
- Type 1 diabetes occurs as a result of the pancreas’s inability to produce sufficient insulin. The cause of this kind of diabetes is unknown. As insulin is responsible for taking the sugar from the blood into the fat, liver, and muscle. Having too little of it means too much sugar stays in the blood.
- Type 2 Diabetes develops primarily because of too much body weight and too little exercise. De to these factors, cells in the body stop responding to insulin properly, causing too much sugar to stay in the blood.
- Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnant women develop high blood sugar levels, but this type results in few symptoms.
Symptoms usually include increased urination, thirst and hunger. Low blood sugar as a result of either a lack of lack of insulin or its ineffectiveness can lead to a diabetic emergency. Signs of this problem include sweating, trembling, confusion, seizure, unconsciousness, and sometimes brain damage or death.
In the long term, diabetes puts patients at risk for some complications. For example, patients are at twice the risk of cardiovascular disease. The disease also increases the risk of coronary artery disease and strike. The illness damages small blood vessels over time, potentially causing damage to the eyes, kidneys and nerves. As the illness progresses, it comes with a host of problems, including diabetic neuropathy, or intense nerve pain.
The disease is virtually incurable, accept for a few instances when it just disappeared. As such, treatment revolves around managing symptoms and maintaining a healthy body weight. This is achieved by making lifestyle changes such as following a balanced diet and exercising regularly. The goal is to bring blood sugar levels down to a normal level.
Medications are also used to lower blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. For those with type 1, however, insulin shots are required. In rare cases, a pancreas transplant is offered to those with type 1 diabetes in hopes of receiving an organ that produces more insulin. Whether a patient has type 1 or 2 diabetes, however, they often suffer from nerve pain brought on by the disease.
Cannabis Treatment for Diabetic Pain
A study was conducted on rats to assess the effectiveness of cannabis for diabetic nerve pain. They found that the neuropathic pain that is symptomatic of some diabetes sufferers was effectively relieved by a cannabis-based medication. Because diabetic nerve pain is the most common of all neuropathic pains experienced around the world, the scope of its research is quite broad.
In humans, cannabis has been shown to be an effective treatment for chronic nerve pain. Given what was found in the study on rats, it stands to to reason that cannabis-based medication is also a suitable treatment for nerve pain in people.
Cannabis Prevents Development of Diabetes
Another study conducted on diabetic rats used Cannabidiol, and examined the effects. The results were shocking: incidence of diabetes plummeted from 86% in the placebo rats to just 30% in the rats receiving Cannabidiol. The researchers explain that the medication works by inhibiting and delaying insulitis, a disease of the pancreas that causes sufferers to become diabetic.
On humans, researchers just last year conducted a national survey. They observed that recent or current active cannabis smoking was inversely associated with having diabetes. In other words, people who use cannabis are less likely to develop the disease from those who don’t. What this suggests is that cannabis smoking possible protects users from developing the disorder. The study notes that while this is not conclusive, more research is needed to confirm their findings.
The Future of Cannabis for Diabetes
Studies have shown promise for using cannabis as medicine to treat the symptoms of diabetes as well as prevent it from ever developing. Unsurprisingly, surveys conducted on the subject reflect this, with cannabis users being less likely to develop the disease. More research will probably corroborate these findings, and soon cannabis may be used more commonly to treat diabetes.