Diabetes and Cannabis: A Possible Treatment? | The Diabetes Council

Cannabis is very well known for the unstoppable ‘Munchies’ urge it induces. Most people would think that an increased caloric intake would result in a higher BMI. It would also be logical to assume that marijuana users tend to be overweight and prone to diabetes. Surprisingly, these two assumptions do not seem to apply to marijuana users. 

Marijuana is currently legal for medical use in 28 American states and the District of Columbia. There are increasing evidence to support the claims that the Cannabis plant offers many potential medicinal properties for a wide number of diseases and disorders. Although we know that marijuana can be helpful in treating nervous disorders, little research is available on its other healing properties because of the law against using the herb for medicinal use.

Because of the regulations and the stigma against marijuana, the opinions are biased. But the early research looks promising between the relationship between marijuana and the metabolic processes of the body is still in a relatively new research phase. Of the many research done on various health problems, one of the newest claims is that marijuana can help prevent diabetes, help treat diabetes, and treat certain complications as a result of diabetes. To clear the stigma about marijuana, this article will cover these following topics:

Marijuana has numerous of nicknames throughout the years. Amongst all the names, it is most commonly known as weed, pot, ganja, Mary Jane, hemp, and Cannabis. It is actually the female flower buds of the plant Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or a hybrid of both strains (the male flower buds have very minimal psychedelic chemicals if not none). Of the 483 known compounds in the plant, there are 86 canninoid chemicals identified. Of the 86 chemicals, the main psychoactive pharmacological chemical is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Other cannabinoid chemicals found are cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), cannabaravin (THCV), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannbicyclol (CBL). All these cannabinoid chemicals are known to also have psychoactive and pharmacological properties. Because THC and CBD are the chemicals of interest to most marijuana users, the potency of the herb is typically measured in THC and CBD concentrations. Although these chemicals are found in the whole plant (less than 0.5% for inactive hemp and 2 to 3% for marijuana leaves), the female Cannabis flower bud glands (4 to 20% concentration) is where the chemicals are the strongest and provides the most psychoactive euphoria effect.

Chemicals of Interest

What is interesting about the cannabinoids is that because of their high lipid-soluble ability, they can stay within the body for an extended amount of time. Even though the THC is broken down in the liver into THC-COOH (the chemical urine test detects), the chemical can stay within the body for 4 days for occasional users and 67 days for extreme chronic users. There are a number of researchers that have suggested that perhaps this special ability allows Cannabis to effectively treat so many health problems because it can readily be absorbed into the lipid membranes of neurons and other body cells.

THC:
Also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is mostly responsible for the marijuana’s psychological effects. Because cannabinoid receptors (the CB1 receptors and CB2 cannabinoid receptors) are mostly found in brain regions that are responsible for pleasure, coordination, time perception, memory, and thinking, these regions are activated when THC attaches to the receptors to create the euphoric feeling and the coordination impairment. Some other short-term side effects are hallucination, tachyarrhythmia, anxiety attack, and short-term memory impairment. On the other hand, THC has been shown to increase the dopamine release, and have powerful pain relief and sedation properties. It has also been shown to increase appetite and prevent nausea and vomiting. At the same time, its interaction with CB1 receptors has shown to increase metabolism and promote weight loss.

CBD:
This is the second most common cannabinoid found in many strains of Cannabis. As a matter of fact, there are certain strains of which the concentration of CBD is much higher than THC. In some rare strains, the ratio between the two cannabinoid is so drastic that there is only traces of THC concentration yet the CBD concentration is extremely high. Unlike THC, CBD has very little (if not none) psychoactive effects. The CBD chemical has shown to have anti-psychotic properties which balance out the anxiety and panic attack effects of THC chemical. It has also been demonstrated to improve wakefulness and work together with THC to suppress pain and spasticity in muscle cells. When CBD is taken by itself, CBD has been proven to be anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety. It can be used as a sedative and contains neuro-protective abilities to protect neurons and brain cells from various damage. Moreover, it also has powerful anti-aging properties for skin cells.

CBN:
The third most common cannabinoid. It is actually a byproduct from the THC chemical breakdown. It has very little psychoactive and medicinal effects. It is commonly found in poorly preserved marijuana that has been kept in hot temperature.

THCA:
Although many articles have stated that THC is the most prevalent chemical found in the Cannabis buds, it actually exist as in the acidic form THC acid (also known as THCA). High heat is needed in order to convert THCA into the psychoactive THC form. Even though it is not psychoactive, THCA has been found to have immune-modulatory properties similar to the other cannabinoids.

THCV:
Also known as tetrahydrocannabivarin. Although it is chemically very similar to THC, THCV is an appetite suppressant and anti-convulsive chemical. Even though it is psychoactive, its effect if more clear-head euphoric effect similar to CBD high ratio strains.

Source: Diabetes and Marijuana: A Possible Treatment?

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