Marijuana appears to have a beneficial influence in controlling blood sugar levels and preventing diabetes
Medicinal properties of marijuana have been know to men for over 10,000 years but since the 1930’s it went into obscurity and its illegal status brought controversy to its use. Now with its legalization in 2 states in the U.S. and promises of more states to come, marijuana is finally getting the attention from the scientific community and many people looking for medical alternatives. New studies are appearing in all areas of disease prevention and treatment such as cancer, seizures and diabetes to name a few.
Marijuana appears to have a beneficial influence in controlling blood sugar levels and preventing diabetes. The relationship between pot and hunger and appetite have been widely known. The endocannabinoid system is a group of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors in the brain that are involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory; it mediates the psychoactive effects of cannabis and this is inside our body. Pot increases appetite so how can that be good for diabetes? Even though pot is associated with an increase caloric intake it is also associated with a lower body mass index (BMI), lower obesity and diabetes but why. New studies are beginning to investigate this.
The first study I reviewed investigates the benefits of Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) a neutral CB1 in obese rodents. The administration of THCV in obese mice and the subsequent improvement in metabolic functions in these rodents. THCV were found to improve fasting plasma glucose and glucose tolerance and when given twice daily improved insulin sensitivity. An increased energy expenditure were also noted in obese mouse. THCV was also found to reduce liver triglyceride levels. In another study the use of Rimonabant or CB1 was tested in humans and for one year under the CB1 therapy the reported a 4.7 Kg or greater mean weight loss then the placebo group. The treatment also showed beneficial action on metabolic risk factors with an increase in HDL cholesterol (the good one) and a decrease in triglycerides (fat in the blood).
In yet another study seeking to determine the association between diabetes mellitus and marijuana use had a total sample of 10,896 adults including groups of non-marijuana users; past marijuana users; light users and heavy current users. The results were that marijuana users had a lower age-adjusted prevalence of DM compared to non-marijuana users. The prevalence of elevated C reactive protein was significantly higher in non marijuana users (C reactive protein is involved with inflammation therefore having that around is not a good thing). This discovery pointed to the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana. The study also found that there could be a relationship between early exposure to marijuana and a interference with the development of diabetes. This study also review other studies performed in rodents where significant benefits against diabetic complications and atherosclerosis were noted in addition to the anti-inflammatory properties. It was also found that CB’s (the non-psychoactive cannabidiol was also found to attenuate the progression of DM type I in rodents.
The limitation of this study (the first one mentioned) were its cross-sectional nature. Persons attending the study may not have represented the larger sample of the population overall. Other limitations were the self-report format which is subject to bias and not always possible to be confirmed.
So what should you do?
So with so much evidence on the benefits of marijuana should you fire up that bowl yet? Not so fast, Even though the medicinal properties of marijuana have been known for a long time we are just discovering how they works. Many are reporting successes of marijuana therapy in various front lines of disease fighting but there are still many questions answered and methodology have not been yet refined.
Marijuana potency have been increasing as growers develop new planting techniques and dosages vary widely and the properties of certain plants are now being studied. We may know the proven benefits in laboratory studies but nothing have been yet tested on populations during a long time period. Unfortunately the therapies available are still being developed and because of the its illegal status in most of the world marijuana have been kept out of the hands of health care systems and professionals capable of delivering safe and effective care except for a few brave ones who goes against the grain in order to find new cures.