New Study Reveals That Cannabis Users Have Half The Risk Of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is one of the most common yet preventable illnesses that plague millions of people around the world.
In the United States alone, around 90% of people have type 2 diabetes. It usually affects the older population and the elderly, but given how unhealthy the standard American diet is these days, it’s unfortunately more common among young adults and children.
However, there has been a surprising body of research that has continued to grow over the last few years, revealing that cannabis consumers have less of a risk developing diabetes in different forms. Now, a new research from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences came out with the findings of, shedding light on the effect of marijuana on insulin and glucose regulation.
For the study, the investigators analyzed 11 surveys as well as 4 epidemiological cohort studies on the subject that were published until July 2022. What they found validated that type 2 diabetes is less likely to occur among cannabis consumers. “A protective effect of cannabis consumption on the odds of diabetes mellitus type 2 development has been suggested,” reads the paper. “Yet given the considerable interstudy heterogeneity, the upward trend of cannabis consumption and cannabis legalization is recommended to conduct studies with higher levels of evidence,” it says.
“Cannabis consumption exerts multiple effects on metabolism via various pathways, including glucose regulation and insulin secretion,” says the study. “Studies concerning the association between cannabis use and diabetes mellitus type 2 are discrepant,” it adds.
This isn’t the first, and will likely not be the last study to echo the same findings.
In June 2023, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, conducted an animal study to examine why cannabis users were predisposed to being leaner, and less of a risk developing type 2 diabetes, despite having the ‘munchies’. And since most marijuana consumers begin their habit as a teenager, the scientists administered low doses of THC to adolescent mice.
When the mice were adults, the dosage was halted. Indeed, they found that these mice had developed a resistance to hyperglycemia and obesity. They also discovered other characteristics found in adult humans that consume cannabis frequently, such as the impacted ability to use energy from fat stores.
Then another study from March 2023 conducted in Iran involved researchers administering sublingual sprays with a ratio of 10: 1 CBD and THC to 50 diabetic patients. The researchers analyzed the efficacy of this proprietary formulation and compared it with the results of a placebo for 8 weeks. After this period, they found that being given cannabinoids were linked to a “statistically significant decline in total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-C, FBS [fasting blood glucose levels], Hb [hemoglobin] A1C, and insulin secretion — at the end of the 8-week treatment period… There were no statistically significant differences in reported adverse effects between the two groups,” the researchers wrote.
“In the present study, we demonstrated that sublingual administration of [a CBD/THC] spray, .. twice daily through an eight-week treatment period could effectively improve the patient’s lipid profile and glucose tolerance,” they wrote in the study.
“Based on these observations, the combination of CBD-THC regimen could be a new therapeutic regimen for controlling the lipid profile and glycemic state of DM patients,” the researchers concluded.
Why Does Cannabis Work So Well?
While the exact mechanisms of how cannabinoids work to reduce the occurrence of type 2 diabetes remain largely unknown, we can work with some hypothesis. For one, the cannabinoids in marijuana are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties. The insulin resistance that occurs as a result of diabetes also leads to increased inflammation – so perhaps, when we consume cannabis, the reduction of inflammation also treats insulin resistance.
Additionally, the human body contains numerous cannabinoid receptors that are touted to benefit insulin sensitivity, hence the association between cannabis users having a much smaller waistline and their pot habit.
Despite all the promising research, there’s still so much we don’t know about how marijuana works to improve insulin sensitivity, fasting blood sugar, and metabolism in general. We’re still too far off the necessary research that will allow patients to safely self-medicate with marijuana if they want to treat or reduce diabetes in general, in the same way we self-medicate with it these days to treat anxiety, insomnia, or lack of appetite. Patients of serious conditions, such as diabetes, require clinically-established baselines for dosage and the precise cannabinoids – the same way that CBD is widely used for treating epilepsy with such great success.
Additionally, more clinical trials are necessary because individuals who are already on certain diabetes medications may risk experiencing interactions with these drugs. Being high on THC can also lead to unwanted accidents that can make it difficult to manage diabetes, such as forgetting to dose drugs properly or taking your blood sugar levels as often as possible.
Doctors also have their own opinions on the matter.
“This research is in its infancy. As far as using marijuana medicinally to improve measures of metabolism or diabetes, there are far more unknowns than knowns, and it’s way too early to make a recommendation to use cannabis,” says Dr. Troy Donahoo MD to EverydayHealth.com.
If you live in a legal state, talk to your doctor about using medical marijuana for diabetes. They may be able to start you off with a recommended THC or CBD product, but never forget to always disclose the medications you are already taking.
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