Today worldwide, 425 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, and in Canada diabetic rates nearly doubled in the decade between 2000-2010. Approximately three and a half million people now suffer from the condition, which can increase the risk for heart disease, renal failure, and lower limb infection and damage. High out-of-pocket costs means that over half of those on treatment say they cannot afford all the medications and supplies needed to properly manage their diabetes.
The good news is that a lot of research has been done to find out just how cannabis can alter the risks and outcomes of the condition. Many positive benefits have been discovered that help you manage, and in some cases even reverse, your diabetes symptoms. To better understand just how those symptoms come about and how cannabis can heal your body in ways that help reduce their impact, it’s useful to review some of the underlying processes that lead to diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
This type of diabetes occurs when your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or cannot use it properly due to a condition known as insulin resistance. This is when insulin’s uptake of sugar is inhibited. This causes unhealthy ‘spikes’ in blood sugar that can eventually lead to conditions such as arteriosclerosis, kidney failure, nerve damage, and the inability to create any insulin at all. The condition typically starts during adulthood, although some children do experience it. Because of cannabis’ positive ability to regulate key systems in your body, it has shown much promise in helping people to better manage their Type 2 diabetes symptoms.
The main markers of Type 2 Diabetes are:
- Gain or Loss of Weight
- Blurry Vision
- Excessive Tiredness
- Slow-healing Skin Wounds
- Frequent Infections
- Tingling or Numbness in Your Hands and Feet
- Extreme Thirst
- Frequent Urination
Type 1 Diabetes
This form of diabetes is sometimes referred to as ‘Juvenile Onset Diabetes’ because it commonly starts in people’s youth, although adults can also develop the condition. Here, the pancreas’ beta cells are damaged or inhibited in such a way that they stop producing insulin altogether. This was long believed to be an irreversible condition caused by infections, environmental toxins, or autoimmune issues, but promising new research now indicates that certain natural substances may help to regenerate these beta cells. As we’ll see below, cannabis has shown early indications for helping to keep pancreatic beta cells protected so that they can thrive, even during early onset Type 1 diabetes.
Here are some of the most prevalent indicators of Type 1 Diabetes:
- Increased Appetite Coupled With Sudden Weight Loss
- Excessive Thirst
- Vision Changes
- Frequent Urination
- Unexplained Drowsiness
- Sweet, Fruit-Like Breath
How Cannabis Helps You Manage Your Diabetes
It may seem contradictory to think that cannabis, which has been scientifically shown to activate your appetite, could also positively regulate food intake and balance blood sugar levels. How can this happen?
Here’s how it works: the THC in cannabis does indeed whet your appetite by binding to and activating certain receptors in your brain called CB1. However, at the same time, it also binds to and activates receptors in your brain called CB2. The activated CB2 receptors positively regulate key processes in your body that help you reduce your risk for Metabolic Syndrome.
This syndrome is marked by chronic inflammation, which leads to such issues as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and excess belly fat. All these issues are either risk factors for diabetes, or indicators of the disease. By regulating the underlying inflammation associated with the onset of Metabolic Syndrome, cannabis can help you to better manage and reduce your risk for diabetes.
Here are some of the other promising ways that cannabis assists you with your diabetes care:
- It helps reduce the pain associated with Type I Diabetes.
- It shows promise for reversing early stage Type I Diabetes by protecting pancreatic cells.
- It helps reduce insulin resistance, which leads to more balanced blood sugar levels.
- It helps promote body fat regulation, which also leads to reduced insulin resistance.
- It promotes the “good” cholesterol that helps protect against diabetes.
- It contains compounds found in its essential oils called ‘terpenes’ that help reduce the risk for diabetic neuropathy.
Because of these stellar health benefits, regular cannabis users have been shown to exhibit a 16-17% lowered risk for key diabetic indicators than their non-using counterparts, even if they take in more calories than they did prior to using this therapeutic supplement.
The Best Cannabis Strains For Your Diabetes Symptoms
Both the CB1 and CB2 receptors are a part of your body’s Endocannabinoid System, which helps keep many of the main wellness-boosting processes in your body flowing along smoothly. Some of the best cannabis strains to reduce your risk for developing diabetes, help manage the condition, and keep your Endocannabinoid System strong and healthy include those with higher levels of CBD (cannabidiol). This is because CBD has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Since both THC and CBD help regulate inflammation and other key risk factors for diabetes, finding a strain that contains moderate levels of THC is also very helpful. In addition, a third component of cannabis known as THCV shows promise as a Type 2 diabetes therapy because of its ability to suppress your appetite and regulate your blood sugar.
Our App is an excellent resource for finding the strains that will best assist you with your daily diabetes care regime. Just enter your condition and symptoms to see the strains that others are using to reduce the effects of their diabetes. You can also find the levels of THC and CBD in each strain, and learn just how effective each is at treating your particular symptoms, known as ‘efficacy’. Check out our wellness forums to discover even more about the benefits of using cannabis for your daily diabetes management!