Diabetes is one of the biggest health issues we face today. What was once an uncommon disease has become a veritable epidemic. One in ten people--almost 30 million altogether--are currently diagnosed with diabetes. Two out of three people who suffer from diabetes will die, either from the condition itself or from complications, such as kidney failure, associated with it. Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot properly regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1, commonly called juvenile diabetes; and Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes.
Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 is a genetic disorder in which the pancreas is unable to produce enough of the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Type 1 patients must have daily insulin injections to supplement what their bodies make. In Type 2, the body produces enough insulin but is unable to process it properly. This is the most common form of diabetes, and is a chronic disease requiring ongoing medical care. Diabetes is often complicated by other chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure. There is no cure for either type of diabetes. Type 1 patients must take insulin for life, and while lifestyle changes may have some impact on Type 2 cases, though most patients remain on medication for life as well.
Research into Cannabis Use
Although diabetes has been the subject of intense research, progress in treatment has been slow. Recent studies, however, show that medical marijuana holds promise as a primary treatment or adjunct to treatment for both types of diabetes. One study, entitled The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults and published in The American Journal of Medicine found that medical cannabis users had a more productive carbohydrate metabolism than non-users; their fasting insulin levels were lower and they exhibited less insulin-resistance than non-users. In fact, their fasting insulin levels were actually 16 percent lower than those who had stopped using medical marijuana, or who had never used it at all, and they were more able to utilize the insulin their bodies produced.
For Type 2 patients, medical marijuana may help maintain normal blood sugar levels and control the advance of the disease. However, there are also implications for Type 1 patients, as lower fasting levels may decrease the amount and volume of insulin needed. For those whose diabetes is complicated by high blood pressure, it may be even more helpful. While it initially increases heart rate in new users, after a small adjustment period medical marijuana has been found to result in lowered blood pressure long-term.