Almost 30 million people in the United States - about 10 percent of the population - suffers from diabetes and its related ailments. Unfortunately, two-thirds of diabetes patients will die due to complications from the disease, but for people with diabetes who also have peripheral vascular disease, some hope is on the horizon. Studies now show that the use of medical marijuana may be able to slow down the progression of vascular damage and prolong life.
The build up of fatty materials in arteries over time can result in vascular disease. This accumulation of fats, called atherosclerosis, restricts important blood flow throughout the body. Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis, referring to the hardening of arteries due to that fatty build up. This can be a big threat to diabetes patients. People with diabetes may already experience issues with weakened blood vessels, as well have fatty deposits that build faster than in non-diabetics. As a result, peripheral vascular disease may hit diabetics sooner, faster and with more deadly results than experienced by non-diabetics. Early and continued intervention is important to both prolong life and enhance quality of life.
While medical marijuana cannot reverse peripheral vascular disease, it may be of significant value to diabetes patients for another reason: inflammation reduction. With the progression of peripheral vascular disease through increasingly blocked - or hardened - arteries, inflammation increases around blood vessels, and eventually throughout the body. However, in a recent report from the ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the potential for inflammation reduction through medical cannabis was more fully explored.
Cannabis is composed of more than 450 different properties, several of which interact with two key receptors in the human body: CB1 and CB2. It is the latter receptor that helps to control how a body reacts to conditions that may result in inflammation. When cannabis and CB2 interact, less inflammatory signals are the result. That means that for a variety of ailments that lead to inflammation, including arteriosclerosis, marijuana may be of significant benefit.
Many other peripheral diseases that impact diabetes patients also include a component of inflammation, such as glaucoma and neuropathy. From prolonged life to improved vision and decreased pain levels, the use of medical marijuana can prove beneficial for many diabetics.