Today, diabetes has become a global epidemic affecting almost 400 million people worldwide and killing up to 5 million people every year - its prevalence is rising.
According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017 nearly 2 million people in United States are diagnosed with diabetes every year. In 2015 alone, an estimated 30 million Americans of all ages had diabetes.
Diabetes also known as diabetes mellitus refers to a group of metabolic disorders characterized by continued elevated blood glucose levels. Low levels of high- density lipoprotein cholesterol and high levels of insulin resistance and fasting insulin have been associated with this chronic disease.
Basically, there are two main types of diabetes. Both of these cause blood glucose levels to be higher than normal, but the two different types do this in different ways. In Type 1, the body attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, causing a rise in blood sugar levels. In Type 2, the more common form of diabetes, insufficient insulin is produced in the pancreas, which slows the metabolism and increases blood sugar levels.
Diabetes: Risk Factors
Diabetes is triggered in large part by a shift to less healthy nutritional habits and increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
Diabetics either produce too little insulin or none. This way insulin cannot be utilised effectively which lets the blood glucose level to rise and the remaining cells are deprived of the needed energy. This can cause numerous problems in almost every body system.
When body cells become insulin resistant, they are no longer able to absorb the glucose required to supply them with energy. The unused glucose starts building up in the bloodstream which can cause and cause hyperglycemia.
Type 2 diabetes threatens the economies of all nations, but is even more rampant in many developing countries, fuelled by the drive of rapid urbanization and economic growth. However, both the conditions, if not treated properly, can cause a host of serious side effects including high blood pressure, nerve damage, stroke, heart diseases, kidney damage, and even death.
Treating Diabetes with Cannabis?
Can it be possible that CBD oil act as an aid in the treatment of diabetes and other associated diseases? Yes, there has been substantial evidence that cannabis can be effective in preventing and treating diabetes. As the use of CBD continues to rise, doctors around the world are researching whether they should prescribe it for diabetes which would help patients deal with the symptoms and even fight the disease.
CBD or Cannabidiol is extracted from the cannabis plant and researchers have proven that CBD has potential therapeutic effects and medical properties. CBD oil can also help in treating other diseases.
Research paper in 2005 from the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) has listed various benefits that cannabis and CBD for diabetics. It can act as an arterial anti- inflammatory treatment, help in keeping blood vessels open and thereby improve circulation, stabilize blood sugar level, can prevent inflammation in nerves, relieve muscle cramps and gastrointestinal pains, lower blood pressure and calm the diabetics by helping in the ‘restless leg syndrome’ (RLS).
Cannabinoids: How do they work?
There are endocannabinoids and their receptors present in the body- the organs, brain, glands, connective tissues, immune cells. In every tissue, the cannabinoid system can perform varied tasks but always aims to reach a homeostasis which helps in maintaining a stable internal environment despite of fluctuation in the environment. These cannabinoids can promote homeostasis at each level of biological life from subcellular to the organism.
The reason for these wide-ranging reliefs lies in the cannabinoids. Research proves that cannabis not only helps in controlling symptoms in diagnosed cases but can help prevent the occurrence of diabetes-
1. Lowers Insulin Resistance
Insulin dysfunction is the underlying factor in diabetes. Cannabinoid receptors have been found present in the islet cells of pancreas producing insulin. The activation of CB1 receptors has been linked previously to production of insulin.
IR or Insulin Resistance is a condition in which cells reject the normal insulin mechanism which is a hormone produced by pancreas. Insulin is primary in the regulation of glucose metabolism.
In type 1 diabetes, the body is unable to produce insulin while in type 2, the insulin production is unaffected but the cells are lose their ability to process it. IR is related to type 2 diabetes when the cells become insulin resistant and the unused glucose can build in the bloodstream.
After a 5 year study, results in 2013 proved the effects of cannabis on insulin resistance and fasting insulin were published in the American Journal of Medicine.
The current users of cannabis had a mean IR of around 1.8 as compared to 2.2 for previous users and 2.5 for those who never had used cannabis. It was also found that current cannabis users had lower levels of blood glucose as compared to past users and non- users.The mean blood glucose levels of current users was 99.7 mg/dL as compared to 100.6 mg/dL for old users and 103.5 mg/dL for non- users.
The mechanism through which cannabinoids affected IR has not been determined yet.
Dr Julie Chin who runs a holistic medical office in New York believes that CBD treatment for diabetics should be combines with a dietary change for the maximum gains because sugar intake is equally important as regulation of blood sugar.
2. Improves Metabolism
Diabetes can cause a large waist circumference, obesity and a high mass index. There have been conflicting results in various studies conducted on the relationship between BMI and cannabis use.
In one of the studies conducted in 2005 on young adults, it was found that cannabis use is not related to BMI changes. Two national level surveys were conducted and found that lower decreased levels of obesity and lower BMI among cannabis users were found despite of higher- than- average everyday consumption of calories. The study in 2013 concluded people using cannabis currently had a smaller waist circumference.
Thus, cannabis has been associated with a higher metabolic rate and helps the body process calories faster and more efficiently.
It also has anti- inflammatory properties. It is known that chronic inflammation can play a role in the development of insulin resistance so CBD oil can be used to treat inflammation in such cases and help the metabolism of the body.
Western Medical doctors are still reluctant to prescribe CBD oil to diabetic patients or other associated diseases and symptoms, there is still a large proportion of researchers, doctors, patients who intent to go ahead and give CBD a try.
It can help diabetics even though there still are few questions which are yet to be answered that why can CBD be an effective treatment for patients as it certainly has changed and helped lives of numerous people.