Medical Cannabis for Diabetes
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Ohio's list of 21 qualifying conditions for medical cannabis treatment allows for patients to seek medical cannabis treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and symptoms. Although not explicitly included in Ohio's 21 qualifying conditions, how to use cannabis to treat diabetes and its associated symptoms is a common question we receive. As such, we will be breaking down the best strains and forms of cannabis for the treatment of diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. According to the NIH, blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes, your body doesn't make enough - or any - insulin or doesn't use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn't reach your cells.
There are three common types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes: patients living with type 1 diabetes do not make enough insulin as your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in children and young adults, and individuals living with type 1 must take insulin every day to stay alive.
Type 2 diabetes: patients living with type 2 diabetes do not make insulin or use insulin well. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and can develop at any age, although this type of diabetes most often occurs with middle-aged and older individuals.
Gestational diabetes: gestational diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant; most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born, however, it can lead to a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
According to data from the CDC, more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. The data shows that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans - 9.4 percent of the U.S. population - have diabetes, with another 84.1 million that have prediabetes, a condition that often leads to type 2 diabetes if not treated. This translates to approximately 1.34 million people in Ohio, or 13.5 percent of the adult population. Of these:
An estimated 286,000 have diabetes but don't know it
3.07 million people in Ohio (35.3% of the adult population) have prediabetes with blood glucose levels higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes
Every year an estimated 70,000 people in Ohio are diagnosed with diabetes
Most consequentially, patients with diabetes have medical expenses approximately 2.3 times higher than those who do not have diabetes. And, because diabetes is a complicated disease, the causes of both type 1 and type 2 are not well understood; however, there is promising and optimistic research coming out regarding utilizing cannabis for both the treatment, and prevention of diabetes - although large-scale testing is still needed to show definitive correlations between cannabis and diabetes treatment.
Treating Diabetes with Cannabis
Research thus far has been unable to conclusively correlate between cannabis use and diabetes prevention, although a 2012 study published in BMJ Open found a 58% reduced risk of developing diabetes associated with cannabis use.
Of most interest, according to The Diabetes Council, the correlation between cannabis and diabetes treatment may lie in the anti-inflammatory capabilities of cannabinoids. Furthermore, according to cannabisMD.com, research that has been conducted has shown that the use of cannabis may help with:
Stabilizing blood sugars
Preventing nerve inflammation
Lowering blood pressure over time
Keeping blood vessels open
Research has also found, according to Forbes, that cannabinoids may be more effective than existing diabetes medication(s). The Diabetes Council research has found that, for type 1 diabetes, CBD can reduce the occurrence and delay the onset of diabetes, and further the THC enzyme has been found to suppress the autoimmune response of the disease, reducing the amount of insulin needed during treatment. For those suffering from type 2 diabetes, CBD may fix an endocannabinoid imbalance that makes it harder for people to lose weight. Furthermore, CBD may also help reduce insulin resistance.
The Role of CBD in Diabetes Treatment
According to Leafly, the Republic of Vanuatu, a Pacific island chain comprising dozens of small islands, this year was working with Denver-based CBD producer Phoenix Life Sciences International to conduct a series of short-term studies with Vanuatu diabetic patients using a treatment of imported CBD - a 1,000 person trial at the country's main hospital.
Dr. Philip Blair, the diabetes director for Phoenix Life's medical advisory council and an Army-trained physician who has specialized in kidney disease and disease management, told Leafly, "cannabinoids can play a crucial role in helping the body recover from dangerous conditions that occur with diabetes." Furthermore, Janet Burns of Leafly expanded, "there are other conditions that can go along with diabetes, such as cancer, kidney failure, and dementia—all of which Blair said he’s seen improve significantly with cannabinoid treatment...he found that his patients showed 'significant improvements' in blood glucose and liver function. Continuing his observations, he found the benefits didn’t end there:
I saw a gentleman who’d had diabetes for over 10 years, with extensive neuropathy, and after starting to use CBD, he said he could feel the grass beneath his feet for the first time in years.” Other patients were able to reduce their insulin use or stop insulin entirely.
The Role of THCV in Diabetes Treatment
7 years ago, CNN covered a number of recent developments in understanding the treatment of diabetes with cannabis, including a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2010 found cannabis users "showed fasting insulin levels that were 16% lower than those of former or never users, along with a 17% reduction in another measure of insulin resistance as well."
Dr. Murray Mittleman, an associated professor at Harvard Medical School, told reporters that, “users of marijuana appeared to have a better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers...fasting insulin levels were lower, and they appeared to be less resistant to the insulin produced by their body to maintain a normal blood-sugar level.” Leafly argues that "this metabolic boost has something to do with the way cannabinoids interact with insulin."
It is natural to assume that these results are as a result of CBD, and while that is true, there is another cannabinoid that may play a pivotal role in the future of diabetes treatment with cannabis: THCV. Research shows promise in THCV’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. So, let's take a look at some high-THCV cannabis strains for your next dispensary trip!
While it can be difficult to find cannabis strains with significant amounts of THCV, Leafly suggests looking for African sativas, such as Durban Poison, or find a hybridized African genetic such as Cherry Pie. Ultimately, once cultivators opt to include cannabinoid contents in addition to THC, THCA, CBD, and CBDA, the testing results of strains available in Ohio dispensaries will make the process of finding high-THCV strains easy! In the meantime, look out for the following strains that are generally high in THCV.
Common Cannabis Strains for the Treatment of Crohn's Disease and Associated Symptom(s)
GSC (Durban Poison x OG Kush) | Caryophyllene, Limonene, Humulene
Durban Cheese (Durban Poison x Cheese) | Caryophyllene, Limonene, Humulene
Cherry Pie (Durban Poison x Granddaddy Purple) | Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Pinene
Dutch Treat | Terpinolene, Myrcene, Ocimene
Skunk #1 (Colombian Gold x Afghani) | Myrcene, Limonene, Pinene
Face Off OG (Durban Poison x Cheese) | Myrcene, Limonene, Caryophyllene
Durban Poison (African) | Terpinolene, Myrcene, Pinene
Tangie (California Orange x Skunk) | Myrcene, Pinene, Caryophyllene
Jack The Ripper (Jack's Cleaner x Space Queen) | Limonene, Pinene
Doug's Varin | *rare strain*
Pineapple Purps | *rare strain*
Based on the terpene profiles of the suggested strains, it would appear that the primary terpenes that should be utilized for glaucoma treatment include caryophyllene, pinene, limonene, and myrcene. Furthermore, the cannabinoids CBD and THCV appear most promising for the treatment of diabetes.
To find the strains best for chronic pain associated with diabetes, such as neuropathic pain, click here.
To find the closest dispensary to you, click here. You can also find the best dispensary prices here, and you can find all of the discounts and deals offered to veteran and indigent status patients here.
If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.
Click here to learn more about what Ohio Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (866-457-5559) and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.