Marijuana & Diabetes – How Science is Breaking Stereotypes

marijuana and diabetes

As a California girl, I am a supporter of marijuana. That being said, I feel like it’s my duty to preface this post by saying that though I support cannabis as a herb, it is still technically an offense under US federal law. So, make good choices, check up on your local laws, and do your research before partaking in this activity.

Even so, with its legal obscurity and all, marijuana seems to be the obsession of young (and old) generations. As a recreational drug, it has a weird way of uniting people in a very fun, relaxed style. As a medicinal drug, it has changed lives for many people battling cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, and pain disorders, to name a few.

marijuana and diabetesAs such, it has understandably become the focus of much research in the past decade. Naturally, this investigation (and curiosity) led to the topic of diabetes. While marijuana has been a favorite treatment method—or symptom manager—for many diseases, it has raised serious questions in the diabetes community. So, to better understand these issues and the bottom line of whether or not it’s a good idea to light up, let’s first take a look at the herb itself.

General Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana plays on the cannabinoid receptors in our brains via the THC compound found in the plant. When the THC connects with these receptors, it reduces anxiety. This attachment can lead to a few key experiences that most marijuana users know well:

  • Sense of euphoria
  • Relaxed, happy state
  • More talkative and open
  • Lightened mood
  • Decrease pain and discomfort

Marijuana has also been found to increase metabolism and reduce cholesterol. In fact, marijuana users typically have smaller waistlines, which goes absolutely
against the lazy stereotype that many people have of users.

marijuana and diabetesI can’t adequately talk about marijuana without also looking at the adverse effects, though. Some people experience the opposite the effects of THC than the ones listed above. Because THC suppresses anxiety, this action is suspected to send signals to the brain to compensate by generating a more of an aggressive, anxious response. For these (unfortunate) people, the experience may be less pleasant. Adverse effects from smoking marijuana include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Light-headedness
  • General sense of doom

It’s the last bullet point that gets ya, isn’t it? Because of theses unwanted secondary effects, marijuana is not a substance that should be taken lightly.

Marijuana & Diabetes: the Pros

Marijuana is used as a medicinal herb almost as often as it is used recreationally. As far as science goes, here are the benefits of marijuana for diabetics:

  • Marijuana has been shown to stabilize blood sugar. In 2013, a group of researchers found that marijuana users had lower fasting insulin levels and lower insulin resistance than non-smokers. This finding was true for both diabetics and non-diabetics, making it perhaps the most astonishing result.
  • Marijuana can help stabilize blood pressure. While high blood pressure isn’t a direct symptom of diabetes, it is a crucial vital sign to monitor as diabetics often suffer from heart conditions as a result of the disease. Long-term use can help lower blood pressure in users according to collective research.
  • Users can benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties as the active components of marijuana has shown to reduce inflammation in the arteries, nerves, and muscles, each of which are compromised with diabetes.
  • Marijuana is also known for improving circulation by dilating the blood vessels, thus overthrowing the opposite effect of diabetes on blood vessels and circulation.

Marijuana & Diabetes: the Cons

Though there are many reasons to support the use of marijuana medically, there are also some serious risks that come with it.

  • The notoriously known effects of altered perception can make it difficult for  diabetics to feel oncoming highs or lows. This side effect can be quite dangerous and can lead to fatal consequences.
  • Marijuana is also known for causing the munchies, a period of insatiable appetite to the point of engorging oneself. For diabetics, overeating can be deadly if not properly prepared for.
  • Paranoia and anxiety can turn your supposedly fun experience into a nightmare, putting you at risk of highs and lows.

This post is not to say that marijuana is good or bad–not at all. I don’t know you or your life, and I am certainly not a doctor. But with its prevalence and popularity, it is important that everyone is fully aware of the potential effects of marijuana before consuming.

Choose carefully and be safe!

[expand title=”References“]

American Journal of Medicine. URL Link. Accessed February 20, 2017. URL Link. Accessed February 20, 2017.

CNN pot map. URL Link. Accessed February 20, 2017.

Beyond Type 1. URL Link. Accessed February 20, 2017.

A Sweet Life. URL Link. Accessed February 20, 2017.

The Alternative Daily. URL Link. Accessed February 20, 2017.

Experimental Pharmacology. URL Link. Accessed February 20, 2017.


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