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Marijuana and Diabetes: An Investigation into Treatment Options

Marijuana and Diabetes: An Investigation of marijuana as a treatment for diabetes.

The development of treatment options of various disease states, illnesses, and ailments, is an evolving process that considers many chemical and biological mechanisms for managing symptoms, as well as bodily behaviors in response to such treatments. Diabetes is described as a chronic disease which has debilitating effects on sufferers, and can even be fatal (Diabetes 2015, a). Diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin, or the body’s inability to properly use the insulin it produces (Diabetes 2015, a).

The hormone insulin is responsible for the control of the sugar glucose within the blood (Diabetes 2015, a). Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is also released by the pancreas when blood sugar levels are too high – via beta cells (Diabetes 2015, a). Insulin facilitates the intake of sugar to lower blood sugar levels and can also communicate the need to store excess sugar as fat (Diabetes 2015, a). Diabetes results in high blood sugar levels which may damage organs, blood vessels, or nerves (Diabetes 2015, a). The body needs insulin as a means of managing sugar, so that it can utilize it as an effective energy source (Diabetes 2015, a).

There are two types of Diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2 (Diabetes 2015, a). Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system (Diabetes 2015, a). The immune system mistakenly attacks and kills the beta cells of the pancreas, and because of this, very small amounts of insulin are effectively released to the body for the management of blood sugar (Diabetes 2015, a). Due to these circumstances, blood sugar levels remain high (Diabetes 2015, a). Type 1 diabetes occurs in 5-10% of people with diabetes and is treated with insulin and managed by planning meals (Diabetes 2015, a).

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to use the insulin it produces or does not make enough insulin. This results in the accumulation of sugar in the blood (Diabetes 2015, a). About 90% of individuals with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes (Diabetes 2015, a). Type 2 diabetes can generally be managed by physical activity and meal planning, but may require medication such as insulin or other blood sugar managing products (Diabetes 2015, a).

The treatment of diabetes with marijuana is not something people typically consider, but there are potential areas where investigation could not only be beneficial, but also groundbreaking. Before going over some of the possible benefits – first concerns should be addressed. Diabetes.co.uk suggests that cannabis may have negative effects on meal planning due to memory and concentration distortion related to cannabis. Secondly, they suggest that an increase in appetite due to “munchies” may be a negative factor towards individuals with diabetes. And lastly, that impaired glucose tolerance and hyperglycemia may be present where cannabis is heavily used (Diabetes 2015, b).
Alternatively, there is another train of thought to counter the negative list of concerning factors, in which there seems to be some areas where the use of cannabinoids (or even marijuana), may serve an interesting role. An article published by the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) is reported on by Diabetes.co.uk and suggests that there is a large body of evidence to suggest that marijuana can effectively stabilize blood sugars (Diabetes 2015, b). Further evidence suggests that marijuana can suppress some of the arterial inflammation that is commonly recognized and experienced by diabetics – arterial inflammation which is a factor leading to cardiovascular disease (Diabetes 2015, b).

Next, marijuana use has been found to prevent nerve inflammation and to ease the pain of neuropathy, which is listed as the most common complication of diabetes (Diabetes 2015, b). This factor alone may justify the need for a thorough level of investigation being conducted into the potential of marijuana, cannabinoids, or derivatives in the treatment of diabetes symptoms. Evidence does exist to suggest that marijuana use can help in keeping blood vessels open & improve circulation, and can actually lower blood pressure over time, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and other complications pertaining to diabetes (Diabetes 2015, b). Finally, marijuana can reduce tingling in the feet and hands that is associated with neuropathy, and can relieve muscle cramps and pain from gastrointestinal (GI) disorders (Diabetes 2015, b).
One other interesting justification in utilizing marijuana and cannabinoid compounds as a means of symptom treatment, involves the reduction of pressure to the eye for individuals with glaucoma, which can arise due to diabetic retinopathy – in which blood flow is severely restricted from the eye (Diabetes 2015, b).

It should be noted that there presently exists two companies with an active interest in the investigation of the effects of marijuana and cannabinoids on diabetes. GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH) has a belief that obesity related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes may be treated using cannabis, and they have discovered two leaf compounds which increase energy expenditure of the body (Diabetes 2015, b). The second company has yet to publish any finding with regards to medical applications for marijuana in regards to diabetes, but their addition of a well-known researcher in the field of diabetes should be noted for future reference. On August 4th, 2014, Dr. Jonathan Lakey was announced as the Chief Scientific Officer of Stem Cell & Tissue Research for CEN Biotech Inc. (OTC: FITX) and Dr. Jonathan Lakey (MarketWired 2014). Jonathan Lakey has published hundreds of publications regarding activities within many disciplines, but his work with regards to Diabetes research involved the development of the Edmonton Protocol (Wikipedia 2009; UCI News 2013). The Edmonton protocol is a process that involves the isolation of islets from a cadaveric donor pancreas using the enzyme liberase, and recipients may receive islets from as many as three donors (Wikipedia 2009; UCI News 2013). The infusion of the islets occurs via the patient’s portal vein, which conducts blood from the gastrointestinal tract and spleen to the liver (Wikipedia 2009; UCI News 2013). Dr. Jonathan’s medical experience and his knowledge of diabetes may one day serve as an asset to this company for the discovery and development of novel techniques for treating diabetes symptoms, and possibly even diabetes itself.

The evidence would suggest that far more research must be conducted to investigate how marijuana and diabetes interact, and whether any medically viable means exists for more effective application. MMJ.Today is a great place to learn more about this research as it unfolds, and encourages readers to follow along and share any comments you may have, while industry barriers are breached in legitimizing marijuana as an effective medicine.

Alexander Watchurst

References

Diabetes. (2015). a. Types of diabetes. Canadian Diabetes Association. Accessed on April 26, 2015. Retrieved fromhttps://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/types-of-diabetes

Diabetes. (2015. b. Cannabis and diabetes. Diabetes.co.uk. Accessed on April 27, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.co.uk/recreational-drugs/cannabis.html

MarketWired. (2014). Press Release: Creative edge nutrition inc. announces the addition of dr. Jonathan Lakey as the chief scientific officer of stem cell & tissue research. Source: Creative Edge Nutrition. Accessed on April 27, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.marketwired.com/…/creative-edge-nutrition-inc-an…– jonathan-lakey-as-chief-science-officer-pinksheets-fitx-1935042.htm

UCI News. (2013). UCI researchers awarded $2.27 million to create novel diabetes treatment. UCI News. Accessed on April 27, 2015. Retrieved from http://news.uci.edu/press-releases/uci– researchers-awarded-2-27-million-to-create-novel-diabetes-treatments/

Wikipedia. (2009). Edmonton Protocol. Wikipedia. Accessed on April 27, 2015. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmonton_protocol

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