US researchers find cannabis can help control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics

by Barbara Hewitt on May 17, 2013

US researchers find cannabis can help control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics

US researchers find cannabis can help control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics

The use of cannabis as a health treatment is highly controversial but now a new study has suggested that smoking the drug may help protect against type 2 diabetes. Researchers in the United States have found that regular users of the drug have better blood sugar control but the effects wear off over time.

The team at the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, analysed data on almost 5,000 patients who were quizzed about their use of recreational drugs as part of the National Health and Nutrition Survey between 2005 and 2010. They found that 2,103 had never used cannabis, 975 had used the drug in the past but were not current users, and 579 had inhaled or ingested it in the past month.

Tests showed that current users had 16% lower fasting insulin levels and reduced insulin resistance than those who had never used cannabis. Non-users also had larger waistlines and lower levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL or good) cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Team leader Murray Mittleman said that the same benefits were seen among participants who had used the drug in the past but the associations were not as strong, indicating that the effects of cannabis use on insulin levels and insulin sensitivity wear off over time. ‘Previous epidemiologic studies have found lower prevalence rates of obesity and diabetes mellitus in marijuana users compared to people who have never used marijuana, suggesting a relationship between cannabinoids and peripheral metabolic processes, but ours is the first to investigate the relationship between marijuana use and fasting insulin, glucose, and insulin resistance,’ he explained.

Quote from : “Cannabis may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. levelsmay need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.”

‘These are remarkable observations that are supported by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions,’ said Professor Joseph Alpert of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and editor in chief of the American Journal of Medicine, which published the findings. ‘We desperately need a great deal more basic and clinical research into the short and long term effects of marijuana in a variety of clinical settings such as cancer, diabetes and frailty of the elderly,’ he added.

Smoking cannabis is illegal in many countries although there have been moves to make it permissible for medical conditions and rules are more lax in some countries, such as the Netherlands. In the United States, 19 states have legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes by patients with one of several conditions including multiple sclerosis and cancer, while recreational use of the drug is now legal in two states, Colorado and Washington.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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