The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana
Inc. and none should be inferred.
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease that prevents the body from
properly utilizing glucose. Studies have shown marijuana reduces the risk of
diabetes, can help treat diabetes once its developed, and assists in the
management of pain associated with the disease.
Overview of Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus, also commonly simply referred to as diabetes, is a group
of diseases that influences how the body uses glucose. Glucose, or blood
sugar, is an important source of fuel for the body’s cells and is the main
source of energy for the brain. In diabetes, there is too much glucose in
the bloodstream. Glucose builds up because of an issue with insulin, a
hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to process and use
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent
diabetes, commonly affects children and teenagers and occurs when the
pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for
90 to 95% of all diabetes cases, occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce
enough insulin or the body’s cells fail to respond to insulin properly.
Having too much glucose in the blood can lead to serious health problems,
including cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage,
foot damage, skin conditions and hearing impairment.
The symptoms associated with diabetes include increased thirst and frequent
urination, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, extreme hunger, irritability,
blurred vision, presence of ketones in urine, dry and itchy skin, and
The case of type 1 diabetes continues to be unknown. The body’s immune
system accidentally attacks and destroys the cells within the pancreas that
produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is linked to being overweight and a lack of
Treatments for diabetes commonly include the encouragement of healthy eating
and regular exercise to lower body weight. In addition, regularly monitoring
blood sugar is important for those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Insulin
injections may be needed to adjust blood glucose levels.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Diabetes
Cannabis use has been found to have an inverse association with diabetes (Alshaarawy
& Anthony, 2015). Those who use cannabis have a lower incidence of the
disease. This inverse relationship has been seen both in animal and human
In animal trials, one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD),
was shown to significantly reduce both pro-inflammatory cytokines in the
bloodstream and the incidence of diabetes in non-obese mice (Weiss, et al.,
2006). Later, those same researchers followed up with a similar study, but
with rodents that were either in a latent diabetes stage or with initial
symptoms of diabetes and found that CBD was effective at curtailing the
manifestations of the disease. Only 30% of the CBD-treated mice ended up
developing diabetes (Weiss, et al., 2008). Research has also found that CBD
treatments in rats for one to four weeks received significant protection
from diabetic retinopathy (El-Remessy, et al., 2006). Another cannabinoid
found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), produced several beneficial
effects reducing the risk of diabetes in obese mice, including reducing
glucose intolerance, improving glucose tolerance and increasing insulin
sensitivity (Wargent, et al., 2013).
In human studies, cannabis use has been correlated to a lower prevalence of
diabetes (Rajavashisth, et al., 2012). An observational trial found that
individuals that had used cannabis within the last 30 days experienced both
lower fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance (Penner, Buettner &
Mittleman, 2013). Other researchers found that those who consumed cannabis
in the past year were more likely to possess a lower body mass index, lower
fasting insulin and lower insulin resistance compared to non-users (Ngueta,
Belanger, Laouan-Sidi & Lucas, 2015). In HIV-HCV infected patients, in which
the risk of diabetes is higher, cannabis has been shown to be associated
with a lower insulin resistance risk, thus demonstrating its potential as a
therapeutic option (Carrieri, et al., 2015).
CBD and THC act upon the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) of the
endocannabinoid system, which stimulates anti-inflammatory and analgesic
responses. Because of cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects, researchers have
concluded that it can serve as a viable therapeutic option in the treatment
of inflammatory diseases, like diabetes (Croxford & Yamamura, 2005). One
study found that administering CBD weakened oxidative stress, inflammation,
cell death and fibrosis, suggesting that it possesses great therapeutic
potential (Rajesh, et al., 2010). An animal study found that action on the
CB1 receptor decreased non-fasting plasma glucose, improved glycemic
response to glucose and enhanced insulin sensitivity (Irwin, Hunter,
Frizzell & Flatt, 2008).
Cannabis can also assist in the management of pain associated with diabetes.
In numerous studies, administering cannabis in mice reduced diabetic-related
tactile allodynia, or pain resulting from a non-injurious stimulus to the
skin (Dogrul, et al., 2004) (Ulugol, et al., 2004). One placebo-controlled
study found that inhaled cannabis was effective at reducing diabetic
peripheral neuropathy pain that had otherwise proven refractory to treatment
(Wallace, et al., 2015).
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Diabetes
No states have specifically approved medical marijuana for the treatment of
diabetes. However, a number of other states will consider allowing medical
marijuana to be used for the treatment of diabetes with the recommendation
from a physician. These states include: California (any
debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended
by a physician), Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection), Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other
conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other
conditions subject to approval), Rhode
conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any
“terminal or debilitating condition”).
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
In addition, Illinois has
approved medical marijuana for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy, which
can occur in those with diabetes. Several states have approved medical
marijuana specifically to treat “chronic pain.” These
states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New
Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Vermont.
The states of Nevada, New
Dakota, Montana, Ohio and Vermont allow
medical marijuana to treat “severe pain.” The states of Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have
approved cannabis for the treatment of “intractable pain.”
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Diabetes
Individuals that used marijuana within the last 30 days experienced
lower fasting insulin levels and lower insulin resistance.
The impact of marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance
among US adults. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23684393)
Marijuana users found to have a lower prevalence of diabetes compared to
Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional
data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
Recently active cannabis smoking is inversely associated with diabetes.
Cannabis Smoking and Diabetes Mellitus: Results from Meta-analysis with
Eight Independent Replication Samples.
Alshaarawy, O., and Anthony, J.C. (2015, July). Cannabis Smoking and
Diabetes Mellitus: Results from Meta-analysis with Eight Independent
Replication Samples. Epidemiology,
Carrieri, M.P., Serfaty, L., Vilotitch, A., Winnock, M., Poizot-Martin, I.,
Loko, M., Lions, C., Lascoux-Combe, C., Roux, P., Salmon-Ceron, D., Spire,
B., and Dabis, F. (2015, March 16). Cannabis use and reduced risk of insulin
resistance in HIV-HCV infected patients: a longitudinal analysis (ANRS CO13
Croxford, J.L., and Yamamura, T. (2005, September). Cannabinoids and the
immune system: potential for the treatment of inflammatory diseases? Journal
Diabetes. (2014, May). FamilyDoctor.org.
Retrieved from http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/diabetes.printerview.all.html.
Diabetes. (2014, July 31). Mayo
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/basics/definition/con-20033091.
Dogrul, A., Gul, H., Yildiz, O., Bilgin, F., and Guzeldemir, M.E. (2004,
September 16). Cannabinoids blocks tactile allodynia in diabetic mice
without attentuation of its antinociceptivee effect. Neuroscience
El-Remessy, A.B., Al-Shabrawey, M., Khalifa, Y., Tsai, N.T., Caldwell, R.B.,
and Liou, G.I. (2006, January). Neuroprotective and blood-retinal
barrier-preserving effects of cannabidiol in experimental diabetes. American
Journal of Pathology,
Irwin, N., Hunter, K., Frizzell, N., and Flatt, P.R. (2008, February 26).
Antidiabetic effects of sub-chronic administration of the cannabinoid
receptor (CB1) antagonist, AM251, in obese diabetic (ob/ob) mice. European
Journal of Pharmacology,
Ngueta, G., Belanger, R.E., Laouan-Sidi, E.A., and Lucas, M. (2015,
February). Cannabis use in relation to obesity and insulin resistance in the
inuit population. Obesity,
Penner, E.A., Buettner, H., and Mittleman, M.A. (2013, July). The impact of
marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance among US adults. The
American Journal of Medicine,
Rajavashisth, T.B., Shaheen, M., Norris, K.C., Pan, D., Sinha, S.K., Oretega,
J., Friedman, T.C. (2012). Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana
users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey (NHANES) III. BMJ
Rajesh, M., Mukhopadhyay, P., Batkai, S., Patel, V., Saito, K., Matsumoto,
S., Kashiwaya, Y., Horvath, B., Mukhopadhyay, B., Becker, L., Hasko, G.,
Liaudet, L., Wink, D.A., Veves, A., Mechoulam, R., and Pacher, P. (2010,
December 14). Cannabidiol attentuates cardiac dysfunction, oxidative stress,
fibrosis, and inflammatory and cell death signaling pathways in diabetic
of the American College of Cardiology,
Ulugol, A., Karadag, H.C., Ipci, Y., Tamer, M., and Dokmeci, I. (2004,
November 23). The effect of WIN 55, 212-2, a cannabinoid agonist, on tactile
allodynia in diabetic rats. Neuroscience
Wallace, M.S., Marcotte, T.D., Umlauf, A., Gouaux, B., and Atkinson, J.H.
(2015, July). Efficacy of Inhaled Cannabis on Painful Diabetic Neuropathy. Journal
Wargent, E.T., Zaibi, M.S., Silvestri, C., Hislop, D.C., Stocker, C.J.,
Stott, C.G., Guy, G.W., Duncan, M., Di Marzo, V., and Cawthorne, M.A. (2013,
May 27). The cannabinoid 9-tetrahycrocannabivarian (THCV) ameliorates
insulin sensitivity in two mouse models of obesity. Nutrition
Weiss, L., Zeira, M., Reich, S., Har-Noy, M., Mechoulam, R., Slavin, S., and
Gallily, R. (2006, March). Cannabidiol lowers incidence of diabetes in
non-obese diabetic mice. Autoimmunity,
Weiss, L., Zeira, M., Reich, S., Slavin, S., Raz, I., Mechoulam, R., and
Gallily, R. (2008, January). Cannabidiol arrests onset of autoimmune
diabetes in NOD mice. Neuropharmacology,
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