Does Weed Help With Diabetes? Relief & Benefits
This post is part of our Best Dispensaries in Arizona series, brought to you by SWC Arizona.
Note: The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your doctor or another qualified health professional before making any changes to your treatment or if you have any concerns about your mental health. Do not ignore or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read here.
The prevalence of diabetes in the United States alone is astounding, with around 10.5% of the population having the metabolic disease. That’s almost 38 million people in our nation who suffer from insulin resistance, and truth be told, many are unaware that they have such a potentially life-threatening condition. But what is diabetes exactly?
People with diabetes are unable to produce enough of the hormone insulin, or their bodies are incapable of using it as well as it should. Lack of insulin, or our cells’ lack of response to insulin, can lead to dangerously high levels of blood sugar in our bloodstream. But why does this matter? Because too much sugar in the bloodstream can eventually lead to other serious health issues if left unmanaged. Such health problems include heart and kidney disease, vision loss, and obesity.
There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be triggered by an autoimmune reaction to environmental factors or genetics, wherein the body mistakenly attacks itself and destroys beta cells located in the pancreas, responsible for producing the insulin. This destructive process can happen over several months, even years, without being noticed. This type of diabetes is for life, and it affects your body, mind, and pretty much everything.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is preventable, and can stem from genes and family history, genetic mutations, endocrine disorders, damage or removal of the pancreas, and more. You have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you are overweight, which is why it is vital to get regular exercise and adapt healthy eating habits to prevent, delay, and manage diabetes.
Once diagnosed with diabetes, there are many treatment routes you can go to help manage it and monitor blood sugar levels, most of which are excessively expensive, even with insurance. There are also more unconventional approaches you can take to help regulate blood sugar levels and put other symptoms at bay, including consuming cannabis.
So, does weed help with diabetes? Let’s explore how weed and diabetes interact to understand how weed can be used as a medicine to treat symptoms associated with diabetes.
Table of Contents
Weed and Diabetes
Questions like “Does weed help with diabetes” and “Can diabetics smoke weed” may be crossing your mind, and we are here to offer some clarity on how weed and diabetes are correlated.
For starters, consuming weed can potentially help increase sensitivity to insulin; in other words, it may be able to lower the risk of insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes, as well as help stabilize blood sugar levels. Weed may also be able to help lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95% of people with diabetes.
Additionally, weed has the potential to reduce neuropathic pain because of its anti-inflammatory properties, which work to open up blood vessels and improve circulation and let blood flow. Improved circulation can relieve tingling in several areas of the body such as the feet and hands, a symptom people with diabetes may experience.
When uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to other challenging health conditions such as diabetic retinopathy–damage to the eyes that can lead to partial or total vision loss, and peripheral neuropathy–which leads to nerve damage in arms and legs. It’s a miracle that one substance could possibly help with everything from pain management and relief to increased circulation and protection from nerve damage. This is especially great for those looking for short-term pain relief but happen to be resistant to other types of treatments.
Another bonus to marijuana consumption is that it can potentially help you manage your weight. Several studies indicate that marijuana use is associated with reduced waist circumference, which is beneficial to those who are obese, as weight management can help make diabetes more tolerable.
That being said, answering a firm “yes” to the question “Is weed good for diabetes?” is a bit tough. There are some risks associated with marijuana consumption that we’d be foolish not to include in this article. One study demonstrated that cannabis use multiplied the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis for people with type 1 diabetes. This risk was attributed to failure to handle diabetes properly, including increased intake of high-carb foods and forgetting to take medications–what may be due to being high and increased munchies and forgetfulness. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition where the body isn’t able to get enough glucose for energy and resorts to using other fuel, leading to the build up of blood acids and ketones.
Other studies reveal that cannabis use in diabetes sufferers have higher hemoglobin A1c test results. These tests measure the average blood glucose levels over a period of time, and consumption showed that there were fluctuations in blood sugar levels, causing more frequent blood sugar spikes and drops in people with diabetes, which can be a cause for concern in those who aren’t able to regulate their blood sugar properly.
Is Smoking Weed the Only Way to Consume THC for Diabetes Treatment?
If you’re not a fan of smoking or have respiratory issues, you’ll be pleased to know that there are tons of different forms of consuming marijuana for diabetes relief, including edibles, vape, oils, creams, and transdermal patches, and thc-infused beverages.
Cannabis alone is not thought to hike up your blood sugar, though it may cause cravings for sugary foods that will. The compounds in cannabis, when consumed, are believed to activate the hypothalamus–an area of the brain that controls hunger, metabolism, and energy levels. Activating this region of the brain is likely to induce hunger, causing a strong desire to eat. Craving foods that raise blood sugar can be dangerous for people with diabetes, which is why it is important to practice self-control when it comes to munching and what foods you munch–specifically avoiding foods that are high in carbs, saturated fat, salt, and sugar.
On that note, diabetes sufferers can experience blood sugar spikes higher than normal, known as hyperglycemia, or lower than average, known as hypoglycemia. Since edibles such as cookies, gummies and thc-infused drinks tend to have a lot of sugar, it may be best to avoid consumption of edibles if you have hyperglycemia, they can be harmful to people with diabetes due to high glucose and sucrose levels. On the contrary, sugary drinks or glucose tablets are essential to treat hypoglycemia, when your blood glucose levels get too low, so edibles may be a better option for those with this condition.
Of course, people with diabetes may still be able to have sweets and sugary foods as long as they are in moderation, and whilst sticking to a healthy meal plan and regular physical activity
Best Strains for Diabetes
As there is limited information on which weed strains are best to treat diabetes, we won’t guide you blindly to any particular strain. If you are feeling discomfort and pain, strains high in THC will possibly be your best bet. However, strains with both CBD and THC have anti-diabetic properties, and products with higher ratios of CBD to THC may help with cravings such as sugar cravings. If you are taking blood thinners–a diabetic medication–beware that taking CBD gummies in addition to this medication can increase risk of diarrhea.
Is Sativa or Indica Better For Diabetes?
Sativa and indica are both believed to offer benefits for those looking to treat diabetes with weed. Some studies demonstrate that sativa has potential to reverse intolerance to glucose, with potential to shrink your appetite. If you are experiencing tingling, nerve damage, pain, or inflammation, you may want to opt for indica as it is thought to contain many anti-inflammatory properties that can help with pain reduction.
How To Purchase Marijuana
SWC is arguably the best dispensary in Arizona, offering tons of varieties of weed products that can potentially help you to manage and ease symptoms of diabetes. They have an amazing, highly intelligent staff that is eager to assist you in finding the right products for you and your particular needs as they relate to diabetes, and shopping for medical marijuana has never been more exciting, considering SWC’s storefront is clean, organized, and downright vibey.
Of course, you’ll want to consult with a medical professional to understand how your current diabetes treatments might work with marijuana and to determine if marijuana is right for you, but once you have that squared away, SWC Arizona–with locations in Prescott and Tempe–should be your first stop.
Key Takeaways on Weed and Diabetes
Let’s run it back on what we learned after we answered the question “Does weed help with diabetes.”
- Weed is thought to facilitate blood sugar regulation and lower inflammation with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- Weed may also be able to help reduce neuropathic pain, prevent nerve damage, and assist weight management
- Certain conditions associated with diabetes are not to be overlooked, as weed may worsen such conditions
- Type 2 diabetes is believed to be preventable with lifestyle changes
- Hypoglycemia is when your blood sugar levels are low, and hyperglycemia is when your blood sugar levels are high
- It is important to practice self-discipline and control your cravings when you have the munchies, a result of consuming some kinds of cannabis products
- Avoid foods high in carbs, saturated fats, salt, and sugar
There ya have it! If you’re suffering or think you might be suffering from diabetes, it’s worth considering weed as a treatment option to help alleviate some of your symptoms. SWC’s full of goodies for you to try, and some might be more effective than others in providing you with what you need to manage your diabetes. Be sure to stay hydrated with tons of water throughout the day if you are consuming cannabis!
About the author: Courtney Pester is a San Diego based, San Francisco bred millennial with a passion for design and self-expression. She prides herself in her charcuterie board making skills and loves a good ocean dip. When she’s not pumping out articles, you can catch her playing tennis, writing songs, DJing, and enjoying the diversity of events and restaurants San Diego has to offer!
Media credits: Unless otherwise noted, images in this article are copyrighted by LaJolla.com.