Diabetes, Cannabis and Barbados

Diabetes in Barbados is a serious issue. After reading the article I am sharing with you, I wondered what were the levels of Diabetes in younger Barbadians who consumed cannabis daily. Maybe it would still be high as most young people who use cannabis also drink a lot of alcohol. It would be good to have that research done. I would gamble that Diabetes within the rum drinking community (80% Barbados) is high. I think if we use research done globally and started doing some of our own we could find solutions to some of the afflictions that plague of nation, through the use of cannabis. How can Baba Cannabis assist us this time?

There are several studies that show cannabis helps improve blood sugar control and helps with weight loss. Yes, it is well known that cannabis does cause an increase in appetite – ‘the munchies’ but cannabis seems to positively affect the metabolism so weight gain does not appear to be an issue. Cannabis appears to improve carbohydrate metabolism in users.

Researchers still aren’t totally clear on what is causing the change in metabolism amongst cannabis users but note from previous work that drugs that block cannabinoid receptors have positive impact on carbohydrate metabolism.

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The editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Medicine, Joseph S. Alpert, M.D., made his opinion clear in the editorial alongside the study: “I would like to call on the NIH and the DEA to collaborate in developing policies to implement solid scientific investigations that would lead to information assisting physicians in the proper use and prescription of THC in its synthetic or herbal form.”

This study, ‘The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults,” was published in the American Journal of Medicine in July 2013.

“Of the participants in our study sample, 579 were current marijuana users and 1975 were past users. In multivariable adjusted models, current marijuana use was associated with 16% lower fasting insulin levels and 17% lower HOMA-IR (insulin resistance). We found significant associations between marijuana use and smaller waist circumferences.”

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Research on Diabetes & Cannabis Says…

While there’s some conflicting evidence on marijuana’s role in delaying the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, research shows it is beneficial indeed for those already diagnosed with either type 1 or 2, and especially for those who suffer complications.

A milestone study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2013 concluded:

  • Cannabis compounds may help control blood sugar
  • Marijuana users are less likely to be obese, and have lower body mass index (BMI) measurements — even though they seemed to take in more calories
  • Pot smokers also had higher levels of “good cholesterol” and smaller waistlines

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“The most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than non-users. Their fasting insulin levels were lower, and they appeared to be less resistant to the insulin produced by their body to maintain a normal blood-sugar level,” Murray Mittleman, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead researcher told TIME magazine.

In 2014, a “summary of the promising epidemiological evidence” on marijuana in the management of diabetes published in the Natural Medicine Journal also concluded that in thousands of subjects, past and current marijuana use was associated with lower levels of fasting insulin, blood glucose, insulin resistance, BMI, and waist circumference.

And in 2015, Israeli researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem released a study showing that the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol (CBD), a compound found in cannabis, could effectively be used to treat different illnesses including type 2 diabetes.

There’s also compelling scientific evidence that cannabis can aid in treating diabetes complications, for example eye disease; cannabis reduces the intraocular pressure (fluid pressure in the eye) considerably in people with glaucoma, which is caused by conditions that severely restrict blood flow to the eye, like diabetic retinopathy.

How Can Marijuana Help You? (with Diabetes)

So, let’s say you were using marijuana, or wanted to try it. What would the effect be on your diabetes?

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Several PWDs report that with regular use, they see lower blood sugar levels and reduced A1c results over time. The existing scientific evidence shows that marijuana influences improving insulin resistance — helpful for people type 2 diabetes, but generally not for type 1s. For them, there’s little more than anecdotal evidence to go on.

However, as mentioned, there is a whole body of evidence showing that marijuana is effective in treating eye disorders, chronic pain, sleep disorders, and several other ailments often associated with diabetes. So, if you are living with one or more complications of diabetes, marijuana may very well ease your pain or slow the progression of the disorder you’re living with.

The area of mental health is a big one for marijuana, as it has been shown to effectively treat everything from clinical depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. Why is this? One answer may come from a study published in February 2015, showing that marijuana use in animals helped restore brain levels of endocannabinoids — which affect emotion and behavior, and have been linked to reduced feelings of pain and anxiety, and increased feelings of well-being.

Of course, some people with depression will not do well on marijuana, as it can also increase feelings of anxiety and paranoia in some people.

The biggest risk of marijuana use with diabetes is probably hypoglycaemia; there are a lot of concerns that PWDs’ glucose levels will drop, unnoticed by the patient until they are in dangerous territory.

So, in other words: marijuana *could* help you reduce blood glucose levels, feel better, more relaxed and pain-free, but you also need to be careful.

Written by Tonkabean and first published in CANNAMed, Jamaica


Penner EA, Buettner H, Mittleman MA. (2013 July). The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults. The American Journal of Medicine126 (7), Pages 583–589.

The American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (2005). Diabetes Part IV – Treatment with Cannabis.

Szalavitz, M. (2013 May). Marijuana: The Next Diabetes Drug? Time.

Weiss,L , Zeira, M, Reich, S. (2008 January). Cannabidiol arrests onset of autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice. Neuropharmacology, 54 (1), Pages 244–249.

El-Remessy, AB, Khalifa, Y. (2006). Neuroprotective and Blood-Retinal Barrier-Preserving Effects of Cannabidiol in Experimental Diabetes. The American Journal of Pathology 168(1), 235–244.

Sensi Seeds (2015). Top 5 benefits of cannabis for diabetes.

Butterfield, D. (2016). Does Cannabis Help with Diabetes Treatment? Herb.

Tenderich, A. (2016 January). Treating Diabetes with Cannabis? Healthline.

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