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Why Marijuana May Be Good for Type 2 Diabetes and More

Marijuana and type 2 diabetes

It seems to be an unlikely pair: marijuana is typically associated with the munchies, while type 2 diabetes often develops in individuals who are overweight or obese. Yet a new study has noted why marijuana may be good for type 2 diabetes, while there is also evidence marijuana is good for even more.

What benefits does marijuana provide for diabetes?

Scores of studies have been performed to examine the benefits of using marijuana to treat a wide range of symptoms and diseases, and many of them deal with pain. However, a new study in The American Journal of Medicine explains that marijuana use has been shown to lower fasting insulin levels as well as reduce the chances of individuals being insulin resistant.

In fact, the investigators found that current users of marijuana had a 16 percent lower fasting insulin level than did nonusers. But that’s not all: current users of marijuana also showed some other benefits associated with both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease:

  • Users showed a higher level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels—also known as good cholesterol
  • Users also tended to have a smaller waist circumference than did nonusers. A large waist circumference is an indicator of metabolic syndrome and thus also for type 2 diabetes

Previous research on diabetes and marijuana
The current study is the first to explore the relationship between use of marijuana and its impact on fasting insulin, glucose, and insulin resistance. However, previous research has indicated that marijuana and its active ingredients cannabinoids have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes.

For example, a study reported in August 2012 from GW Pharmaceuticals noted that two substances in marijuana—cannabidiol (a non-psychoactive ingredient) and THCV—can boost the amount of calories the body burns. These two substances also can suppress the appetite for a short time.

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The authors of that study also noted that cannabidiol and THCV enhanced insulin sensitivity in animals and protected the beta cells, which produce insulin.

Marijuana offers other health benefits
Research on medical uses of marijuana has been growing and opening many new doors of opportunity. For example, a Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry study reported that a component in marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol can result in up to a 50 percent reduction in pain in people with multiple sclerosis.

Individuals who suffer with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease also may benefit from marijuana. Several studies have reported that marijuana can improve appetite, ability to work, depression, and pain, as well as reduce the need for medication.

In a New York based study, researchers from three different institutions reported that individuals with bipolar disorder who had a history of marijuana use showed “significantly better neurocognitive performance,” especially associated with working memory and attention than nonusers.

Use of marijuana for medical purposes continues to be a controversial topic, although more clinicians are accepting this possibility for their patients. This latest study indicating that marijuana can benefit type 2 diabetes is of great interest, although researchers have yet to determine why marijuana provides these advantages for type 2 diabetes patients.

Braga RJ et al. Cognitive and clinical outcomes associated with cannabis use in patients with bipolar I disorder. Psychiatry Research 2012 DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2012.05.025
Penner EA et al. The impact of marijuana use on glucose, insulin and insulin resistance among US adults. The American Journal of Medicine 2013 May 16

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