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Can Medical Marijuana Help With Type 2 Diabetes?

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There are almost 37 million people living in the United States who have diabetes, or 1 in every 10 Americans are diagnosed with the condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 85% of people with diabetes have Type 2.

Whether you are someone living with diabetes or a caregiver for someone diagnosed with the condition, managing the symptoms of diabetes can be a struggle. One of the most difficult symptoms that patients with diabetes face is neuropathic pain because it is not easily managed by conventional prescription medications. And it can be debilitating.

Many individuals with diabetes are exploring alternative medicine for pain, anxiety, stress, and other symptoms. In recent years, there have been some research studies that suggest cannabis may not only be helpful for symptom management, but some cannabinoids may also help preserve insulin sensitivity.

Some studies suggest that medical marijuana could help slow the progression or development of neurological pain and other problems associated with diabetes and provide other health benefits.

What Causes Diabetes?

Diabetes has a strong hereditary factor. A healthy pancreas produces insulin that is sufficient to regulate blood sugar levels so that no damage to nerves, immune system, or cardiovascular problems occurs. But if the pancreas is unable to produce the right amount of insulin for your body, that is when diabetes can develop as a chronic disease.

There is a stronger hereditary link for Type 1 diabetes, but people with Type 2 diabetes typically have a close family member (parent or sibling) with the condition. The more close relatives that have the condition, the higher the risk of developing diabetes. If no one in your family has been diagnosed with diabetes, you have a reduced risk of developing the condition.

There are two types of diabetes, but the most common is Type 2, which involves problems with insulin sensitivity. Obesity and lifestyle are two risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, and patients typically treat the condition with oral medications, such as Metformin and Glimepiride.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas, which impairs insulin production. Because Type 1 rapidly impacts insulin levels, patients are required to supplement insulin daily (or several times per day) by injection.

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What Are The Common Symptoms of Diabetes?

Juvenile diabetes and type 2 diabetes are the most common diagnoses in the United States. There are fewer patients diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The three diagnoses share common diabetes risk factors and symptoms.

The first step to treating diabetes is to understand the symptoms that may be caused by the chronic disease. The most common symptoms of diabetes are:

1. Frequent Urination

People experiencing insulin resistance typically have one of the most common diabetes symptoms: frequent urination. When blood sugar control is compromised, the kidneys start working overtime to try to remove excess sugar from the body. That causes more urine to be produced as the body attempts to cope with too much glucose and flush it out.

2. Dry Mouth and Thirst

High blood sugar levels can cause frequent thirst in people with diabetes. One of the main reasons for frequent thirst and dry mouth is dehydration of the cells. Previous research shows that excessive glucose pulls water from cells within the body. Increased urination also contributes to rapid dehydration.

3. Unexplained Weight Loss

Many people with diabetes have a high body mass index. Losing weight can help reduce some of the symptoms of diabetes; the pancreas produces insulin, and less body weight makes that insulin more effective.

Sometimes, when blood sugar levels are very high for sustained periods, the body can burn fat and muscle for energy (instead of using glucose or sugar). This can cause unhealthy and unintentional weight loss.

4. Genital Itching and Dry Skin

You’ve probably read that diabetes can cause dry and cracked skin on the feet, which may cause infections if not cared for properly. But did you know that diabetes can cause extreme itching in other areas of the body, too?

Nerve damage or neuropathy can happen in any area of the body for someone diagnosed with diabetes. Poor circulation causes diabetic neuropathy, which can also affect the genital area. Women with diabetes are also prone to vaginal dryness and frequent yeast infections if blood glucose is poorly controlled.

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5. Slow Wound Healing and Infections

Arterial inflammation can severely restrict blood flow. When you have a wound or infection, your body delivers white blood cells carrying orders from the immune system to fight disease. However, because blood flow is restricted (particularly in peripheral areas like feet, legs, and hands), poor blood circulation can impede healing.

People with diabetes are considered immunocompromised because of problems with normal immune system functioning. Combined with problems with nerve sensitivity, people with diabetes may not feel pain sensations when there is a wound or infection. That can lead to severe infections, necrosis, and sometimes gangrene if the patient doesn’t seek medical attention quickly.

For the same reasons, people with diabetes may also be slower to recover from the common cold, influenza, or other respiratory diseases like COVID-19. Diabetic neuropathic pain can also mask discomfort, making it difficult to assess the severity of an infection.

6. Eye Damage and Vision Problems

Eye damage is another possible symptom for patients with diabetes. High blood glucose levels combined with hypertension (high blood pressure) can damage eye blood vessels. It can also cause eye vessels to leak due to pressure and poor blood circulation, depriving the eyes of oxygen and nutrients.

Diabetes can cause swelling of the retina and vision problems. Without treatment, diabetic retinopathy can result in permanent vision loss. It is important for patients to have an eye examination once per year to monitor blood vessels and check for problems.

7. Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathy is caused by damage to the nerves. Sustained high blood glucose or sugar levels can significantly impair nerve cells, and for people with diabetes, neuropathy most commonly develops in the extremities, such as hands and fingers, toes, and legs.

Because damaged nerves cannot send signals to the brain correctly, it can lead to abnormal sensations such as tingling, numbness, burning, or pain the in affected areas.

Neuropathy can also lead to numbness, which increases the risk of injury from trip and fall incidents. It can also make infections or injuries harder to notice, which can lead to serious health problems.

8. Mood Problems

When blood sugars fluctuate, it can have a big impact on overall mood. Diabetes can adversely affect your body’s hormonal balance, which can create variances in mood from happy to tired and even angry or irritable.

When blood sugar levels are too low, people with diabetes are prone to feeling anxiety and irritability. In contrast, when blood sugar levels are too high, it can cause sleepiness, fatigue, and irritability. Stress and coping with the symptoms and healthcare requirements of diabetes can also radically impact the mood of patients.

Because managing a healthy blood glucose level is extremely difficult, and the increased risk of developing other life-threatening heart conditions, infections, vision loss, and cost of care, mental health support is important. As well as lifestyle changes specifically focused on stress management techniques.

9. Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a health complication for people who have sustained high blood glucose levels. Problems with blood sugar regulation cause an increase in cytokine production in the body and white blood cells. This triggers reactions in the immune system that create long-term inflammation.

Inflammation is not something you can always feel in terms of symptoms. However, chronic inflammation also damages cells and makes them more resistant to insulin (the body’s blood sugar regulation hormone). This, in turn, can increase blood sugars and make them more difficult to manage.

Chronic inflammation can also increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancers, and autoimmune disorders. Inflammation can also cause neuropathy and kidney problems, as proven by many diabetes research studies.

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10. Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Diabetes mellitus can cause hypertension or high blood pressure. Obesity can also contribute to increased inflammation and hypertension, particularly if individuals carry excessive weight around the abdominal area. Regular exercise can help improve problems with high blood pressure.

Hypertension can also amplify kidney function and place people with diabetes at risk of kidney failure or chronic kidney disease (CKD). Some patients may be required to have dialysis therapies if kidney performance is compromised by diabetes; however, all medications to treat diabetes do not harm healthy kidney functioning.

Another impact of diabetes on health is the disruption of hormonal balance. The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) plays an important role in blood pressure regulation. High blood glucose levels can disrupt the RAAS and can also contribute to hypertension.

Lastly, diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) can impact the autonomic nervous system and also increase hypertension. Patients with diabetes often have a higher resting blood pressure than individuals without the chronic disease.

11. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Some studies suggest that approximately 25% of people living with diabetes complications may develop restless leg syndrome. This is a condition where your legs may ache, itch, or feel uncomfortable, prompting you to move your legs.

Restless leg syndrome can be a genetically inherited problem, or it can be caused by low iron levels and other health issues. Many people suffer from sleep disorders as a result of RLS, but it may be treated with lifestyle changes, medications, stretching, exercise, and massage.

12. Sleep Disruption and Insomnia

People with diabetes may also have difficulty with disrupted sleep. In many cases, sleep problems occur because of random neuropathy pain. It can strike any time of day, and some people experience stabbing pain and tingling in feet, toes, hands, and arms, which can wake them up.

Frequent urination is another cause of sleep problems for people living with diabetes. It can wake you up throughout the night with an urgent need to visit the bathroom. Low blood sugar overnight is another common cause of sleep problems for patients with diabetes.

While patients can struggle with insulin resistance and high blood sugar, low blood sugar is a big problem, too. Hypoglycemia can cause sweating, confusion, headaches, and lightheadedness. Low blood sugar at night is also called ‘twilight syndrome’ and can be helped by eating a high-protein snack before bed.

can medical marijuana help with type 2 diabetes

Is Diabetes a Qualifying Health Condition for Medical Cannabis?

Diabetes is not a qualifying health condition that can make you eligible for medical marijuana. However, many of the symptoms and health problems associated with diabetes may qualify you for a medical card.

Most states include neuropathy pain as a qualifying health condition, regardless of the diagnosis. If you are a patient who suffers chronic nerve pain, you may be certified by a physician for doctor-supervised medical cannabis.

Can Medical Marijuana Treat Diabetes?

Medical cannabis is not a cure for any health condition; however, it can be effective when added to a treatment plan to help patients manage symptoms. Marijuana use can help patients with chronic pain, and certain strains of cannabis (with high ratios of cannabidiol or CBD) may offer anti-inflammatory properties that could help lower blood pressure.

Doctor-supervised marijuana use may help patients relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. There are many intake routes to try, from smoking cannabis to tinctures (sublingual uptake), capsules, and edibles. Chronic cannabis smoking, however, may cause an increased risk of heart disease and inflammation. Ask your doctor for the best route or intake method to help you manage diabetes symptoms.

Many clinical studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) can help patients living with diabetes. High-quality CBD supplements taken daily may help individuals in a variety of ways. First, CBD can be an effective aid for coping with stress and anxiety.

Some people who regularly use cannabidiol share that it can help with pain because cannabidiol has been clinically proven to reduce inflammation. That means it may help you relieve neuropathic pain. Since CBD is not psychoactive (no impairment), it is always good for daytime use.

Make DocMJ Your Cannabis Healthcare Provider

With our compassionate approach to providing patient care, DocMJ is recognized for having the best marijuana doctors in Florida. We are more than cannabis healthcare providers; we are a supportive community dedicated to helping patients reach their wellness goals.

Schedule an appointment today, or contact us to learn more about getting your Florida medical card.

 

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