Cannabidiol Help Treats Diabetes

Medical Marijuana and Diabetes

Dr. Gregory T. Carter, Clinical Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine says, “Marijuana is a complex substance containing over 60 different forms of cannabinoids, the active ingredients. Cannabinoids are now known to have the capacity for neuromodulation via direct, receptor-based mechanisms at numerous levels within the nervous system. These have therapeutic properties that may be applicable to the treatment of neurological disorders including anti-oxidative, neuroprotective, analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions, immunomodulation, modulation of glial cells and tumor growth regulation. Intracellular changes and altered signaling of the neurons seems to be the principle effects of the cannabinoids in marijuana.

Marijuana has strong anti-inflammatory effects. “This is why I believe that people who used marijuana a few decades ago are much less likely to develop any disease, such as Alzheimer’s, that relies upon the slow development of brain inflammation,” said Dr. Gary Wenk. The recent discovery of an endogenous cannabinoid system with specific receptors and ligands (compounds that activate receptors and trigger their characteristic responses) has increased our understanding of the actions of marijuana. Excessive inflammatory responses can emerge as a potential danger for organisms’ health. Physiological balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory processes constitutes an important feature of responses against harmful events.

There is mounting evidence pointing to dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system having an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Insulin-induced glucose uptake increases with increasing THC concentration.

Professor Mike Cawthorne and the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline believe that plant-based medicines might be the way to approach the treatment of diabetes. The particular plant they are studying is marijuana. Cannabis is an excellent anti-inflammatory that lacks the side effects of steroids, the NSAIDS, and the COX-2 inhibitors like Vioxx. This anti-inflammatory action may help quell the arterial inflammation common in diabetes.

Cannabidiol (CBD) arrested the onset of autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice in a 2007 study. Researchers at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem  in 2006 reported that injections of 5 mg per day of CBD (10-20 injections) significantly reduced the prevalence of diabetes in mice from an incidence of 86 percent in non-treated controls to an incidence of only 30 percent. In a separate experiment, investigators reported that control mice all developed diabetes at a median of 17 weeks (range 15-20 weeks) while a majority (60 percent) of CBD-treated mice remained diabetes-free at 26 weeks. Investigators also reported that CBD significantly lowered plasma levels of the pro-inflammatory cykotines (proteins), INF-gamma and TNF-alpha, and significantly reduced the severity of insulitis compared to non-treated controls.

Cannabidiol – CBD – CBD also occurs in almost all strains and is the second most interesting cannabinoid in regards to medical cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD lacks noticeable psychoactive effects. Nevertheless, CBD has valuable medical properties. CBD appears to work synergistically with THC, bolstering its medical effects while moderating its psycho-activity. It is also thought to improve wakefulness and to enhance THC’s activity against pain. Taken by itself CBD has anti-inflammatory, antianxiety, anti-epileptic, sedative and neuro-protective actions. It is also a potent anti-oxidant, protecting against chemical damage due to oxidation. Studies have suggested that CBD could protect against the development of diabetes, certain kinds of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, brain and nerve damage due to stroke, alcoholism, nausea, inflammatory bowel disease and Huntington’s disease.

Researchers concluded that confirmation of the observed immunomodulatory effects of CBD “may lead to the clinical application of this agent in the prevention of type-1 diabetes” and possibly other autoimmune diseases. They note that many patients diagnosed with type-1 diabetes have sufficient residual cells that produce insulin at the time of diagnosis, and may be candidates for immunomodulation therapy.

Bioactive cannabinoids have an anti-inflammatory effect. Marijuana can also be used to make topical creams to relieve neuropathic pain and tingling in hands and feet. Cannabis helps still diabetic “restless leg syndrome” (RLS), so the patient can sleep better: “It is recommended that patients use a vaporizer or smoke cannabis to aid in falling asleep.”

In studies THC essentially countered the effects of insulin resistance. These results support previous findings that smoking cannabis can reduce blood glucose in diabetics (Gallant, Odei-Addo, Frost, & Levendal, 2009).

Cannabidiol protects retinal neurons by preserving glutamine synthetase activity in diabetes. In current research on how to modulate cannabinoid receptors in the human body, Dr. Gregory I. Liou, a molecular biologist at the Medical College of Georgia, has found that cannabidiol (a cannabis compound) could prevent the overabundance of leaky eye blood vessels associated with diabetic retinopathy. As the leading cause of blindness in the United States, diabetic retinopathy is a major health concern for more than 16 million American adults.

Dr. Liou’s work, published in the January issue of the American Journal of Pathology indicates that cannabidiol can interrupt the destructive points of action in diabetic animals. “What we believe cannabidiol does is go in here as an antioxidant to neutralize the toxic superoxides. Number two, it inhibits the self-destructive system and allows the self-produced endogenous cannabinoids to stay there longer by inhibiting the enzyme that destroys them.” Dr. Liou believes that cannabinoids act as a type of negotiator, trying to keep peace, harmony and balance between a host of potentially volatile and dangerous factions of cells. “Cannabinoids are trying to ease the situation on both sides.”

Cannabis is neuroprotective. It is believed that much of neuropathy comes from the inflammation of nerves caused by glycoproteins in the blood that deposit in peripheral tissues and trigger an immune response. Cannabis helps protect the nerve covering (myelin sheath) from inflammatory attack. Cannabis also lessens the pain of neuropathy by activating receptors in the body and brain. Some components of cannabis (perhaps cannibidiol) act as anti-spasmodic agents similar to the far more toxic anti-convulsants like Neurontin. This action of cannabis helps relieve diabetic muscle cramps and GI upset.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology stated, “Collectively, our results strongly suggest that cannabidiol may have tremendous therapeutic potential in the treatment of diabetic cardiovascular and other complications.”

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