Diabetes is quickly becoming the most expensive disease in the United States, costing upwards of $100 billion yearly for diagnosis and treatment. With an estimated 285 million diabetics worldwide (and a projected 438 million by 2030), one in seven adults in the U.S. are currently diagnosed with the disease, making diabetes one of the largest growing health threats to the American public. Is there a potential cure on the horizon?
A collaboration between American and Chinese universities published in the American Journal of Biomedical Sciences revealed a potential hidden link between cannabis and diabetes. The study found that cannabis smokers, on average, have lower levels of glucose in their bodies than non-smokers. This means, of course, that smokers also produce insulin more efficiently than their non-smoking counterparts. High levels of blood sugar inhibit, and eventually kill, the insulin-producing functions of the pancreas.
The American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) suggests that through its activation of the CB2 receptors, cannabis can suppress arterial inflammation and prevent the development of cardiovascular disease in the diabetic. Cannabinoids like THC help blood vessels stay dilated, as well as relieve symptoms like cramps, restless leg syndrome and ankle swelling common to individuals affected by diabetes.
A 2013 study, published in The American Journal of Medicine, reported that when compared to their non-smoking counterparts, subjects who had smoked in the past month displayed the following:
- Sixteen-percent lower fasting insulin levels
- Seventeen-percent lower levels of insulin resistance
- Higher levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C)
- A smaller waist circumference
Considering all the stereotypes about cannabis giving people the munchies, the most ironic finding is that cannabis users had smaller waists on average than their non-smoking counterparts. It’s a fact I’m thoroughly compensating for with my weekly visits to Guerrilla Tacos.
Michael Peña is a Los Angeles-based writer, musician and Kanye West enthusiast. He can be found on Instagram @ilooklikestevezahn. Photo credit: Rafael Cerqueira.