Cannabinoids Appear To Reduce Diabetes Risk, Help Those With Diabetes

Eating healthy natural foods, avoiding refined carbohydrates and refined sugars, maintaining a healthy weight and living an active lifestyle are crucial to avoiding type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes (type 1 or 2) these healthy lifestyle cornerstones can help you to gain better...

Eating healthy natural foods, avoiding refined carbohydrates and refined sugars, maintaining a healthy weight and living an active lifestyle are crucial to avoiding type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes (type 1 or 2) these healthy lifestyle cornerstones can help you to gain better control over your blood glucose levels.

Without proper control of blood sugars on a long-term basis, diabetes can easily lead to blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, hardening of the arteries and it is the third leading cause of premature death in North America after heart disease and cancer.

No matter how diligent anyone is, diabetes makes it difficult to properly control your blood sugar levels. I personally witnessed just how difficult it can be as one of my family members struggled for 15 years to manage her blood sugars. Unfortunately, her poor eating habits for many years resulted in her getting heart disease at the age of 47.

Obviously, we want to avoid these kinds of medical complications and medical marijuana can be valuable to diabetics as one more safe tool they can use to help control their blood sugars better.

Preclinical studies indicate that cannabinoids in cannabis may slow down the progression of diabetes as well as helping to relieve some of the symptoms diabetics often suffer with.[1-2]

A 2006 study published in the journal Autoimmunity reported that injections of just 5 mg per day of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD significantly reduced the incidence of diabetes in mice. Scientists reported that 86% of untreated control mice in the study developed diabetes. By contrast, only 30% of CBD-treated mice developed the disease.[3] In a separate experiment, investigators reported that control mice all developed diabetes (after about four months) while a majority (60 percent) of CBD-treated mice remained diabetes-free (at six and a half months).[4]

A 2013 study evaluated the effect of THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) in genetically modified obese mice. In this study the cannabinoid given to the mice produced some key beneficial effects related to diabetes, such as reduced glucose intolerance, improved glucose tolerance, improved liver triglyceride levels, and most importantly increased insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity is one of the most important factors for human diabetics to better manage their diabetes.

Based on this study’s results, the scientists suggested that THCV may be useful for the treatment of metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes condition) and/or type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes), either alone or in combination with existing treatments."[5]

Other preclinical trial studies have also reported that cannabinoids may help reduce a variety of diabetes related symptoms. For example, in the March 2006 issue of the American Journal of Pathology, researchers at the Medical College of Virginia reported that rats treated with CBD for periods of one to four weeks experienced significant protection from diabetic retinopathy[6]– which is the number one cause of blindness in people under the age of 65.

Cannabinoids have also been shown to reduce nerve pain associated with diabetes in animal models.[7-8] These research results suggest that "cannabinoids have a potential beneficial effect on diabetic neuropathic (nerve related) pain."

Researchers from the US, Switzerland and Israel reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that the administration of CBD reduces various symptoms of diabetic cardiomyopathy (weakening of the heart muscle) in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. The authors of this study concluded, "These results, coupled with the excellent safety and tolerability profile of CBD in humans, strongly suggest that it may have great therapeutic potential in the treatment of diabetic complications."[9]

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles examined a nationally representative sample of the US population of 10,896 adults between the ages of 20-59. The scientists concluded, "Our analysis showed that participants who used marijuana had a lower prevalence of diabetes and lower odds of getting diabetes compared with non-marijuana users."[10]

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston assessed the relationship between marijuana use and fasting insulin, glucose, and insulin resistance in a sample of 4,657 male subjects. They concluded, "Men who reported using marijuana in the past month had lower levels of fasting insulin and HOMA-IR [insulin resistance], as well as smaller waist circumference and higher levels of HDL-C ['good' cholesterol]. Further examination suggested that the positive impact of marijuana use on insulin and insulin resistance exists only during periods of recent marijuana use."[11-12]

If you have used specific strains of medical marijuana, extracts, or synthetic versions of marijuana/cannabis components to help control your diabetes, please contact us with details about your experiences so that we share this information with others to help them too. Thank you!


[1] Croxford and Yamamura. 2005. Cannabinoids and the immune system: Potential for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Journal of Neuroimmunology 166: 3-18.
[2] Lu et al. 2006. The cannabinergic system as a target for anti-inflammatory therapies. Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry 13: 1401-1426.
[3] Weiss et al. 2006. Cannabidiol lowers incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Autoimmunity 39: 143-151.
[4] Ibid
[5] Wargent et al. 2013. The cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) ameliorates insulin sensitivity in two mouse models of obesity. Nutrition & Diabetes 3 [online ahead of print]
[6] El-Remessy et al. 2006. Neuroprotective and blood-retinal barrier preserving effects of cannabidiol in experimental diabetes. American Journal of Pathology 168: 235-244.
[7] Dogrul et al. 2004. Cannabinoids block tactile allodynia in diabetic mice without attenuation of its antinociceptive effect. Neuroscience Letters 368: 82-86.
[8] Ulugol et al. 2004. The effect of WIN 55,212-2, a cannabinoid agonist, on tactile allodynia in diabetic rats.Neuroscience Letters 71: 167-170.
[9] Rajesh et al. 2010. Cannabidiol attenuates cardiac dysfunction, oxidative stress, fibrosis, and inflammatory and cell death signaling pathways in diabetic cardiomyopathy. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 56: 2115-2125.
[10] Rajavashisth et al. 2012. Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users. BMJ Open 2
[11] Penner et al. 2013. Marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance among US adults. American Journal of Medicine 126: 583-589. Previous observational data has similarly reported that the prevalence of obesity in the general population is sharply lower among marijuana consumers than it is among nonusers.
[12] Strat and Foll. 2011. American J
ournal of Epidemiology
 174: 929-933.

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  1. Tom Reply

    I have been a regular user for fourteen years now and a diabetic for roughly the same. I notice that whenever I stop smoking for even as little as a week, my vision gets blurry where it otherwise would be fine. Then when the regular use starts up again, my vision goes back to the way it's been. I also notice that my body seems to use the injected insulin quicker and it's seemingly more efficient. I know to take lesser amounts during times of use.

  2. Jennifer Lavender Reply

    I've found that I lost 60lbs using the cannabinoid thcv. Unfortunately the strains that worked best....sorry don't remember. But it works. My blood sugars also went from diabetic to non-diabetic. With sugar @ 4. 2nd.