Can Medical Marijuana Prevent Type 2 Diabetes?

By Hilda Scott , May 15, 2013 10:19 PM EDT

Medical marijuana is used to treat many conditions including chronic pain, muscle spasm, cancer and anxiety and depression. Marijuana also helps to manage and control blood glucose levels and can be used to treat patients who have diabetes.

Although marijuana use leads to the intake of additional calories per day, studies have shown that obesity rates are lower among cannabis smokers. A recent study was conducted to research the effects of marijuana and the metabolism. The study comes from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Data was analyzed from a national survey of 4,657 adult men and women between 2005 through 2010.  From the participants, 12 percent of the group reported being current marijuana users and 42 percent of them said that they used marijuana sometime in the past.

 "Fasting insulin and glucose were measured via blood samples after a 9-hour fast, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) was calculated to evaluate insulin resistance," wrote the authors in the study.

Researchers tested the participants for blood sugar control, insulin and glucose levels, insulin resistance and cholesterol levels. The results from the various tests showed that marijuana users showed higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is considered the "good" cholesterol. High levels of HDL can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Marijuana smokers also showed a reduction in insulin levels by 16 percent. Their insulin resistance, which is when the body is unable to absorb glucose or sugar from the blood stream, was also reduced by 17 percent. In comparison, the people who reported to have used marijuana in the past, showed similar results but not significant. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body can produce insulin but is unable to use the insulin to properly metabolize and manage blood sugar levels. The results from the study suggest that marijuana may be used as treatment for those who suffer from diabetes as a way to manage and maintain their blood sugar levels. For those who don't have diabetes, marijuana medical marijuana may be used to prevent the onset of diabetes. Results of the study were publised in the American Journal of Medicine on May 15. 

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