A preprint published in Cannabis Cannabinoid Research examined the association between cannabis use and diabetes to determine differences in men and women’s metabolic health. The researchers found that female heavy cannabis users (daily or frequent use) were less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, but there was no significant association for women who engaged in occasional cannabis consumption and or men who regularly consumed cannabis.
Research attention to cannabis treatments for diabetes symptom management is increasing, and some believe that a specific cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THCV) may be especially effective in managing symptoms. THCV is a non-psychoactive compound that is the precursor to THC. Dr. Michael Moskowitz, President of the Bay Area Pain Medical Associates, has been documenting patients’ anecdotal accounts of cannabis use. One patient with diabetes struggled with blood sugar levels that varied between 50-1,000 in a single day. Within the first month of cannabis use, the patient experienced less fluctuation in blood sugar level. Dr. Moskowitz attributed this stability to THCV which is found in higher amounts in certain strains such as Black Beauty. Dr. Moskowitz predicts there is great potential for cannabinoid treatment to manage diabetes. According to Moskowitz, “the opportunity to work with something that clearly has therapeutic value but figuring out how to optimize that and make that work the best for the most amount of people. That is very exciting.” THCV effectively supports appetite management and weight loss, so specific THVC-rich strains may be a potentially powerful treatment for many diabetes patients.
A study published in Diabetes Care found that THCV significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose and improved pancreatic function. THCV was also well tolerated by patients, so it has a favorable safety profile. Changes in glycemic control, lipid profile, insulin sensitivity, body weight, liver triglyceride content, adipose tissue distribution, appetite, markers of inflammation, markers of vascular function, gut hormones, circulating endocannabinoids, and adipokine concentrations were monitored to assess THCV’s effectiveness and safety profile. The study suggested that THCV could effectively be used as a therapeutic agent in glycemic control in subjects with type-2 diabetes.
Further research is needed to explore the roles individual and contextual factors play in the association between cannabis use and diabetes mellitus.