Diabetes patients are starting to look into cannabis treatment due to promising research findings which say that active compounds from cannabis have potential in lowering blood sugar levels and inflammatory markers.
According to the World Health Organization, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has quadrupled in the last 30 years. Each of them falls into one of two categories of diabetes— Type 1 or Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, which is a hormone in charge of regulating blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes is when the body makes enough insulin, but is unable to use it effectively.
Depending on the type, different factors can cause diabetes: genetics play a major role, but obesity, infections and a bad diet can all lead to developing the condition.
With the right therapy and regular medical checks, diabetes can be kept under control.
But why is an increasing number of diabetes patients flocking over to medical cannabis, in search for effective alternative treatment?
To find out, I decided to look into the available body of scientific and anecdotal evidence.
Cannabis and diabetes
This may sound contradictory, but cannabis is closely linked to lower body mass index, good cholesterol and a smaller waistline.
And as I mentioned above, obesity is a major precursor to diabetes. This seems paradoxical because cannabis consumers are known to consume a few extra calories per day.
But, a few studies claim otherwise.
Researchers from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey surveyed people who used cannabis in the month leading up to the questionnaire. (1) They found that cannabis is associated with blood sugar control in several ways:
- Diabetes patients who use cannabis have 16% lower fasting insulin levels and 17% lower insulin resistance levels, as well as higher levels of good cholesterol.
- Regular cannabis consumers, and by that I mean those who use marijuana at least three times a week, are 30% less likely to become overweight. In fact, the obesity rate among marijuana users is around 16%, while for non-users the rate is between 22% and 25%. (2)
- Cannabis consumers also tend to have better carbohydrate metabolism than non-users.
- Cannabis helps speed up biochemical processes responsible for the formation and breakdown of carbohydrates (including sugar) and scientists assume that this has something to do with the way cannabinoids interact with insulin. It has been observed that cannabis consumers tend to be less insulin-resistant – insulin resistance is a significant factor in obesity.
In another corner of the world, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem led by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam (the man who discovered CBD), found that the well known anti-inflammatory properties of CBD could play an important role in treating type 2 diabetes.
It has already been known for quite some time that chronic inflammation is a major player in developing insulin resistance.
Since CBD is very effective in treating inflammation, it can help maintain a normal immune system, sugar metabolism, cell growth and heart function.
However, it’s not all about CBD and THC.
There are more than 80 other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, each with its own therapeutic values.
One specific cannabinoid, called THCV, is proven to lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes. (3)
Cannabis has also shown great promise for treating other problems that come along with diabetes, such as anxiety, depression, eye conditions, pain, sleeping problems.
With increasing evidence that marijuana could be an important tool for maintaining normal insulin levels, let’s round up the best strains for treating diabetes and see where to get started.
10 best cannabis strains for diabetes
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When it comes to choosing the best cannabis strain for diabetes, you should stick to high CBD and THCV strains.
However, there are also some strains with higher THC levels that can help you manage your insulin levels.
Also, keep in mind that smoking weed is not the only way to get those substances into your system.
In fact, smoking (cigarettes as well as weed) can be very dangerous if you have diabetes.
Here is a Reddit thread I found that really startled me.
In this case, edibles are always a good choice, as they are a much healthier way to get the best from cannabis as there’s no smoke or carbon dioxide. For example, you could put decarbed weed and put it in cannabis butter.
Just be careful when it comes to dosing. At first, it may seem it’s not working, but because of the digestion process which takes a while, you’ll feel the effects after about an hour.
Vaping is another healthier way to use weed. Vape can be a bit expensive but think of it as an investment. There is no smoke with vaping, you inhale vapor and that’s it.
CBD oils are always a safe choice as well. Oils became very popular recently since they are legal and made from industrial hemp. You can buy CBD oil (online or at your local dispensary) or you can easily make your own if you’re a DIY person.
Exclusive bonus: Download a free dosage guide that will show you the exact step-by-step process Dr. Dustin Sulak used to successfully treat more than 18,000 patients with cannabis.
Whatever your preferred method of consumption is, you still need to start with flowers. Use these 10 strains to get a head start.
Doug’s Varin should be your first choice when choosing a strain for diabetes.
The reason being is that this strain is known for its high levels of THCV, which is supposedly very effective in lowering blood sugar levels and improving fasting insulin levels.
This compound is psychoactive (but not as much as THC) so be careful when consuming it. The high feels more like a short-term clear-headed burst. It will make you talkative and energized while taking away stress and depression.
One of the favorite strains among diabetes patients, because of its higher CBD levels. In general, low THC strains like Harlequin are always good for daytime use since they don’t make you high, but rather keep you clear headed.
And as I mentioned earlier, the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD are very strong, which is crucial for diabetes type 2.
This is a strain with high CBD content, but still with up to 7% THC.
Cannatonic will not make you super high since CBD diminishes the psychoactive effects of THC. The cerebral effect of this strain is rather described as sharp than high.
Besides inflammation, it’s great for treating pain, stress, and depression.
New users should be very careful with this strain since it contains high levels of both THC and THCV, making it very psychoactive and potent.
However, it’s also hard to find and is very promising for diabetes patients. Pineapple Purps keeps the inflammation down and will help you feel relaxed at the same time.
Pennywise is a popular medical strain, with 1:1 THC to CBD ratio, which has been proven as the most therapeutically effective.
It’s perfect for beginners since it’s mild and relaxing but do not be fooled by it — its’ very effective in reducing stress, pain, and inflammation. Also, Pennywise is a good remedy for sleepless nights.
Cannabis is packed full of beneficial compounds, one of which are terpenes, compounds that give cannabis its unique smell and taste.
Master Kush is high in a terpene called humulene, well known to suppress appetite, which is a plus for patients with diabetes.
Also, if you have trouble falling asleep, this could be the right strain for you.
Black Beauty is one of the strongest strains known, with a unique cannabinoid profile. It contains 2:1 THC to THCV ratio and provides clear-headed cerebral high and an uplifting boost of energy.
Since it contains THCV, it has great potential for treating diabetes.
Although it’s a high THC strain, it’s still a good choice for daytime medication since it brings forth to focus, energy and an uplifting head buzz.
Green Crack is also great for treating depression and relieving everyday stress, as well as pain related to inflammations.
With a balanced THC to CBD ratio, Zen has been known for its depression smashing properties.
Its CBD content is great for keeping the insulin levels down, but keep in mind that it can boost your appetite as well. When you consume it, be extra responsible and watch what you are eating.
One more strain that’s perfect for daytime use since it does not increase appetite but provides more than enough energy.
There is no sedative effect with Blue Diesel, which makes it a good choice for those who need to reduce insulin resistance.
Remember to avoid smoking and stick to edibles
As you can see, diabetics can benefit from cannabis on many levels.
The research and the experiences of many patients have both shown us just how much marijuana can help in maintaining normal insulin and blood sugar levels.
However, you should remember to avoid smoking and use high CBD and THCV strains in edible form.
- Penner EA, Buettner H, Mittleman MA; The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance Among Us Adults; the American Journal of Medicine; July 2013; 126(7):583-9
- Le Strat Y, Le Foll B; Obesity and Cannabis Use: Results From 2 Representative National Surveys; American Journal of Epidemiology; October 2011; 174(8):929-33
- Jadoon KA, Ratcliffe SH, Barrett DA, Thomas EL, Stott C, Bell JD, O’Sullivan SE, Tan GD; Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Glycemic and Lipid Parameters in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Pilot Study; October 2016; 39(10):1777-86
Grass Chief June 10, 2018 at 1:28 pm
A fabulous post which highlighted the positive sides of weed in the case of diabetes. Like the post very much. Really great writing.
SomewhereInMT July 1, 2018 at 4:22 am
Helena thanks for the excellent info re diabetes, esp. for listing the 10 strains. Will be looking for them next shopping opportunity.
DK July 23, 2018 at 2:20 pm
I was just diagnosed w diabetes. I already use MMJ for chronic pain & illness. I tend to favor high thc indicas. Now I’d like to add something w some cbd as well. What high thc and cbd strains are good for pain relief & diabetes?
Luka July 23, 2018 at 2:24 pm
Thank you for checking in DK! Have you tried using our tool for finding strains -- https://greencamp.com/strainblazer/? It may help you, depending on where you're from but it can at least give you some direction. :)
CDD October 8, 2018 at 1:44 am
My son, aged 43 has Type I diabetes since 6 years old. He is thin but strong. He has had DVT surgery and recently had blood sugar so low that he had a debilitating stroke and seizures. He is recovering very slowly. HE HAS BEEN A SMOKER most of his adult life. I would like some medical research articles specifically addressing marijuana's impact on Type I patients' glucose levels. Thank you for your help
Luka October 8, 2018 at 8:29 am
Thank you for your comment! We currently don't have such article, but we will put it in the pipeline as I think this is a really good topic to investigate. :)