If the link is proved, it could lead to the development of treatments based on the active ingredient of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), without its intoxicating effects.
Researchers have found that regular users of the drug had lower levels of the hormone insulin after fasting – a signal that they are protected against diabetes. They also had reduced insulin resistance. Cannabis is widely smoked in the United States with over 17 million current users of whom more than four million smoke it on a daily basis. In the UK latest figures show 2.3 million people used cannabis in the last year, but the numbers have declined in the last decade.
Two US states have recently legalised its recreational use and 19 others have legalised it for medical purposes by patients with one of several conditions including multiple sclerosis and cancer. THC has already been approved to treat the side effects of chemotherapy, nausea in cancer patients, anorexia associated with AIDS and other conditions.
The study involved almost 5,000 patients who answered a questionnaire about their drug use and were part of the National Health and Nutrition Survey between 2005 and 2010. The results showed almost 2,000 had used cannabis at some point in their lives and more than one in 10 (579) were current users. Only those who had used cannabis within the past month showed evidence of protection against diabetes, suggesting that the effects wear off in time. Current users of the drug had 16 per cent lower fasting insulin than those who had never used the drug.
Murray Mittleman, of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, and lead author of the study published in The American Journal of Medicine, said previous studies had shown lower rates of obesity and diabetes in marijuana users.
Two previous surveys had also shown that although cannabis users consume more calories they have a lower body mass index. The mechanisms underlying this paradox are unknown, the authors say. Joseph Alpert, professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, and editor in chief of the journal, said: “These are remarkable observations that are supported by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions.
“We desperately need a great deal more basic and clinical research into the short and long term effects of marijuana in a variety of clinical settings such as cancer diabetes and frailty of the elderly.”
Almost one in 20 adults in the UK has diabetes, of which 2.6 million are diagnosed and 500,000 are undiagnosed. Rates are rising in this country and around the world, driven by Western lifestyles, and the number of cases is expected to exceed 4 million in the UK by 2025. The illness increases the risk of heart failure, kidney failure, and death – and is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK.
By Jeremy Laurance
According to the most recent statistics, about one-third of the entire U.S. population, or more than 100 million Americans, suffers from either diabetes or pre-diabetes, a blood sugar condition that can eventually lead to more serious health conditions and even death. And based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projections, this number is expected to double by 2050 if trends continue at current rates. But you and your family do not have to fall victim to this sweeping diabetes epidemic — here are some tips on how to alter your diet and lifestyle to avoid developing diabetes and potentially succumbing to premature death:
1) Eat more foods rich in quercetin. A member of the flavonoid family of antioxidants, quercetin has been shown to help lower blood glucose levels and improve plasma insulin levels, two factors commonly associated with diabetes (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19496084). Quercetin also helps neutralize damaging free radicals and inhibit inflammation, not to mention lower blood pressure in people with inflammation (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/quercetin-000322.htm).
Foods that are high in quercetin include apples, citrus fruits, onions, parsley, sage, green tea, and red wine. Olive oil, grapes, dark cherries, and dark berries are also rick in quercetin and other flavonoids, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). And if dietary sources are not enough, quercetin is also available in supplement form, including in the Rejuvenate! Plus green superfood formula available at the NaturalNews store (http://store.naturalnews.com/Rejuvenate-Plus-500-g_p_95.html).
2) A teaspoon of cinnamon a day to keep the diabetes away. Cinnamon contains powerful blood sugar-stabilizing compounds that not only increase glucose metabolism by a significant amount, but also mimic the activity of insulin inside the body. Supplementing with cinnamon can also help slow the speed at which food empties from your stomach, inhibiting the blood sugar rush that often comes following a meal high in refined sugar and simple carbohydrates (http://www.huffingtonpost.com).
Most of the cinnamon you will find on grocery store shelves today comes from the “cassia” family of cinnamon, which is not necessarily the most medicinal variety. So-called “true” cinnamon, which is generally not as flavorful or as easy to find as cassia cinnamon, comes from the “Ceylon” family, and has a much lower ratio of coumarin, a blood-thinning compound, as well as higher overall nutrient content. However, all major varieties of cinnamon possess demonstrable diabetes-fighting properties (http://www.naturalnews.com/035642_cinnamon_blood_sugar_regulating.html).
3) Eat more broccoli, cruciferous vegetables. Rich in a cancer-fighting compound known as sulforaphane, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are an important part of an anti-diabetes diet because they protect blood vessels against cellular damage. Vitamin C, chromium, fiber, beta-carotene, and many other nutrients found in broccoli help protect against free radical damage, high blood sugar, and high levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, all of which are linked to diabetes (http://www.nhs.uk/news/2008/08August/Pages/Broccolianddiabetes.aspx).
4) Exercise more, and cut out the junk food. This one might be a little more obvious, but simply engaging in physical activity regularly can have a huge impact on whether or not your body succumbs to a diabetic condition. Since obesity and poor physical health are major factors in diabetes, it only makes sense that exercising and eating right are important components for staying fit and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. It is best to start with shorter, higher-intensity workouts to get your metabolism going and lower insulin and leptin resistance, and gradually add in appropriate cardiovascular workouts.
As far as diet is concerned, it is best to avoid wheat and gluten-containing foods as these have been shown to interfere with glucose metabolism. Foods that contain ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), enriched flour, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, preservatives, food colorings, and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) should also be avoided if you are serious about preventing diabetes. Stick with whole, organic foods; limit consumption of grains, including whole grains; and consume healthy fats, including saturated fats from unrefined coconut oil and grass-fed butter and pastured meat for optimal health (http://www.charlespoliquin.com).
5) Make sure you are getting plenty of magnesium and probiotics. More than 75 percent of the American population is said to be deficient in magnesium, a mineral your body needs to activate more than 300 unique and necessary biochemical reactions. Your bones, cells, organs, and tissues all rely on magnesium to function properly. Without enough magnesium, your immunity, skeletal system, heart, and circulatory system are all at serious risk. Making sure you intake high amounts of magnesium is crucial for protecting against hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/).
Similarly, probiotic bacteria, which populate the gut and regulate the immune system, are essential for thwarting the onset of diabetes. A study published earlier this year found that altering the microbiota balance of obese patients at high risk of diabetes can help reverse the metabolic effects linked to diabetes (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22798958).
To learn more about preventing and curing diabetes, visit:
Also, check out the book How to Halt Diabetes in 25 Days:
Diabetes services are in crisis, with complications, such as amputations, at a record high, Diabetes Action has claimed.
New figures from the HSE show that in 2010 and 2011, there were 781 diabetes-related lower limb amputations, a 20% increase on the previous two-year period.
Some 190,000 people in Ireland have diabetes and according to the advocacy group, the condition is now the single biggest cause of amputation, blindness, kidney failure and stroke. Yet the HSE is ‘amplifying this public health disaster’ by failing to fill essential posts and make retinal screening available, despite the fact that funding has been available for this since 2010.
Commenting on the figures, consultant endocrinologist, Dr Kevin Moore, described leg amputation as the ‘greatest measure of failure in the treatment of diabetes’. However, he noted that this ‘occurs daily in our hospitals‘.
Furthermore, every week in Ireland, someone with diabetes goes blind as a result of related eye disease, diabetic retinopathy. And ‘promised advances’ in paediatric services to increase the availability of insulin pumps to young children ‘haven’t materialised’.
Dr Moore insisted that the HSE is failing people with diabetes ‘on every front’ and despite some work being done in this area, there has been ‘no impact on health outcomes’.
“Footcare, eyecare and paediatric services have all been funded in successive HSE Service Plans since 2010, however, of 16 footcare posts, nine remain unfilled, the promised retinopathy screening programme has stalled and paediatric nursing and dietetic posts in Cork, Limerick and Galway have not even been advertised,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking about plans to move some diabetes care from hospitals into GP surgeries, Dr Moore insisted that this would ‘not be safe or acceptable until essential services, such as retinanl screening, are in place’.
“Most GPs are not trained in managing these complex aspects of diabetes care,” he said.
Also commenting on this issue, Dr Anna Clarke of Diabetes Ireland, said that while the government’s policy on chronic illnesses is based on integrated services, none of the elements required for this in the area of diabetes have been delivered.
“Most nurses applying for these posts will come from the hospital system and because of recruitment embargos they won’t be replaced when they leave. The posts may strengthen certain pilot primary care initiatives, but they will ultimately weaken already deficient services in hospitals where nursing posts will vanish,” Dr Clarke insisted.
Diabetes Action is calling on the Minister for Health to ‘show leadership and insist that the HSE deliver on its commitments’.