Diabetes is often called a silent disease. If you have Type II diabetes, you may not feel any different. Many Americans remain undiagnosed for several years, in some cases, decades. And when diabetes is not managed with diet and medications, it can become a life-threatening circumstance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that roughly 79,000 Americans die every year from diabetes. Or complications caused by the chronic disease. But because diabetes can impact every aspect of health, the actual number of related deaths per year may not be accurate. Heart attacks, strokes, and serious infections like sepsis can occur.
Human trials relating to diabetes and cannabinoid therapies are increasing in number. Global studies like this one from Sweden suggest that cannabis and CBD are safe for diabetes people. Cannabinoids do not conflict with most prescription medications. And people who smoke weed do not generally report unpleasant side-effects. On the contrary, they usually report benefits.
One of the biggest concerns and fears that people with diabetes face is the threat of infection. The area of the body most prone to getting an infection is the feet. And so, special daily care is required. There is no shortage of creams, ointments, and topicals available for diabetic foot care.
Increasingly, patients are turning to hemp and THC infused products. And the potential wellness benefits of cannabinoids to help manage symptoms of diabetes.
Why People with Diabetes Experience More Infections
The immune system is known as the body’s natural defense. Whenever there is a virus or bacteria that gets a little out of control, the white blood cells travel to the area to address the problem. The cells attach to the threat and then help the body get rid of it.
For the immune system to function at top performance, it relies on circulation. Blood flow that allows the white blood cells to travel to points of infection or disease. Did you know that blood that has higher-than-average glucose (sugar) content moves more slowly?
You see, normal high-octane non-diabetic blood moves quickly through veins and arteries. And that is a good thing. It helps reduce the amount of plaque that is deposited. Just like the stuff on your teeth, plaque can build up in veins and arteries. And that narrows those vital passageways making it harder to get blood through to different areas of the body.
When infection or virus happens, depending on the location, the body may not deploy the defense mechanisms. The extremities (hands, fingers, feet, and toes) are most prone to being fed less oxygenated blood. That impairs healing and can lead to life-threatening infections.
But the heart doesn’t accept ‘no’ for an answer. It has to work harder to distribute oxygenated blood. That extra pressure also contributes to the thickening of veins and arterial walls, making it even more narrow. Heart attack and stroke risks are higher for people with diabetes.
What Causes Numbness in Hands and Feet for Patients With Diabetes?
Every cell in your body, tissue, and muscle is fed by blood cells. Molecules of oxygen are attached to the cells. As they travel through your body, that oxygen is provided to other cells. Without oxygen, cells die. And after cells have died, they can mutate into a free radical. Free radicals increase inflammation, and chronic inflammation further impairs the immune system. It is a vicious cycle.
Nerve receptors are also located throughout your body. And they are composed of cells that record sensations like pressure, pain, and temperature and report that information to the brain. When healthy circulation is impaired, the nerve endings can become damaged. Unfortunately, there is no way to revitalize them after they have been damaged.
The nerve sensors in areas like the feet, legs, and hands can no longer report all their sensations. This is why people who have diabetes can develop numbness in the toes and other extremities. And one of the significant hazards is losing the ability to ‘feel’ an infection. If you had a cut that was becoming infected on your foot, you might not know it. That is another reason why people with diabetes have to be cautious about foot care. One small infection left unchecked could result in an amputation. And in extreme cases, necrosis and systemic infection.
Diabetic Compression Therapy and Foot Care
You’ve probably passed them in at your local Walgreens or CVS. Diabetic socks. They don’t look like anything extraordinary, do they? Just plain white or black stockings that are slightly a little bit longer than normal. But for someone with diabetes who experiences edema, or neuropathy, compression socks help a lot. They reduce inflammation, swelling, and the painful ‘pins and needles’ sensation caused by nerve damage.
Compression socks are tight, and they squish the calf and ankle areas. Compression helps quickly to reduce swelling. And that also helps to reduce pain. However, not many people know that regular use of compression socks can actually change the way foot and leg blood vessels behave. The pressure helps improve blood flow.
Socks are not the only way that people with diabetes can do compression therapy. The latest rage is compression boots. They look like 1980s style space boots filled with air from a small hand-controlled air compressor. As the boots constrict around the legs and feet, it trains blood vessels to be more insulin sensitive.
People who have diabetes that work in sedentary jobs should be using compression therapy to improve blood circulation. In some professions where someone must be sedentary, compression stockings or boots can help improve circulation.
Diabetic foot care includes keeping skin moisturized and healthy. Cracked heels could cause a foot infection. People with diabetes should also make sure that they are protecting their feet. That usually means upgrading from flip-flops.
Cannabinoids and Type 2 Diabetes: Can THC and CBD Help?
Some people have a medical card and use cannabis to relieve some of the symptoms of diabetes. Others prefer to use high-quality CBD oils, edibles, or supplements instead. Whichever method you use to consume cannabinoids, if you have diabetes, it may help.
In an article by Kate Ruder on Everyday Health, many clinical studies discuss the benefits of cannabinoids for people with diabetes. According to one study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 340% more people with diabetes are therapeutically using cannabis. For preventative therapies (to help reduce nerve damage) and for relief of inflammation and pain.
Strains of cannabis that are high in CBD but low in THC can be a good approach. While CBD can provide anxiety relief and help with inflammation, THC can provide pain relief. And while researchers don’t completely understand it, CBD and THC combination seems to work best. For symptom relief, reduced inflammation, improved mood, and sleep.
There are many different types of hemp-derived CBD products and strains to choose from. For example, hemp pre-rolls may be a choice if you like smoking your CBD. Tinctures are a liquid form of CBD or a hybrid THC + CBD product. Vape cartridges are also popular.
What is inhaled into the lungs is also rapidly absorbed, but vaporizing may not be a good choice for respiratory disorders. Discuss your best CBD intake method with your primary care provider (PCP).
Meet the Author: Lori Reese is from Toronto, Canada, and a passionate advocate for patients with rare and chronic diseases, and access to alternative medicine. She has a background in pharmaceutical and health regulation in Canada and the United States. Lori is the Content Marketing Manager for MarijuanaDoctors.com, America’s leading medical cannabis online resource since 2010.