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Diabetes Complications, Diabetes Medication, Psychosocial

Medical Marijuana for Diabetes

Here is a copy of a letter — with the author’s name and other identifying information redacted out — about anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana might help some complications of diabetes.

The person who wrote me has a better memory than I do. I don’t remember corresponding with him before, but he remembers that when I used marijuana I was addicted to it. It got to where I had to be high all my waking hours. My correspondent is also quite correct in writing that I would not be a good candidate for medical marijuana, except as a last resort.

The jist of what he wrote follows:

Hi David,

l’ve read your diabetes writings off and on for probably 10 to 15 years. You do have a good solid set of useful information for people with diabetes — especially type 2’s like me. My background and work has been in the physical sciences, and I can appreciation your added scientific basis in your articles. Anyway, I emailed you a number of years ago, and I appreciate your replies.

I met someone who had type 2 diabetes here when I we were attending an informational meeting about my state’s new medical marijuana laws. I was opposed to using it, at least for recreational use, which can become psychologically addicting, as you know. But my wife suffers from ruptured discs that causes intense pain, and I was looking into it for her sake. Years ago each of us had used/abused marijuana before giving it up.

To get to the point — which is just a single data point but significant — the guy I met at the meeting was going into the latter stages of nephropathy. His creatinine level reached 6.3 when they did dialysis shunt surgery in preparation for him to begin regular dialysis. He had just begun to use medical marijuana.

His wife has multiple sclerosis. After much opposition to her using medical marijuana, he finally saw how it helped her, accepted it, and began using it himself.

It helped his existing nephropathy and the spasms he had because of his kidney problem. After his shunt surgery, he decided to increase his medical marijuana intake. His creatinine dropped to the 4’s and has stayed there ever since. He has not been having dialysis, as this happened after his shunt surgery.

He is currently the person in the state who has not required dialysis for the longest period after getting a shunt implanted. His nephrologists dismiss his claim that increasing his medical marijuana intake helped to lower his creatinine. But they were quite impressed because his labs had not been this good for more than three years prior to that. In fact, based on his creatinine level, he would not need a shunt now, which has stayed generally stable for several years. He has benefited greatly from medical marijuana.

I have to say that there is something quite significant to the improvement in his blood chemistry. And this is perhaps one of many other “quiet” people who might also add other data points to this knowledge — but who remain silent for legal or cultural reasons.

I do keep in touch with him. He is commonly on the local news when they cover medical marijuana meetings here, like city council and various state hearings. Looking back on his case, I suspect that medical marijuana might help lower his blood pressure, which would help improve conditions for his kidneys. It also does have some anti-inflammatory effects, which can also improve things for people with diabetes — though smoking medical marijuana is probably not the healthiest way to administer it.

My wife finds that medical marijuana to be the best treatment for her back pain. She also suffers from migraines, and again medical marijuana beats the prescription meds that she tried — and she’s gone through a gob of different ones. She just smokes one hit, does not seem stoned, and finds complete relief from her back and migraines.

But it would not be something good for someone who like you has discipline problems with abusing marijuana. It might be of use for others who don’t face such struggles. Just like we don’t prescribe narcotics to opiate addicts, potheads should probably not use medical marijuana, unless as a last resort to survive.

Anyway, I offer this diabetes-related bit of medical marijuana data for your consideration. While it may be potentially helpful for some, people who have addiction problems should avoid it. Myself, I had never liked being overly stoned, and lately not at all. But if I were facing dialysis, my attitude would change drastically.

Please don’t use our real names because the state’s medical marijuana laws are still a gray area. Until the FDA, the DEA, and the state get onto the same page, using medical marijuana can get people into trouble.

That’s the story from my correspondent. I know that you can get medical marijuana in several states now. Where I live, medical marijuana seems to be available for anyone who wants it. But because I am one of those sad cases who can’t handle it, I’m not tempted. Besides, I have been able to control my health with diet, weight loss, and exercise alone.

Of course, even if you are more disciplined than me and your diabetes is out of control, I am not recommending that you rush right out to your local medical marijuana dispensary or start growing weed in your back yard.

I am asking for your consideration and anonymous comments. Have any of you seen any improvement in your diabetes control by using pot?

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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  • Julie at

    Someone close to me smokes on a regular basis… He is a diabetic, but chooses to not go to the doctor in fear of facing he has diabetes… He has not taken care of this issue for a couple years now and thinks if he ignores it, it will disappear or it is not happening… Idk what to say other than I tell him randonly here and there, I worry about you, you should make that doctor appt Im here for you through it… He seems to feel sick at times, thirsty alot, and sleeps more than I see most people sleep… After he smokes pot he seems to be more relaxed, and comfortable… I myself who does not smoke pot, wonders is it helping or is it just covering the harm being done by not seeing a doctor… To me I feel it is like his medicine and is helping him… At least by what I see and how he responds to smoking pot after feeling sick… I would think if he goes into the doctors and all is well then its working…your thoughts???

    • David Mendosa at

      Dear Julie,

      His conditions as you describe them tell me that he is not managing his diabetes well. He is in denial about it, as many people are, and that is so sad.



  • elmer fittery at

    I just wish the US would stop their war on drugs and spend there money on research on ways to use MJ for medical purposes.

    MJ has been used for thousands of years.

  • Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning at

    I am type 2 diabetic, and eat way too much of the wrong things, I used to smoke weed, but it made me crave sweets, and made me insanely hungry. But I am all for it if works for fellow diabetics. It is surely not as bad as alcohol!