Marijuana Chemical Reduces the Development of Diabetes in Animal Study
Researchers of the Hadassah University Hospital of Jerusalem investigated the effects of the plant cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) on the development of diabetes in mice, which develop diabetes due to genetic causes. So-called NOD mice develop insulitis within 4 to 5 weeks of age followed by diabetes within a median of 14 weeks. Insulitis is an inflammation of the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, and diabetes is a result of a destruction of these cells.
NOD mice aged 6 to 12 weeks that were treated with 10 to 20 injections of CBD (5 mg per kilogram body weight) presented with a significantly reduced incidence of diabetes of 30 per cent compared to 86 per cent in untreated control mice. In addition, in the mice that developed diabetes in the treated group disease onset was a significantly delayed. Blood levels of two cytokines that promote inflammation, IFN-gamma and TFN-alpha, are usually increased in NOD mice. A treatment with CBD caused a significant reduction (more than 70 per cent) in levels of both cytokines. In another experiment CBD-treated mice were observed for 26 weeks. While the 5 control mice all developed diabetes, 3 of 5 of the CBD-treated mice remained diabetes- free at 26 weeks.
Researchers concluded that confirmation of the observed immunomodulatory effects of CBD "may lead to the clinical application of this agent in the prevention of type 1 diabetes" and possibly other autoimmune diseases. They note that many patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes have sufficient residual cells that produce insulin at the time of diagnosis, and may be candidates for immunomodulation therapy.