Marijuana is what I called it for most of my life, but now cannabis is the popular term for this drug which is also now recognized as having medicinal properties.
It still feels a bit taboo to write about pot. It’s still illegal in many places.
To be honest, I am a huge fan of cannabis. It helps lift my depression. It makes me more talkative. I use it for creativity. I get high and think deep thoughts. I would even say that cannabis has changed me, for the better.
However, having diabetes, there is something interesting I noticed…
In the immediate minutes after smoking cannabis, there is a feeling of euphoria, which is described as “the high.” In addition to this feeling, there are also physical changes that happen from cannabis, such as an increased heart rate. Depending on the amount of THC and kind of cannabis strain, as well as other factors, a person may feel anxious or a bit paranoid as well.
The initial physical and mental symptoms from cannabis have some overlap with the symptoms of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia can also cause a fast heart rate and nervousness.
Before I had a Freestyle Libre or other CGM, I had a problem… I would vape cannabis and then feel the physical effects and slight paranoia, and I’d worry that I was getting low blood glucose! I wasn’t sure if the feelings were from the marijuana or from blood glucose dropping. The solution was to do a finger stick test to see how my glucose was. Most of the time, it was fine.
This whole experience negatively effecting my ability to enjoy the cannabis high.
Even if you haven’t had this experience, you’ve probably experienced a time when you had some physical effects like shakiness or sweating, and not knowing the cause. The mind will try to make sense of the experience and will try to determine the cause, but when multiple things can cause the physical experience, it can be confusing and stressing.
This all became a non-issue for me when I started using a Freestyle Libre (and later a Medtronic CGM) because those devices provide a near real time sensor reading of my blood glucose, and from that I can immediately know “yes, this is hypoglycemia” or “my blood glucose is fine” and then I don’t have the anxiety described here.
What is your experience? Can you relate? Please leave a comment below.
This is part of a series of posts on Cannabis and Diabetes.
Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Glucose) – American Diabetes Association explains symptoms and treatment for hypoglycemia.
Cannabis – Immediate Health Effects – This Colorado Cannabis page has a list of effects, although they can vary per individual.