Diabetes and the Dangers of Synthetic Cannabinoids
Published 14 Oct 2020

Unlike real cannabinoids from real cannabis plants, synthetic cannabinoids are a class of research compounds, hundreds of them, designed to mimic real ones and interact with the body’s own endocannabinoid system the same way they do. The first of these, JWH-018, was a “designer” drug highly abused in the mid-2000s. Synthetic cathinones, or bath salts, are another. Is CBD safe?

Farmers spray synthetic cannabinoids directly onto cannabis itself or onto other herbs. It then sells as products with specific names, such as Agent Orange, Armageddon, herbal incense, spice, K2, bonsai, and others. These products contain anywhere from one active compound to several. Some synthetic cannabinoids, or sCBs, come in propylene glycol, either as concentrated oil extract or as powder.

Dangers of Synthetic Cannabinoids

Sadly, it is impossible to identify hundreds of prospective sCBs in tests. Even worse, dozens of new ones arrive every year. The sheer variety of sCBs available makes dosing confusing, certainly risky, for folks. Each sCB has its own potency. If a person is unable to determine a safe and suitable dose, he or she is much more likely to consume too much, even overdose. More important, symptoms are inconsistent.

No two sets of symptoms for sCB overdose are the same. Doctors and nurses who meet these patients seldom have experience or guidance to help direct them. What is more, many of these cases enter the emergency room. As real emergencies. Between the years 2016 and 2018, many reports were blaming two particular common and oft-lethal chemicals for these cases, being AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-ADB.

Effect of Synthetic Cannabinoids on the Lungs

Many studies show the harmful effects caused by sCBs. They are directly culpable for many health problems. They are often deadly. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, acute respiratory failure, stroke, diffuse alveolar hemorrhage, seizures, heart attack, even kidney damage and more, are all potential risks of using sCBs. These are incredibly dangerous drugs. They cause respiratory failure.

Several case reports now associate sCBs with toxicity of the lungs. This is not even the biggest danger of using sCBs, when one thinks of their other possible harms, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a diagnostic tool that measured fairly consistent symptoms in confirmed cases during the recent vaping outbreak. This outbreak is the direct result of fake cannabinoids.

They are the most likely cause of acute respiratory distress syndrome and even acute lung injury. MedStar doctors, while visiting sCB-overdose patients, found pulmonary edema and tachycardia the most common associated symptoms. Organ failure was the result of respiratory failure and severe neurological changes. Others claim similar, with sCB-induced lung issues generally presenting as:

  • Prolonged use of sCBs.
  • Condition of lung worsens suddenly, as in immediately after using sCBs, or over the course of several days.
  • Hospitalized patients were under significant distress and presented with low blood-oxygen.
  • Survivors endured intubation for up to a week.
  • Diagnoses include pulmonary edema and cat scans show ground glass infiltrates within the lungs too.
  • Corticosteroid treatment is promising in the short-term.
  • Eventually, pulmonary edema and lung inflammation subside.

Effect of Synthetic Cannabinoids on Diabetes

Less known are the dangers of sCBs for diabetics. Recently, in a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Spanish doctors from a Madrid hospital described hyperglycemia as another concern. The report discussed the case of a 23-year old diabetic male suffering Type 1. After smoking unknown synthetics from a laced packet of herbs, he enjoyed dinner and injected his usual insulin dose.

However, just 40 minutes later, he was in the emergency room, vomiting heavily, hallucinating, and with an insanely high blood-sugar level of around 400 milligrams per deciliter. The patient confessed to doctors his use of synthetic cannabinoids, and after around 10 hours scared in the hospital, he made a full recovery. Clearly, the sCBs exacerbated his diabetes and caused some major complications.

The job of cannabinoid receptors, one of them anyway, is to regulate the healthy production of insulin and any inflammatory response, which is why the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells in those with Type 1 diabetes. Much study already shows that activating CB1, the psychoactive cannabinoid receptor, damages the beta cells responsible for producing insulin in the pancreas.

In light of these observations and findings, it is unsurprising that synthetic cannabinoids are likely to worsen diabetes in every way possible. As the authors of the study note clearly, at least one case exists of a Type 1 diabetic actually dying, from apparent ketoacidosis, or the acidification of the blood, a result of consuming synthetic cannabinoids. Rather stay away from them. Natural cannabinoids exist aplenty.

Synthetic Cannabinoids vs. Natural Plant-Based Ones

Natural cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD, have proven positive effects on diabetes, most especially Type 2. Plant-derived CBD oil products lower rates of both Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Several studies show regular consumption of CBD oil associated with healthier folks, and a number of explanations might explain this clear discrepancy.

Perhaps it is due to the anti-inflammatory effect of CBD through peripheral receptors. Might it be due to the desensitization of CBD in fatty tissue, or even because of the entourage effect, where cannabinoids all work together protectively and synergistically? Regardless, the evidence shows folks using recreational weed are less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Those using sCBs are at higher risk.

Most using sCBs began it as a substitute for actual weed. Why? For most, it was because buds remain illegal at the federal level, while synthetics are cheaper and more difficult to identify in drug tests. Restrictive policies and fear campaigns continue to drive folks to use harder and more dangerous drugs. Natural edible oil is safer. Cheaper. More effective. You can buy hemp oil online, it is that easy today.


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