Diabetes is a very serious disease. It severely impacts on quality of life, requiring significant lifestyle changes by sufferers.
So, this is my question – Can CBD help with diabetes?
Well, there is evidence to suggest that it can. Inflammation is a major part of the damage caused by diabetes. And it is known that CBD does help fight inflammation, so perhaps it can address some of the issues related to diabetes.
After some research, here is what I found about Cannabidiol (CBD) and how it can help with diabetes.
You will find our article titled What is Cannabidiol (CBD)? very helpful with understanding CBD.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a group of diseases that impact the way the body uses blood sugar. Blood sugar (glucose) is a primary source of fuel for cells in the body. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas to regulate the amount of glucose in the bloodstream.
Diabetes prevents the body from producing enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. As excess blood sugar increases the risk of heart disease, and other health complications, diabetes sufferers often need medication and professional treatment to manage their disease.
Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are the most common types of the disease. People that suffer from type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin. The immune system destroys cells responsible for making insulin, requiring the need to take insulin each day to remain alive.
Doctors do not know the cause of type 1 diabetes, but they do know the common factors that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People that are overweight, inactive, or suffer from high blood pressure are more likely to develop this disease.
About 9.4% of the population has diabetes. It also affects about 25% of those over the age of 65. In some countries, diabetes rates continue to climb in conjunction with the rates of obesity.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believe that another 84.1 million people have prediabetes, which is the condition that precedes type 2 diabetes.
Traditional Diabetes Treatments
After diagnosing diabetes, doctors often begin treatment plans to help manage glucose levels while also reducing some of the factors that lead to increased health complications.
In most cases, doctors want patients to manage their food intake to limit glucose spikes and reduce their waistline. Some people can successfully manage their type 2 diabetes with more physical activity and healthy food choices.
Besides physical activity and a healthy diet, doctors often prescribe insulin or other diabetes medications.
People that suffer from type 1 diabetes need to take insulin daily as their bodies no longer produce the hormone. They often take insulin with their meals or use an insulin pump to receive steady doses during the day.
Doctors also commonly prescribe diabetes pills and insulin injections to people suffering from type 2 diabetes. However, unlike type 1 diabetes patients, those suffering from type 2 diabetes may only need to take insulin during blood sugar spikes.
The most common types of insulin include:
- Rapid acting
- Short acting
- Long acting
- Intermediate acting
Doctors work with patients to determine which type of insulin to prescribe. The type depends on how well the patient responds to insulin, their lifestyle choices, and how often they check their blood sugar levels.
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes may use rapid-acting insulin medications or injections before meals. However, those with type 1 diabetes also often need to take long-acting insulin medications to keep the hormones pumping through the body.
Long-acting insulin medications provide all day or overnight results. Intermediate-acting medicines last up to 18 hours.
Besides insulin, some type 2 diabetes patients receive drugs to increase insulin production. This includes products such as Diabinese, Glucotrol, and Glynase. Some patients may also receive drugs that improve how the body uses insulin or decrease sugar absorption.
No matter the medication, the goal remains the same – to manage glucose levels. People that suffer from type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes do not produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, resulting in excess glucose.
Too much glucose leads to additional health risks, such as:
- Heart disease
- Nerve damage
- Dental disease
- Kidney disease
- Foot problems
To manage these risks, doctors develop treatment plans that combine medications, a healthy meal plan, and exercise. While CBD may not replace the need for medications, it may help reduce the risks of diabetes complications.
How Can CBD Help with Diabetes?
It didn’t take long to find CBD diabetes research. In fact, taking CBD may even help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Activating the CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system increases food intake, promotes weight gain, and increasing the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In clinical trials, pharmaceuticals that inhibit the CB1 receptors helped patients lose weight and improve metabolic risk factors for diabetes.
CBD also inhibits the CB1 receptors, potentially reducing the risk of diabetes. Existing studies seem to back this concept.
According to a 2013 study of 4657 adult men and women, marijuana users tend to have lower levels of fasting insulin and smaller waist circumferences compared to adults that never use marijuana. Of course, these are described as marijuana users, not just CBD consumers.
The medical community knows that oxidative stress and inflammation are important factors in the development of type 2 diabetes and complications related to all types of the disease. It is possible then that CBD may help address both issues.
Reducing oxidative stress may help combat some of the problems that arise from diabetes. For example, type-2 diabetes increases the risk of dementia by 500% and CBD may reduce this risk.
Researchers believe that the increased risk comes from oxidative stress and inflammation that leads to disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). In a medical review, researchers summarized how cannabinoids, including CBD, possess anti-inflammatory and vascular protective properties, potentially reversing BBB dysfunction.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes also increases the risk of nephropathy, leading to degradation in the kidneys. This also increases the risk of additional complications from the disease.
CB1 receptors may promote inflammation and cell death. CBD inhibits these receptors, possibly fighting nephropathy.
Another interesting benefit of CBD is its ability to help improve glycemic control. In a study involving 62 subjects suffering from type 2 diabetes, CBD combined with tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) helped reduce specific markers connected to diabetes.
The study found that CBD and THCV reduced fasting plasma glucose levels, body weight, liver triglyceride content, and markers of inflammation.
Further support for this idea comes from a 2011 medical review. The authors of the review state that the CB1 receptors enhance energy storage in the adipose tissue, reducing energy expenditure and influencing glucose metabolism. The conclusion is that CBD may help lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin production.
In most of these studies, researchers describe the way that CBD oil may influence the body and help treat some of the symptoms of diabetes. The endocannabinoid system contains two receptors – CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mostly located in the brain, while the immune system has CB2 receptors.
CBD helps activate and inhibit these receptors, resulting in various bodily changes, such as the benefits discussed for reducing diabetes complications.
Not everyone appears to be onboard with CBD for diabetes. The former president of the American Cannabis Nurses Association stated that she has not witnessed blood sugar control with CBD alone.
She discusses how CBD helps reduce inflammation and may ease the pain related to diabetes neuropathy, but has not seen CBD reduce the need for diabetes medication. However, she may not be aware of the studies discussed above, as there is growing evidence that CBD can have a positive impact on markers that lead to insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes sufferers.
How to Use CBD Oil for Diabetes
Many CBD products exist, providing a variety of options for using this compound to fight diabetes. The most common options include CBD oil, pills, and vaping products. Companies are also starting to produce more CBD edibles, creams, and sprays.
Have a look at our article on CBD Product Types for much more information about the different types available.
Some of these CBD products work faster and others remain in the bloodstream longer. For example, it takes longer for the CBD to take effect when swallowing a pill or eating an edible. As with long-lasting insulin medications, the results also last longer.
Placing drops of CBD oil under the tongue provides a faster delivery method. This bypasses the liver, allowing the CBD to reach the bloodstream quickly. Unfortunately, the CBD also leaves the bloodstream faster.
The studies do not indicate what type of CBD may work best for diabetes. Edibles and pills provide longer results while CBD oils work faster.
Side Effects of Taking CBD for Diabetes
Physicians consider CBD safe for adults when taken properly. Subjects have safely used 300 milligrams of CBD per day for up to six months. It may also be safe to take higher doses of 1200 to 1500 milligrams for up to four weeks.
Some of the side effects that people report include lightheadedness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and low blood pressure. These are non-serious side effects, but there are a few additional precautions.
Doctors advise women that are pregnant or breastfeeding to avoid CBD. CBD may also interfere with certain medications.
We have an article on Potential Side Effects of Using CBD with much more information. Please be sure to review this information.
Summary – Can CBD Help with Diabetes?
CBD shows promise for helping to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and some of the complications of diabetes. The compound interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, helping to fight inflammation and oxidative stress that contributes to diabetes.
While CBD could help reduce the severity
of diabetes, people should not stop taking their existing diabetes medication
without working with their doctors.