As more and more research shows that products from the cannabis plant have remarkable health benefits, CBD is being seen as a “cure-all” for many diseases. Diabetes is no exception.
Diabetes is an extremely common disease. In 2017, the National Diabetes Statistics Report found that there were 30.3 million people in the United States living with diabetes. That means about one in 10 people suffer from the disease in some form.
A person’s age made it more likely for people to get diabetes. Only 10 percent or less of the general population suffers from diabetes, but a quarter of Americans over the age of 65 have diabetes. The good news is that CBD oil can benefit people who have diabetes.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD works with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) by working with cannabinoid receptors. The body already produces cannabinoids, but CBD helps the body produce even more. This helps the ECS communicate with other systems in the body, which helps the body stay at homeostasis or equilibrium.
Some research suggests that when the ECS is overactive, people may be more likely to get diabetes. CBD can help regulate the ECS, so it is not too inactive or overactive.
When an individual uses CBD oil, the ECS is better able to regulate functions in the body. Some of these functions that relate to diabetes include:
- The function of the pancreas
- Sensitivity to insulin
- Breakdown of lipids
Types of Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Both occur when the body cannot regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is an important sugar that helps feed the cells in the body. However, there are a few differences between the two types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
Only 5 percent of all people who have diabetes have type 1 diabetes. This type happens when the body cannot produce insulin. Without insulin, glucose cannot enter the body’s cells to fuel them.
People with this type of diabetes show signs of the disease very quickly. Often, the symptoms develop over just a few weeks. This type of diabetes was once called juvenile diabetes because it usually develops in childhood or adolescence. However, people can also get this disease later in life, which is why it is no longer known as juvenile diabetes.
This type of diabetes is caused by a problem with the body’s immune system. When it is working normally, it works to fight off viruses and bad bacteria. But in a person with this type of diabetes, it sees the body’s healthy cells as an unhealthy invader. The system begins to attack the body’s own cells.
The immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas. These cells are responsible for producing insulin in the body. Without the beta cells, the body cannot produce insulin for itself anymore. It is unknown why this system attacks the beta cells.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is, by far, the most common form of diabetes. About 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have this type of diabetes. This form of diabetes happens when a person’s cells do not respond to insulin in the body anymore. This is because the cells have become resistant to insulin. Insulin resistance can lead to extremely high levels of sugar in the blood. As the disease progresses, people may not be able to produce the insulin they need either.
Sometimes the symptoms of this type of diabetes can take a long time to develop. Other people may not even notice symptoms until they have complications from their diabetes.
The causes of this type of diabetes are not as well-known. All researchers know is that it is caused by the body becoming resistant to insulin. The beta cells in the pancreas can still produce insulin, but the body is unable to use it. Factors such as being overweight and inactive may contribute to insulin resistance. When the body is resistant to insulin, levels of inflammation can increase.
Anyone with diabetes must continually monitor his or her blood sugar levels on a regular basis.
Complications of Diabetes
Acute complications are the most dangerous of the complications in diabetes. Someone with diabetes may suffer from ketoacidosis, where the blood produces too many ketones. They may also suffer from hypoglycemia, where there is not enough sugar in the blood. Any of these acute complications require immediate emergency care.
People who do not receive prompt medical attention for these acute complications may suffer severe problems. These include seizures, unconsciousness, and death.
Chronic problems are long-term ones. They usually result when a person is not managing his or her diabetes properly. When diabetes is not managed properly, the levels of sugar in the blood will get too high. Over the long term, this can damage major organs in the body, such as the kidneys, the heart, the eyes, and even the skin. Eventually, people who do not manage their diabetes properly will suffer from nerve damage.
Symptoms of Diabetes
No matter which type of diabetes a person is suffering from, there are a few common symptoms of diabetes they may suffer from.
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Cuts on the body that do not heal properly
- Excessive hunger
- Blurry vision
- Excessive feelings of fatigue
Diabetes may also lead to tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. It may also lead to unexplained weight loss and mood changes.
How CBD Can Help Diabetes
There are several benefits of CBD when it comes to diabetes.
One of the highest risk factors for diabetes is being overweight or obese. One study looked at 4,657 people, some of whom were current or past users of marijuana, and some of whom had never used marijuana. The researchers found that people who were currently using marijuana had a waist circumference that was an average of an inch and a half smaller than those who were not using marijuana. People who had a smaller waist size were less likely to get diabetes later in life. Taking marijuana can also help prevent prediabetes, especially in people who are at risk for it.
Sensitivity to Insulin
With some types of diabetes, the individual is not sensitive to insulin in their body. Some research suggests that CBD can increase an individual’s insulin sensitivity.
One study showed that people who were either past or current users of marijuana had a 16 percent lower fasting insulin levels than those who did not use marijuana. The higher the fasting insulin levels, the more likely a person is to be insulin resistant. This study also showed that these marijuana users had a 17 percent lower level of insulin resistance.
Another study from 2016 showed that people who used marijuana benefited from the cannabinoid. Their blood glucose levels dropped significantly, and they were better able to produce insulin. They also had higher levels of the protein adiponectin, which helps regulate the levels of sugar in the blood.
Many times, people with diabetes suffer from complications such as chronic pain in the nerves. This is because diabetes can damage the nerves, resulting in pain from performing normal activities. Sometimes this neuropathy can even be fatal.
However, one study in 2014 showed that CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol might help people suffering from this nerve pain. Participants in the study applied a spray containing both cannabinoids to the areas of their bodies that had diabetic neuropathy. This was usually the hands or feet. Study participants who had used the CBD and THC spray reported fewer symptoms before the spray. Usually, sprays containing higher doses of THC provided longer pain relief than those containing lower doses.
Because these sprays contain the substance that makes users high, individuals should always consult with their doctors before using the sprays.
Many people with diabetes suffer from eye problems. This is because diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the retina in the eye. The retina is very sensitive to light, and it converts light into signals to send to the brain. Diabetes damages the vessels in the retina and causes them to leak fluid. This makes the retina less sensitive.
While there are no clinical trials about the effectiveness of CBD for diabetic retinopathy, there is some research that shows it may be beneficial. One study on animals with diabetes showed that after about one to four weeks of CBD, the diabetic animals were better protected against eye problems from diabetes. While more research is needed on this use of CBD, people with diabetes may benefit from CBD.
Lowering Blood Pressure
Many people who suffer from diabetes have hypertension. In fact, about 80 percent of people with the most common type of diabetes have higher than normal hypertension. This can lead to brain damage, heart damage, or heart attacks. It also puts the individual at risk for a stroke, kidney disease, or metabolic syndrome.
One study that examined nine men who had received CBD showed that the substance reduced their resting blood pressure. The researchers believe it may be in part to CBD’s stress-relieving properties.
People who have diabetes must be careful of the types of foods they eat. Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) are higher in carbohydrates. This means the body digests and absorbs them quicker, which means the levels of glucose in the blood can spike.
Some studies have shown that marijuana and other cannabis products can help users metabolize carbs better. While more research is needed, it is most likely because cannabis affects the way cannabinoids interact with insulin.
CBD Is Anti-Inflammatory
Many times, diabetes can develop because there is inflammation in the body. Some research suggests that CBD can help prevent the type of chronic inflammation that causes diabetes. This is because of the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is another cannabinoid from the marijuana plant. It is similar to THC. There is limited research on this compound, but it most likely does make the user high.
However, some early research suggests that THCV can help reduce an individual’s resistance to insulin. It can also help regulate the level of blood glucose.
Limitations of CBD
While CBD products have been shown to help a variety of problems associated with diabetes, it cannot treat diabetes. Individuals who are using CBD for diabetes will need to continue to monitor their blood sugar and insulin levels.
Another concern with CBD is that it may interact with prescription medication or insulin. It is unknown how it may interact with other drugs, so individuals taking any type of medication will want to check with their doctors before beginning CBD.
If the product an individual is using contains tetrahydrocannabinol, the individual may become high and will not realize that the blood sugar is spiking.
Potential Negative Effects of CBD
There are a few undesirable effects people may experience after using CBD and marijuana products. In people under the age of 25, the brain is still developing. Because marijuana can affect the development of the brain, people under the age of 25 should not use marijuana products.
While cannabidiol is generally considered safe, it can have a few side effects. One of the most common effects is an increased appetite. This might lead to people eating more carbohydrates than they would normally. This is not healthy for people with diabetes because it can cause blood sugar levels to spike.
The most common way to take CBD is through CBD oil. This is extracted from the marijuana plant and added to a “carrier oil” to make it easier to take. Usually, it is diluted in a natural oil such as coconut oil or hemp seed oil.
CBD oil is not for smoking. Instead, the user can add it to food or use it on the skin. However, the most popular way to take it is under the tongue. The individual uses the dropper to place a few drops under the tongue and hold them there for up to a minute. This allows the blood vessels under the tongue to quickly absorb the oil so users can start feeling the effects right away. The individual can then swallow the oil after a minute.
If an individual has never used a cannabis product before, he or she should start with a relatively low dose at first. There are no official recommendations on the correct dosage because many professional organizations do not recommend using it at all. However, many products recommend taking two to 20 mg per day. It is best to start off with a smaller amount of the product first and slowly build up.
A person’s body does not become resistant to CBD after an individual has been using it for a while. This means that after someone has found the ideal dosage, he or she should stick to it.
The Bottom Line
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of marijuana for medical use. The only cannabis-related product the FDA has approved is a CBD product to help in seizures. This is because there are not enough studies about the safety or long-term effects of products from the cannabis plant, and the professionals would rather err on the side of caution.
However, there is much research that suggests CBD oil and other marijuana-related products may be beneficial for treating complications from diabetes. People who have chronic diabetes will want to consider the risks of marijuana and diabetes. In some cases, the benefits of CBD oil may outweigh the risks. Individuals who are interested in managing their diabetes with CBD oil should consult their doctors first. This will help them make the best choices for their health.