Can CBD Help With Diabetes?
- Diabetes can be managed, but no treatment has been found that would ultimately cure the disease(1).
- A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology states that CBD may be helpful in the treatment of diabetes because of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties(2).
- Another study on diabetes that was published in The American Journal of Pathology reports that CBD helps reduce the likelihood of diabetic patients developing diabetic retinopathy. This therapeutic effect is because of CBD’s ability to reduce neurotoxicity and neuroinflammation(3). Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye condition in diabetic patients that can result in blindness(4).
- Studies have revealed that CBD might alleviate diabetes symptoms. However, further research needs to be done on CBD’s effects on diabetes.
- Before using CBD on diabetic patients, it is essential to consult with a physician first.
Why People Are Turning to CBD for Diabetes
Medications commonly used for diabetes, like metformin and insulin, have side effects. Some drugs have more adverse effects on users than others.
For example, using thiazolidinedione, a type 2 diabetes medication, is linked with an increased risk of anemia and heart failure(5).
A study in 2018 found that the use of type 2 diabetes medications, such as sulfonylureas and basal insulin, was associated with higher cardiovascular risks, like heart disease(6).
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is usually diagnosed in children and teens, but some adults may also develop this disease. Meanwhile, type 2 diabetes (T2D) is more common in obese adults(7).
In type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas, resulting in the organ’s failure to produce insulin.
In type 2 diabetes patients, the body can still produce insulin, but it becomes resistant to insulin’s effects. Eventually, a type 2 diabetic patient’s pancreas stops producing insulin(8).
Insulin is a hormone that lowers the amount of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Little or no insulin results in excess blood glucose(9).
As the studies previously mentioned have shown, diabetes medications may pose risks to patients. Hence, some diabetic patients have turned to cannabidiol or CBD oil to treat their diabetes.
CBD comes from the Cannabis Sativa plant. It is believed to have several therapeutic effects in patients without getting them high.
CBD’s counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), also comes from the marijuana plant. This active ingredient, however, can induce a high in users.
A study published in Neuropharmacology found that CBD is a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of type 1 diabetes. The study was conducted in non-obese, diabetes-prone female rodents(10).
Another study that was published in The American Journal of Pathology has shown that CBD reduces neurotoxicity, chronic inflammation, and blood-retinal barrier (BRB) breakdown in diabetic animals(11).
BRB breakdown is a feature of diabetic retinopathy that could result in neural tissue damage and the loss of a diabetic patient’s vision(12.)
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye complication that affects the retina’s blood vessels. It can also cause blindness in diabetic people(13).
Neurotoxicity and neuroinflammation, meanwhile, are caused by high blood glucose levels. When these conditions in diabetic patients are not managed, they may eventually lead to Alzheimer’s disease(14).
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 2016 published in the journal Diabetes Care has shown that the use of CBD combined with tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), another cannabis compound, reduced glucose levels in the blood and increased the production of insulin in patients with type 2 diabetes(15).
Another study reports that CBD may have promising therapeutic benefits in the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disorders(16). The study outlines CBD’s ability to reduce oxidative stress, cell death, inflammation, and fibrosis.
Fibrosis is characterized by the thickening of connective tissues due to injury. In diabetic patients, fibrosis is likely to happen because high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can injure tissues(17).
How CBD Oil Works to Alleviate Symptoms of Diabetes
Though type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different causes, they share some common symptoms. These include(18):
- Extreme hunger
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Ketone presence in the urine (when the body does not have enough insulin, and hence, excess glucose), muscles and fats are broken down and produce a byproduct called ketones)
- Blurred vision
- Sores that heal slowly
- Gum, skin, vaginal or other infections
CBD used for diabetes treatment may help manage some of the symptoms previously mentioned.
CBD for Inflammation
Inflammation is linked to diabetes and complications related to the disease.
A study in 2019 published in the journal European Cardiology has found that anti-inflammatory medications may help treat the disease, primarily type 1 diabetes(19).
A study published in Future Medicinal Chemistry has found that cannabinoids, like CBD, are potent anti-inflammatory agents(20).
There are three types of cannabinoids, namely endocannabinoids (produced by the body), phytocannabinoids (derived from the marijuana plant, like CBD and THC), and laboratory-derived cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and help it regulate several functions, including mood, appetite, memory, and immune response.
Another study has found that CBD’s immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory effects could be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis (21).
Research has found that type 2 diabetes patients are likely to develop arthritis because both conditions are caused by common factors, such as age and obesity(22).
CBD for Weight Management
Obesity is one of the contributing factors to diabetes. Obese individuals often have high amounts of various substances in the body that contribute to insulin resistance, such as fatty acids, glycerol, and cytokines(23).
CBD has been found to help prevent obesity by contributing to fat browning, the process of turning white adipose to brown adipose. This process aids the body in burning energy(24).
Another study in 2018 outlines the role of cannabinoids in weight loss(25). Researchers have found that the manipulation of cannabinoid receptors (CB) can have anti-obesity effects.
Inhibition of cannabinoid receptor 1 helps reduce body weight and food intake. Stimulation of cannabinoid receptor 2, meanwhile, limits inflammation and, similarly, reduces food intake and weight gain.
CBD for Skin Irritation
Diabetic patients often develop a variety of skin conditions that can be benign, deforming, and even life-threatening.
These ailments can also be signs of the disease in patients who have undiagnosed diabetes(26).
A 2019 study reports that CBD-enriched ointment was therapeutic in treating skin conditions, especially those with inflammatory backgrounds, without causing adverse effects in the test subjects(27).
The study also concludes that CBD may help improve the quality of life of patients with skin disorders.
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Diabetes
- Studies done on human and animal models have shown that CBD has therapeutic properties that may help treat diabetes.
- Diabetic patients should not worry about using CBD for their health condition as the safety of cannabidiol has been proven(28).
- CBD is non-addictive. This fact has been confirmed by the World Health Organization (29). Therefore, there is no potential for CBD substance abuse.
- As long as CBD use is allowed by federal and state laws, its purchase does not require a prescription.
- Further research still needs to be made on CBD’s ability to lower blood sugar levels and treat diabetes and the conditions that are usually associated with it.
- Diabetic patients should still take note of the side effects of CBD, although they are minimal. These reactions include tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and weight (30).
- The United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has yet to approve CBD for the treatment of diabetes. For this reason, a standard dosage for CBD as therapy for diabetes has not yet been developed.
- The selling of CBD is unregulated by the US FDA. This lack of regulation resulted in the proliferation of mislabeled CBD products, especially from CBD manufacturers online (31). Buyers are encouraged to check the brand’s credibility first to make sure that they are purchasing high-quality products.
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Diabetes
There are several alternative treatments for the alleviation of diabetes symptoms, such as acupuncture and herbal medicines.
According to a study, acupuncture is used not only in the treatment of diabetes; it is also effective in preventing and managing the disease’s complications (32).
The study details how acupuncture helps the pancreas synthesize insulin and lower blood sugar.
Acupuncture also has anti-obesity properties (33).
Momordica Charantia, a plant popularly known as bitter melon, is believed to be an effective diabetes remedy.
In a study conducted on diabetic rodents, the administration of Momordica Charantia as a fruit juice has significantly lowered the blood sugar of the test subjects(34).
Another study affirms that Momordica Charantia is made of compounds that have anti-diabetic properties.
Trigonella Foenum Graecum
Trigonella Foenum-Graecum, popularly known as fenugreek, is used in households because of the plant’s aromatic properties(35). In India, it is a popular treatment for diabetes(36).
A study found that the blood sugar levels of type 2 diabetes patients markedly reduced when the test subjects were given 15 grams of fenugreek seed powder soaked in water(37).
While the treatments mentioned above are effective in alleviating diabetes symptoms, the benefits of CBD help treat the symptoms of conditions related to diabetes, like high blood pressure and neuropathic pain.
In a clinical trial conducted in 2017, researchers suggested that CBD may have cardiovascular benefits, including the attenuation of blood pressure(38).
Sativex, a cannabis-derived spray made of CBD and THC, has been approved in Canada to treat central neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis and for the alleviation for cancer pain(39).
How to Choose the Right CBD for Diabetes
According to Mayo Clinic, diabetic neuropathy is characterized by nerve damage in the legs and feet(40). It can be painful and even disabling.
A 2020 study was conducted in patients who had neuropathy of the lower extremities. Researchers suggested that the topical application of CBD oil may reduce intense, sharp pain, and cold, itchy sensations in the test subjects(41).
The researchers suggested that, compared to current neuropathy therapies, CBD used as a pain relief medication may be more effective and well-tolerated in patients.
In purchasing a CBD oil product, buyers should be aware of the three main types. These include full-spectrum CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil, and isolates.
Many users with experience in CBD oil treatments prefer to buy full-spectrum oils. This type of CBD oil is believed to be more therapeutic due to the entourage effect.
The entourage effect is characterized by the synergistic effect of all the active ingredients of a cannabis plant. These components include less than 0.3% THC, fatty acids, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential oils.
Some users, however, prefer broad-spectrum oils as they have the same components as full-spectrum oils, except for THC.
This type of CBD oil is recommended for those who want to avoid the risks of using CBD oils with trace amounts of THC.
Drug tests may detect THC. The substance may also cause mild psychoactive effects in some individuals.
There are also CBD isolates for those who prefer to use CBD oil made purely from cannabidiol.
CBD Dosage for Diabetes
Due to the lack of US FDA regulation, there is no dosage chart for CBD use in the treatment of diabetes.
The general rule is to administer small amounts of CBD to diabetic patients. If there are no adverse side effects, the dosage may be increased gradually.
Patients are encouraged to use a journal to document their reactions to CBD and whether the treatment shows significant improvement in their blood glucose levels. They may show this journal to their trusted physician for better guidance.
Before adding CBD to one’s diabetes medication regimen, they should inform their doctor first.
How to Take CBD for Diabetes
CBD products come in different formats, so there are several ways to take CBD for diabetes. Some diabetic patients prefer to take CBD orally.
CBD oils and tinctures (drops) can be mixed with food and beverages, like coffee. CBD products in these formats can also be taken orally.
For maximum efficacy, tinctures may be applied sublingually (under the tongue).
Some product formats allow diabetic patients to ingest CBD, such as gummies and pills.
CBD is also available in topical formulations, such as creams, lotions, balms, and salves. These CBD products may be applied to painful areas, such as joints, feet, and legs.
CBD oils and topical formulations can also be used during massages to help in the treatment of chronic pain.
CBD also comes in vape and pen formats. However, vaping may be damaging to the lungs(42).
Diabetes can be managed, but it cannot be cured entirely. If its symptoms are left untreated, it could progress to worse conditions, like diabetic foot, amputations, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Conventional diabetes medications are effective. However, some diabetes drugs can cause adverse side effects in users.
CBD has therapeutic properties that may help in the treatment of diabetes symptoms, such as its ability to manage inflammation, weight gain, and skin disorders.
However, further research is needed on CBD’s effect on diabetes, such as its effect on an individual’s insulin levels.
Before diabetic patients use CBD as part of their therapy, they should consult with a doctor first.
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