CBD for Diabetes
If you are one of the millions of people living with diabetes, you know how challenging it can be to manage the disease.
And most prescribed medications come with a long list of potential side effects ranging from upset stomach to liver disease.
But the good news is…
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been well-researched as a potential treatment for diabetes. And it’s showing great promise. With mild and infrequent side effects, CBD may be the answer many diabetic patients have been waiting for.
Want to try CBD to treat your diabetes?
We’ll give you info on how to get started in just a minute.
First, let’s take a look at what makes CBD such a powerful therapeutic option for treating wide a variety of conditions – including diabetes.
It all starts with the internal system responsible for maintaining homeostasis; it is known as our endocannabinoid system.
CBD interacts with endocannabinoid receptors found throughout our brain and body. These interactions can have powerful therapeutic benefits – and that fairly recent discovery has led to exciting new areas of research.
CBD may soon play a much larger role in managing the symptoms of diabetes, and may someday have the potential to prevent or reverse the disease.
How is this possible?
CBD Interacts with Receptors in the Pancreas
Endocannabinoid receptors are highly prevalent in the pancreas. In fact, these receptors have been found specifically in the islet cells of the pancreas – exactly where insulin is produced in the body.
What does this mean?
Well, for the moment it means more research is needed. But the indication is that these receptors may play an important role in the production of insulin, which of course will be key in determining new diabetes treatments.
Can CBD Prevent Diabetes?
In a 2006 study, CBD demonstrated the remarkable capability to delay the onset and decrease the incidence of Type 1 diabetes in laboratory mice.
While clinical studies are still needed, early results are revealing that CBD may have the potential to prevent diabetes – which would be life-changing for future generations.
Can CBD Cure Diabetes?
The short answer is, probably not. BUT — we shouldn’t rule out the possibility before more research is done.
Studies have shown that CBD helps protect islet cells so they can produce insulin and healthy glucose metabolism can take place.
Perhaps the most exciting cure-focused research is…
Scientists have successfully used CBD to reverse early stage Type 1 diabetes in mice. While this is a long ways away from being a prescription-ready treatment, this is exciting and hopeful news for millions.
Preparations for clinical trials are underway.
What we do know for sure is…
CBD is providing new hope for preventing, treating, and possibly curing diabetes. While we await further research with anticipation, we can take advantage of the many ways CBD can ease the symptoms associated with diabetes.
Here’s how CBD can help treat the symptoms of diabetes:
Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels
Research has shown that CBD improves overall metabolism and its anti-inflammatory properties directly treat glucose metabolic disorders.Reduces Chronic Inflammation
Cannabis is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, so this one is probably not a surprise. Chronic inflammation plays a key role in 2 diabetes and its associated resistance to insulin. Researchers believe CBD could be an effective treatment for reducing this inflammation and enabling healthy glucose metabolism.Promotes Metabolism
Obesity plays a major role in Type 2 diabetes and associated complications. CBD can help to suppress appetite and increases fat breakdown to promote metabolism. This gives the endocannabinoid system a chance to re-balance.
CBD has neuroprotective properties that can reduce nerve pain often associated with diabetes. Many people with diabetes experience limited feeling in their hands and feet. Typically this is due to insufficient blood flow, which can break down tissues, cause them to die, and increase the risk for infection. CBD is fully recognized and federally patented as a neuroprotectant with the capability to reduce the breakdown of tissue by up to 30%.Protection Against Diabetic Retinopathy
Retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the eyes. When the damage is caused by high levels of blood glucose, it is known as diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the number one cause of blindness in adults. For people with Type 1 diabetes who have managed the disease for at least 20 years, nearly all are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. For people who have managed Type 2 diabetes for at least 20 years, 80% are expected to develop the condition. Lab research has revealed that CBD provides significant protection against it.Diabetic Cardiomyopathy
People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing cardiomyopathy – a disease that causes the heart muscle to become enlarged or thickened. It is a serious condition that can lead to heart failure. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has identified that CBD can reduce symptoms of diabetic cardiomyopathy in laboratory studies.
High blood pressure is commonly associated with patients who have Type 2 diabetes. In fact, an estimated 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes have elevated blood pressure. In preclinical studies, CBD has shown its capability to reduce blood pressure.Vasodilator
CBD is a vasodilator which means it widens arteries and blood vessels, reduces pressure, and allows for more blood flow. This improves circulation which is particularly important for diabetics.Relieves Gastrointestinal Pain and Cramping
Gastrointestinal pain (GI) and cramping is not uncommon for people with diabetes to experience. CBD can relieve GI pain and cramping.
Eases Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
This condition is a neurological sleep disorder that afflicts a high percentage of people with diabetes. The neuroprotective properties of CBD make it an effective treatment.
Specific CBD Benefits for People with Type 1 Diabetes
Insulin is the critical hormone produced in the pancreas that enables sugar (glucose) to enter cells and produce energy. In people with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little to no insulin and glucose is prevented from entering cells.
Without this process functioning properly, the body cannot sufficiently regulate blood sugar levels.
Early research has shown exciting results that CBD can delay the onset of Type 1 diabetes. In studies with laboratory mice, CBD significantly decreased the occurrence of the disease.
While clinical trials are still needed, preliminary results have been promising.
People with Type 1 diabetes can also benefit from CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. By reducing inflammation of pancreatic cells, CBD can help reduce the need for other medications that may have more serious side effects.
Additionally, CBD can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are a common issue for patients with Type 1 diabetes and can trigger blood glucose fluctuations.
Specific CBD Benefits for People with Type 2 Diabetes
People who suffer from Type 2 diabetes often struggle to lose weight, and an imbalance in the endocannabinoid system may be the reason why. CBD can help restore balance to this important system and help individuals lose weight.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties also benefit people with Type 2 diabetes by suppressing the inflammatory reaction after ingesting sugar.
And just recently…
This is exciting news for people with Type 2 diabetes.
Harvard Medical School researchers have recently taken an interest in a study originally published in 2013 that suggests regular marijuana use decreases insulin resistance and improves blood sugar levels.
The study spanned five years and included data from 4,657 patients.
Consistent cannabis users had —
- 17% decrease in insulin resistance levels
- 16% reduction in fasting insulin levels
- Increased levels of HDL-C
What does all this mean?
While science is still unraveling exactly how CBD as an individual cannabis compound is able to provide so many benefits to diabetic patients, one thing is clear – there is a ‘significant link’ between the regular use of cannabis and healthy blood sugar levels.
And here’s more good news —
The cost of treating diabetes in the United States is estimated to be a staggering $327 billion. That’s the equivalent of 1 in 4 healthcare dollars spent on managing diabetes.
The high cost of currently available diabetes medications are putting a real strain on individuals and families.
CBD, on the other hand, is considerably more affordable. And while CBD should not be considered a replacement for doctor prescribed medications at this point, it is hopeful to know a more affordable treatment option may be in the future for diabetes patients.
Here’s the Key Takeaway
This is an exciting time for cannabis research with new therapeutic benefits being discovered at a rapid pace.
And while CBD has been the most widely researched cannabinoid, we’re still just scratching the surface when it comes to uncovering its full healing potential.
For people with diabetes, there may be great potential to prevent, treat, and cure the disease using CBD and perhaps other cannabis compounds.
Clinical studies will be the next defining moment in this critical research, and the results could forever change the face of this disease and how it’s managed.
Using CBD to Manage Symptoms of Diabetes
Here’s How to Get Started
If you have diabetes, CBD may be able to help you manage associated symptoms. Of course, you should always discuss this – and any regimen you plan to start, with your doctor first.
Here’s everything you need to know to get started with CBD —
Determine Your Dosage
Understanding the dosage of CBD to start with can take a bit of guesswork. Factors that are involved include your symptoms and experience with CBD, as well as your age and weight. To help you get started, we’ve developed this handy CBD dosage calculator.
Choose Full-Spectrum or CBD Isolate
A full-spectrum product will contain CBD along with all the other cannabinoids that are extracted with it. Due to the entourage effect, it is widely accepted that full-spectrum products may provide more overall benefits than isolates.
Choose High-Quality CBD Products
To experience the maximum therapeutic benefits of CBD, you must choose a high-quality product. How your product is grown, harvested, dried, and extracted all make a big difference in the overall quality.
High-quality products are —
Look for cannabis growers who believe in organic practices, avoid harmful chemicals, and use natural methods of pest control.
Cannabis growing experts understand the critical step of careful harvesting to ensure the delicate trichomes are preserved in order to produce the highest quality product.
Extracted with CO2
Extraction methods matter! If you’re looking for a high-quality CBD oil, consider one that has been CO2 extracted. This extraction method produces a clean, pure CBD oil. Low-quality brands typically use harsh extraction methods that involve synthetic chemicals and toxic additives.
This is the process of applying heat to hemp flowers to activate a key compound – CBDA. The activation of CBDA provides greater therapeutic benefits. CBD oil that is not decarboxylated is less effective.
Choose a CBD Product That’s Right for You
There is no shortage of CBD products now available. You can completely customize your CBD experience and have a bit of fun with it.
CBD Products Are Growing
With CBD now legal in all 50 states, the number of CBD products on the market continues to grow. Beverages, candies, sprays, ointments, and so much more are now widely available.
Full Spectrum CBD Oil – an Easy Way to Get Started
Many people who try CBD for the first time, start with a CBD oil. They’re straightforward and easy to use. Still, the options can be overwhelming if you’re just getting started. That’s why we’ve created the Definitive Buyer’s Guide to Full-Spectrum CBD.
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CBD for Type 2 Diabetes: What Are the Benefits and Risks?
The trendy complementary treatment is rising in popularity. Here’s what you need to know before you use CBD to manage type 2 diabetes.
CBD may help relieve symptoms that can contribute to high blood sugar in type 2 diabetes. Everyday Health
You probably don’t have to look farther than your local drugstore or beauty product supplier to know CBD has taken a starring role in everything from sparkling water and gummies to tincture oils and lotions. Some may even say that cannabidiol (CBD) — which, like THC, is a component of the cannabis plant, but doesn’t contain its psychoactive effects — is the “it” ingredient of our age.
You’ve probably also heard that CBD can help lessen stress, anxiety, and pain. “When people are in pain, they have a stress response, which causes an increase in cortisol and an increase in blood sugar,” says Veronica J. Brady, PhD, CDCES, a registered nurse and an assistant professor at the Cizik School of Nursing at the University of Texas in Houston. Relieving pain can help alleviate the stress response and improve blood sugar levels, as well as aid sleep, she says.
If you’re managing type 2 diabetes, it’s natural to be curious about whether CBD might help you manage those symptoms, too, to help stabilize your blood sugar. In fact, the prevalence of cannabis use increased by 340 percent among people with diabetes from 2005 to 2018, according to a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence in July 2020, which surveyed people on their use of cannabis (CBD or THC, in any form) in the previous 30 days.
But does it work for treating diabetes? Some healthcare professionals say CBD may have a role to play, but it’s important to understand that the only health condition CBD has proved effective for is epilepsy in kids. The jury is unfortunately still out, owing to the lack of comprehensive research on CBD and type 2 diabetes.
Still, in the aforementioned survey, 78 percent of people used cannabis that was not prescribed by a doctor. “Diabetes patients might still use cannabis for medical reasons, but not have a prescription,” says Omayma Alshaarawy, MBBS, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at Michigan State University in East Lansing, who led the study. Recreational use is another factor. She points to a separate study, published September 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that found that more than 50 percent of people with medical conditions such as diabetes or cancer use cannabis recreationally.
How People With Type 2 Diabetes Are Using CBD
In Nevada, where Dr. Brady used to work as a certified diabetes educator, her patients with type 2 diabetes used CBD for nerve pain. She says patients would use CBD in a tincture or in oils that they rubbed on painful areas, including their feet. Patients could buy CBD at medical marijuana dispensaries, which would offer dosing instructions. “They worried about the impact on their blood sugars,” says Brady.
Ultimately, though, Brady says that her patients reported that CBD reduced their nerve pain and improved their blood sugar. She adds that those people who used CBD oils for nerve pain also reported sleeping better.
Heather Jackson, the founder and board president of Realm of Caring in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a nonprofit that focuses on cannabis research and education, senses an interest in CBD within the diabetes community. “In general, especially if they’re not well controlled, people are looking at cannabinoid therapy as an alternative, and usually as an adjunct option,” says Jackson. Callers have questions about CBD for neuropathy pain, joint pain, gastrointestinal issues, and occasionally blood glucose control, according to a spokesperson for Realm of Caring.
The organization receives thousands of inquiries about cannabis therapies a month. It keeps a registry of these callers, where they live, and their health conditions. Jackson says that people with type 2 diabetes are not a large percentage of the callers, but they currently have 540 people with diabetes in their database.
Jackson says that Realm of Caring does not offer medical advice, and it does not grow or sell cannabis. Instead, it offers education for clients and doctors about cannabis, based on its ever-growing registry of CBD users, their conditions, side effects, and administration regimen. “We are basically educating,” says Jackson. “We want you to talk to your doctor about the information you receive.”
Scientific Studies on CBD and Type 2 Diabetes, and Barriers to Research
Despite interest among people with type 2 diabetes, large, rigorous studies showing how CBD may affect type 2 diabetes are lacking, says Y. Tony Yang, MPH, a doctor of science in health policy and management and a professor at George Washington University School of Nursing in Washington, DC. Specifically absent are randomized controlled trials, which are the gold standard of medical research.
Early research suggests CBD and diabetes are indeed worth further study. For example, a small study published in October 2016 in Diabetes Care in the United Kingdom looked at 62 people with type 2 diabetes and found that CBD did not lower blood glucose. Participants were not on insulin, but some took other diabetes drugs. They were randomly assigned to five different treatment groups for 13 weeks: 100 milligrams (mg) of CBD twice daily; 5 mg of THCV (another chemical in cannabis) twice daily; 5 mg CBD and 5 mg THCV together twice daily; 100 mg CBD and 5 mg of THCV together twice daily; or placebo. In their paper, the authors reported that THCV (but not CBD) significantly improved blood glucose control.
Other CBD research is still evolving. Some CBD and diabetes studies have been done in rats, which leads to findings that don’t always apply to human health. Other studies have looked more generally at the body’s endocannabinoid system, which sends signals about pain, stress, sleep, and other important functions. Still other studies, including one published in the American Journal of Medicine, have looked at marijuana and diabetes, but not CBD specifically.
That there are so few studies of CBD in people with type 2 diabetes has to do with a lack of focus on CBD as an individual component. Historically, cannabinoids (a group of chemicals in the cannabis plant) have been lumped together, including CBD, THC, and more than 100 others. The 1970 U.S. Controlled Substances Act classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug with the highest restrictions. Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia allow cannabis for medical use and 11 states allow cannabis for recreational use.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the controlled substances list, clearing the way for more production and research of CBD. Meanwhile, growers and manufacturers are better able to isolate CBD, mainly by cultivating industrial hemp that is high in CBD and very low in THC, says Jackson. So, perhaps in the coming years, more research on CBD and diabetes will emerge.
How the FDA Views and Regulates CBD for Disease Treatment
Yet, as evidenced by the July 2020 study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, people with type 2 diabetes aren’t waiting for further study to hop on the trend. Brady says her patients have been open about using CBD, particularly the younger patients. She says one of her older patients was initially uncomfortable about buying CBD in the same shop that sold marijuana but eventually gave in. Brady adds that many people associate CBD with smoking marijuana, despite their distinctly different effects on the body.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first CBD medication in 2018, for treating childhood epilepsy. Currently, there is no other FDA-approved CBD medication for diabetes or any other condition, according to the FDA. In December 2018, the FDA said it was unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to sell food or dietary supplements containing CBD. In April 2019, the FDA stated that it would be taking new steps to evaluate cannabis products, and it held a public hearing about cannabis products in May 2019.
“The FDA, for the time being, has focused its limited enforcement resources on removing CBD products that make claims of curing or treating disease, leaving many CBD products for sale,” wrote Pieter Cohen, MD, and Joshua Sharfstein, MD, in a July 2019 perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Cohen is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and Dr. Sharfstein oversees the office of public health practice and training at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
Precautions for People With Diabetes Looking to Try CBD
For the CBD products already on the market, Jackson says it’s often difficult to know what’s inside. A study published November 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that only 30 percent of CBD products were accurately labeled, with under- and over-labeling of CBD content, and some products containing unlisted chemicals such as THC.
Vaping liquids were the most commonly mislabeled CBD products in the study. The International Research Center on Cannabis and Health in New York City warns that consumers should not purchase vape products from unregulated and illicit markets. A small investigation by the Associated Press in 2019 showed that some CBD vapes had synthetic marijuana.
Jackson points out that CBD may affect certain cholesterol and blood pressure drugs, and a study published in June 2017 in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research detailed these interactions. Other side effects of CBD include tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in weight or appetite, the researchers write.
“What you put in your body is really important,” says Jackson, adding that’s especially true for people with major health conditions like diabetes. Jackson speaks from personal experience as a mom finding CBD treatments for her son’s epilepsy. She says consumers should ask manufacturers whether CBD products are free of mold, pesticides, and other toxins.
Realm of Caring, Jackson’s nonprofit, created a reference sheet for evaluating products and manufacturers. It also endorses products that adhere to standards such as those from the American Herbal Products Association and the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations.
“There is little known about cannabis health effects, especially among patients with chronic conditions. Research is growing, but still solid evidence evolves,” says Dr. Alshaarawy. For these reasons, she recommends that patients talk to their doctors so they can discuss the benefits and potential harms of cannabis and monitor their health accordingly.
How to Talk to Your Healthcare Provider About Using CBD for Type 2 Diabetes
Jackson and Brady advise people who are considering CBD for diabetes to ask their providers about the complementary therapy before adding it to their treatment plan. Brady says it’s difficult to find research about CBD and type 2 diabetes, even in her capacity as a diabetes educator. Still, in her experience, if people are looking for a natural way to manage pain, it’s worth a conversation with their healthcare provider. “It’s something that should be talked about, especially if they’re having significant amounts of pain, or really any pain at all associated with their diabetes,” says Brady.
“It’s a reasonable alternative,” says Brady. “As it gains in popularity, there needs to be some information out there about it.