Can CBD Oil Help Treat Diabetes?

By Kristina Parren
Mykenzie Johnson, Unsplash

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes affect people of all ages and backgrounds. While there is currently no cure for diabetes, its symptoms can be treated with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is not a substitution for common anti-diabetic medications and insulin, but it may help to alleviate bothersome symptoms. Research continues to find possible CBD oil benefits for diabetics.

To understand how CBD may treat diabetes symptoms, it’s first important to understand the disease itself.

Diabetes Type 1 vs Type 2

Diabetes occurs when the body cannot make sufficient amounts of insulin, resulting in elevated blood sugar. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common types of diabetes, with 10 percent of people with diabetes diagnosed as type 1 and 80-90 percent diagnosed as type 2.

Gestational diabetes is a third form of diabetes occurring during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes disappears after the baby is born, but it can be a predictor of type 2 diabetes later in life.

Type 1

Unlike type 2, type 1 diabetes is unpreventable. Type 1 occurs when a person’s immune system attacks their insulin-producing pancreas cells. Previously known as “juvenile diabetes,” type 1 can happen in both children and adults.

If you have type 1 diabetes, then you may experience these symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Excessive hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision

More severe symptoms, known as diabetic ketoacidosis, include:

  • Dry skin
  • Fruity-smelling breath
  • Nausea or stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion and loss of focus

Type 2

When you think of diabetes, you most likely think of type 2. This form of diabetes is associated with obesity and lifestyle choices and therefore occurs more often in adults. It is characterized by insulin-resistance and insulin deficiency.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Excessive hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Weight loss

Type 2 diabetes can also lead to more serious health issues as the disease progresses, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Eye disease
  • Dental and gum diseases
  • Nerve damage
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Some cancers

How Does CBD Work?

CBD oil is a cannabinoid found in the hemp and cannabis plants, and its chemical makeup is similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, however, CBD does not have mind-altering effects—a major part of its growing appeal for all ages.

Both THC and CBD affect the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), but CBD affects different cannabinoid receptors. So, how does this talk of the ECS relate to the effect of CBD on diabetes? The ECS plays a role in food intake and energy stability, and scientists have associated an overactive ECS with obesity and type 2 diabetes. CBD’s impact on the ECS system may play a role in managing hyperglycemia, pain, and other byproducts of diabetes as a result of its activity at specific receptors.

The compound’s unique properties lend themselves to a wide range of treatments. CBD oil benefits are often touted for many conditions, both related and unrelated to diabetes:

  • Inflammation
  • Chronic pain
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disorders

CBD oil can be consumed in tablets, sublingual drops, on skin (transdermal) and more. Speak to a healthcare professional with CBD experience to figure out the correct dosage for your body.

CBD Side Effects

Side effects are a possibility with consumption of any substance, natural or otherwise. CBD oil can also interact with other drugs, so it is important to speak to your doctor before using CBD to treat symptoms of diabetes.

You may experience the following side effects when consuming CBD:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight or appetite changes
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth

Current Research on CBD Oil as a Treatment for Diabetes

Research on CBD and diabetes stretches beyond just blood sugar. There are many facets of diabetes that may benefit from CBD oil, from physical symptoms to depression. However, interesting diabetes-specific research has come to light.

Treating Diabetes-Related Inflammation

A 2019 study on diabetic rats showed improved memory performance and reduced inflammation after 30 daily doses of CBD at 10 mg. The study comes after a previous report that diabetes and aging work together to increase inflammation and memory loss in rats with cerebral hypoperfusion (i.e. weak blood flow to the brain).

An earlier study suggests that CBD may reduce early pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes. The study also cites previous evidence of cannabidiol lowering incidences of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice.

In addition, diabetic retinopathy, which causes blindness in adults, may be managed with cannabidiol. It’s possible that CBD acts as an antioxidant, inhibiting reuptake of adenosine and thereby reducing retinal inflammation. Further clinical studies are required to support this theory.

Treating Insulin Resistance

A double-blind study in animal models also found that subjects treated twice daily with 100 mg of CBD had lower concentrations of resistin. An increased level of resistin is connected with obesity and insulin resistance. The study implies that CBD may have some impact on insulin resistance.

Despite current research, there is no evidence that CBD can cure diabetes or regulate blood sugar in a way that replaces insulin treatments, statins and other anti-diabetic medications. Yet continued research gives new insight into CBD oil benefits for improving treatment outcomes.

Is CBD Oil Legal?

Currently, CBD is not legal on the federal level, but it may be legal in your state. With the legalization of hemp, however, the future looks bright for CBD. CBD will become more readily available, and this could be good news for diabetic individuals looking to experience the benefits of CBD oil.

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