CBD for Diabetes: Research, Benefits and Usage

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar is too high. Your blood sugar or blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps glucose from food to get to your cells to be used as energy. Sometimes, your body does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin well so the glucose stays in your blood and does not reach cells. Too much glucose in your blood can cause diabetes. Diabetes has no cure but there are ways to manage your diabetes and stay healthy.

CBD for Diabetes

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a compound extracted from the hemp plant. It is known to treat a wide variety of health issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, asthma, chronic pain, and epilepsy. CBD is also known to help control blood sugar, calm inflammation, and ease nerve pain from diabetes. Unlike THC, which is a psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis plants, CBD is not psychoactive and will not cause you to feel high. There is no correct dosing of CBD but it typically ranges from 5 mg to 25 mg, depending on your doctor’s suggestion. You should talk to your doctor first before taking CBD as it can cause side effects such as dry mouth, diarrhoea, and nausea.

What are the facts about CBD Effects on Diabetes?

CBD is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. The body’s endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating various processes such as pain, memory, mood, stress, immunity, sleep, and energy metabolism. Some research suggests that CBD is effective in reducing insulin resistance and moderating blood sugars on people with type 2 diabetes not taking insulin, which is the most common type of diabetes. CBD comes in many forms, from vapes to gummies, but the FDA does not regulate most f these products. The only FDA-approved form of CBD oil is Epidiolex, which is a prescription drug used to treat people with two types of epilepsy.

Is There Any Conclusive Research Showing the Effect of CBD on Diabetes?

According to Y. Tony Yang, MPH, a doctor of science in health policy and management and a professor at George Washington University of Nursing, studies on CBD’s effects on diabetes treatment are still lacking. Most studies about CBD on diabetes were done on animals due to the fact that medical marijuana and CBD products are not legalized in some places, and these findings don’t always apply to human health. In one study, researchers tested CBD on mice with less blood flow to the brain, which is a complication of diabetes for some people. They suggested that CBD cut down high blood sugar, lowered cholesterol, and upped the production of insulin. Another study was conducted by Veronica J. Brady, PhD, CDCES, a registered nurse and assistant professor at the Cizik School of Nursing at the University of Texas in Houston. She suggested that CBD helps relieve pain due to its anti-inflammatory effects, can alleviate stress response, and improve blood sugar levels. In October 2016, a small study was published in Diabetes Care in the UK. 62 people with type 2 diabetes were given CBD and found that did not lower blood glucose. They also mentioned that CBD containing small amounts of THC significantly improved blood glucose but not CBD. 

Do Doctors Recommend Using CBD for Diabetes?

Emily Kyle, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Holistic Cannabis Practitioner from New York City said that the use of CBD from diabetes depends on the type of diabetes that you have and the quality of the product used. She also said that there is a possibility that the endocannabinoid system buffers insulin sensitivity rather than inhibiting it. Rob Howe, a Texas-based former pro basketball player who is now a diabetes advocate was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teenager. He mentioned that he hasn’t seen any direct impact on his blood sugars as a result of taking CBD, but his mood, sleep, and overall well-being has improved. Although CBD is well tolerated by some people, there are still side effects. Aside from nausea, diarrhoea, and dry mouth, CBD can worsen glaucoma in some people, increase blood levels of certain medications such as blood thinners. Talk to your doctor first before using CBD.

Does the effect of CBD change according to Diabetes Types?

There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant). Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction that stops your body from making insulin. 5-10% of people who have diabetes have type 1. It’s usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to take insulin for the rest of your life. Type 2 diabetes is when your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep the blood sugar at normal levels. 90-95% of people who have diabetes have type 2. It is usually diagnosed in adults. Symptoms may not show so it’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you’re at risk. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by lifestyle changes such as losing weight and eating healthy. Gestational Diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes your baby could be at higher risk of health problems. This type of diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born but may increase your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. For people with type 1 diabetes, there is currently no clinical evidence that CBD has an impact on their blood glucose. However, CBD users with type 1 diabetes have reported varying glycemic impacts. For people with type 2 diabetes, some research says that subjects who received CBD at 100 mg twice daily saw significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose and improved pancreatic health. There’s currently no study on CBD for gestational diabetes.   

What Symptoms that are associated with Diabetes Does CBD Have an Effect on?

1. Oxidative Stress

2. Inflammation

3. Cell Death

4. Vascular Hyperpermeability

The American Journal of Pathology found that CBD was able to reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, cell death, and hyperpermeability associated with diabetes

1. Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between the production and accumulation of oxygen reactive species in cells and tissues and the ability of the biological system to detoxify these reactive products. An increase in blood sugar can increase oxidative stress which can worsen insulin action and secretion, accelerating the progression of type 2 diabetes. CBD protects the lipids and proteins against oxidative damage by modulating the level of oxidative stress which participates in cell signalling pathways. 

2. Inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s process of fighting against things that harm it including infections, injuries, toxins, in an attempt to heal itself. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body becomes sensitive to insulin and this resistance can lead to inflammation. Studies have suggested that CBD reduces levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibits T cell proliferation, induces T cell apoptosis and reduces migration adhesion of immune cells.

3. Cell Death

Cell death or apoptosis is when a biological cell ceases to carry out its functions. This happens when old cells die and are replaced by new ones but can also be caused by type 1 and type 2 diabetes. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and regulates the cell cycle and function of various immune cells.

4. Vascular Hyperpermeability

Vascular hyperpermeability is the excessive leakage of fluid and proteins from blood vessels. This commonly occurs in traumatic and ischemic injuries. Vascular hyperpermeability causes tissue vasogenic oedema which can lead to organ failure. CBD helps with vascular hyperpermeability as it offers protection against the vascular damage caused by a high glucose environment, inflammation, or type 2 diabetes.

Which Type of CBD Products are Good for Diabetes?

CBD is available in many forms. If you’re considering taking CBD to help with your diabetes, here are some of the best CBD products for diabetics.

  1. CBD oil. CBD oil is a popular form of CBD. It mixes CBD extract into coconut oil, forming a CBD tincture. CBD tincture can be taken orally or can be applied to the body. When using a tincture, put 2 to 3 drops of the CBD oil under your tongue and hold it there for at least 90 seconds before swallowing for maximum effect. Effects are usually felt within 15 minutes after use. 
  2. CBD edibles. CBD can be infused into edible products including chocolates, candies and other food. This is the most popular way of ingesting CBD because mixing it with food can mask its taste. Ingesting edibles usually take 30 to 45 minutes before you feel the effects as it needs to pass through your digestive tract.
  3. CBD capsules and sprays. CBD can also be taken as a pill or an oral spray. CBD capsules usually have their dosage on the packaging and usually take effect within 2 hours after taking. When using oral sprays, spray the product onto the inside of the cheek for quicker effects. Results of using CBD oral spray usually take effect 15 minutes after use. 

Can You Consume CBD Gummies for Diabetes?

Yes. Consuming CBD gummies are an easy and discreet way of taking CBD. Although they are not FDA-approved, people do not need a prescription to buy CBD gummies. Many people also prefer using CBD gummies as the taste of natural CBD oil can be quite off-putting. For diabetes, CBD can reduce insulin resistance and moderate blood sugar. The dosing of CBD gummies depends on the packaging but typically, 1 gummy has 5 mg of CBD.

What is the effect of THC in CBD on Diabetes?

THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive ingredient from cannabis plants that causes you to feel high. Like CBD, it’s available in oils, edibles, tinctures, and more. Both CBD and THC interact with your endocannabinoid system but they have different effects. The Diabetes Council has found that CBD can reduce the occurrence of diabetes, while CBD containing THC enzymes has been found to suppress the autoimmune response of the disease, reducing the amount of insulin needed during treatment. If using CBD products for diabetes treatment, you can choose a full-spectrum CBD as it contains up to 0.3 THC, which is more effective and it is federally legal. There’s also broad-spectrum CBD, which does not contain THC but contains other cannabis ingredients, and CBD isolates, which contains only CBD. Consult your doctor first before taking CBD.

What are the Precautions for People with Diabetes Looking to Try CBD?

Although CBD is well-tolerated by most people, there’s limited research on CBD and its effects on health. A study published in November 2017  by the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that only 30% of CBD products were labelled correctly. Some CBD products were under-labelled or over-labelled.  Some products also contain unlisted chemicals such as THC. CBD may also cause side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, and appetite loss. Aside from these side effects, CBD can also interact with other medications you might be taking. You should talk to your doctor first before taking CBD.  

What are the Other Diseases that CBD can help with?

CBD is known to help a wide variety of health issues. 

  • CBD for Asthma

For asthma, CBD acts as a bronchodilator and dilates a person’s respiratory airways. CBD may decrease your hyperresponsiveness in your respiratory airway by reducing sensitivity to triggers that cause asthma attacks.

  • CBD for Vertigo

Vertigo is a symptom and not a condition. When you have vertigo, you feel nauseous and dizzy. CBD helps treat vertigo by interacting with the serotonin system. CBD brings balance to our serotonin system which helps alleviate nausea.

  • CBD for Chronic Pain

CBD is known to have anti-inflammatory effects. CBD helps reduce pain by acting on different biological processes in our bodies. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system. This system is responsible for regulating mood, anxiety, and pain perception.

  • CBD for Anxiety and Depression

CBD is also known to help treat anxiety and depression in the same way. CBD alters a person’s serotonin levels. However, more human tests are needed to better understand how CBD works for anxiety and depression. 

  • CBD for Epilepsy

Studies have suggested that CBD can help treat epilepsy. There’s currently only one FDA approved CBD product in the market which is Epidolex. It is used to treat seizures and two rare and severe forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

  • CBD for Autism

Studies suggest that CBD can also help treat symptoms of autism as it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), serotonin receptors, and help alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and pain.