CBD, or cannabidiol, is increasingly touted as a miracle substance. And while clinical trials have shown the benefits of CBD for things like reducing seizures, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support many other common health claims.
So, what do we know about using CBD oil for diabetes?
About CBD Oil for Diabetes
Some diabetes patients claim that CBD can treat their diabetes symptoms by controlling high blood sugar.
Research investigating CBD for diabetes is in the early stages. So far, the results have been inconclusive.
Just the Facts
Anecdotal claims and preclinical studies indicate some promise for using CBD to prevent or treat diabetes. But we need to see a lot more research to understand whether it can really help.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how the body converts food into usable energy. There are three main varieties of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune reaction causes the body to attack its own cells in the pancreas. Ultimately, this results in the body reducing its natural production of insulin. This is the substance that allows cells to access blood sugar for energy.
Type 2 diabetes, which is much more prevalent than type 1, usually develops over a person’s lifetime. With type 2 diabetes, the body has trouble using insulin efficiently.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy in women who did not previously have diabetes. The pancreas does not produce enough insulin, causing a variety of health risks to both the mother and the baby. These can include high blood pressure during pregnancy and the increased likelihood of the baby developing diabetes later in life.
In the US, diabetes is currently the seventh leading cause of death. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. In addition, more than 84 million Americans are pre-diabetic, meaning they are on their way to developing type 2 diabetes.
There are no known cures for type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, can be largely prevented by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a substance that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant. Like THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, it is one of many compounds known as cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids interact with the human body by mimicking substances that the body produces naturally. Their close resemblance allows them to interact with a network of receptors found in the brain, organs, immune system, and other areas. This network is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
How Could CBD Oil Help with Diabetes?
Many researchers believe that the ECS promotes energy intake, impairs glucose metabolism, and affects the pancreas, which produces insulin.
The exact science of CBD’s effects on diabetes is not fully known, but it seems to involve the cannabinoid receptor CB1. This receptor has been shown to promote weight gain and increase insulin resistance when it is overactive. Because CBD can inhibit CB1 receptor activity, there is potential to mitigate diabetes development.
Sandra Abrams at the CBD brand CTFO has gotten feedback from customers about successfully using their products to treat their diabetes symptoms.
She has heard from people who struggled to lower their high blood glucose levels with medication for years, had trouble sleeping, and one who was even close to kidney failure, all who reported that CBD improved these conditions.
“It seems that many times when people try CBD for any condition, they have tried so many other regimens with minimal success,” Abrams said. “People have started to educate themselves on the power of the endocannabinoid system. We have had a rise of customers that are looking for better solutions on their health.”
CBD for Diabetes: Anecdotal Evidence
One of his relatives was 300 pounds, had a resting blood sugar level of 190, and was taking six different pharmaceuticals to treat his diabetes. That all changed after starting a diet program and taking CBD.
“Over about a month, his resting blood sugar had dropped to the 120s. As he maintained the levels in the 110s to 130s, we had him drop off all of his existing meds,” Tindall said. “After 42 days, it took him from about $2,000 worth of scripts to about $150 worth of CBD.”
While finding the correct CBD dose will differ for everyone, Tindall said their model uses 100mg per day. “It’s a pretty big dose. But when it’s that effective, typically reducing somebody by 40% in their resting blood sugar over a period of 21 days, that to me is a game changer for the diabetic population.”
Tindall also understands the concerns of physicians. “There was a lot of data supporting the medical use, but doctors always wanted to have an accurate dosing,” Tindall said. “They wanted to know that it was an exact measurement, it wasn’t just, ‘Go smoke two joints and call me in the morning.’”
Currently, Tindall’s company is conducting trials in the South Pacific to try to demonstrate on a large scale how CBD can help treat diabetes symptoms.
We’ve summarized a few of the animal and human studies that are relevant to using CBD for diabetes. Click on the items below to get more information.
2016: Clinical Trial of CBD and THCV for Type 2 Diabetes
In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers examined how people with type 2 diabetes respond to treatments of CBD and tetrahydrocannabivarin (or THCV, a cannabinoid related to THC).
Four groups of participants received one of the following treatments: only CBD, only THCV, a 1:1 ratio mixture of CBD and THCV, or a 20:1 ratio mixture of CBD and THCV. A fifth group did not receive any cannabinoid treatments.
Results showed that THCV improved pancreatic functioning, which is directly related to insulin production and diabetes.
The effects of CBD were minimal. But researchers did find that CBD reduced the concentration of resistin, a hormone that is associated with obesity and impaired insulin functions.
The combinations of CBD and THCV had no effect on insulin levels. The results suggest that combining CBD and THCV, at least at the ratios in this study, counteracts any benefits they may have on their own.
2013: Marijuana Use and Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance
In this study, researchers looked at information gathered between 2005-2010 by the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Researchers compared self-reports from adults who used recreational or medical marijuana to their insulin level measurements. They did this to see if people who reported that they either smoked marijuana frequently or had smoked it at some time in their life might have lower levels of fasting insulin.
Fasting insulin levels that are too low could be a sign that someone’s body isn’t producing enough insulin and has type 1 diabetes. But fasting levels that are too high could be a sign that someone’s body isn’t using insulin efficiently and has type 2 diabetes.
The study found that people who reported smoking marijuana within the last 30 days had lower levels of fasting insulin. Thus, they were at reduced risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
This study did not examine specific marijuana components, though. That means that it was not able to comment on any role CBD may have had in stabilizing insulin levels.
Researchers were only able to suggest that THC, CBD, or the combination of the two had an effect on insulin levels.
2006: Cannabidiol and diabetes in mice
This study, published in the journal Autoimmunity, examined CBD’s potential for preventing diabetes in mice. The study used mice who were obese and exhibited signs of insulitis, a condition that can destroy insulin-producing cells. These health conditions resemble prediabetes in the human body.
Some mice received daily CBD injections, while the control group did not get any treatment. Results showed that the incidence of developing diabetes, which was 86% in the untreated mice, dropped to 30% in the CBD-treated mice.
CBD interacted with cells in the pancreas to reduce insulitis. This research suggests that CBD can inhibit the cells that damage insulin-producing cells, and thus decrease the potential for developing diabetes.
Should You Try CBD Oil for Diabetes?
Most studies that look at CBD’s role in treating diabetes symptoms find that CBD has few, if any, negative side effects. While there is room for much more research, CBD does not seem to pose any specific risks to people with diabetes.
There are anecdotal claims that CBD can reduce some symptoms of diabetes. However, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to support those claims. More research will help us to understand and define exactly how (or whether) CBD can help.
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