Diabetes is a medical condition in which blood sugar levels are abnormally high. In this condition, the body is not able to process glucose properly. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that helps in transporting the glucose inside our blood to the inside of our body cells and tissues. If the body isn’t able to produce enough insulin, then glucose stays in the blood raising the blood sugar level. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the person needs to take insulin every day to stay alive. The body may also develop an acquired sensitivity to insulin causing type II diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, eye problems, nerve damage, etc.
What is CBD?
CBD or Cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid present in the Cannabis plant. Researchers have found that CBD has a number of potential therapeutic benefits in various medical conditions including diabetes. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol does not have the psychoactive properties that THC has and doesn’t change the user’s state of mind causing a ‘high’ sensation. According to the 2018 report by the World Health Organization, CBD has no dependence potential and the use of pure CBD has not caused any human health-related problems to date. It is well known that patients suffering from anxiety and mood disorders can benefit from the use of CBD. New studies show that it can be modified to target different receptors which could help treat conditions like diabetes, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.
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How does CBD help with Diabetes?
Patients looking for relief from the symptoms of diabetes mellitus (DM) and its high-cost healthcare could benefit from CBD treatment in a near future.
Cannabidiol has anti-inflammatory properties which might be more effective than existing diabetes medications. In 2015, a study conducted on rats given CBD showed 30% less pancreatic inflammation. Chronic inflammation plays a key role in insulin resistance and causes type 2 diabetes. CBD oil could thus help reduce this inflammation and improve the body’s metabolism.
An important step in the treatment plan of people suffering from type 2 diabetes is weight loss. CBD can lower the risk of obesity and fix endocannabinoid imbalance which makes it harder to lose weight.
In a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, a total of 62 patients with type-2 DM were randomized to 5 treatment arms: CBD alone, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) alone, 1:1 ratio of CBD and THCV, 20:1 ratio of CBD and THCV, or matched placebo. The results showed that in comparison with placebo, THCV alone significantly reduced fasting plasma glucose, and improved pancreatic Beta-cell function (responsible for insulin production). Moreover, the combined therapy of CBD and THCV (1:1 ratio) managed to cause a profound decrease in glucose levels while increasing insulin levels from baseline, while CBD alone increased glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (beneficial in managing diabetes). Even though THCV showed more pronounced effects than other treatment arms, both treatments (CBD and THCV) are warranted further investigation as new therapeutic agents for glycemic control in patients with DM type-II.
The Diabetes Council conducted research on the effects of CBD therapy on people suffering from type 1 diabetes (T1D). They have found that CBD can lower the occurrence and delay the onset of diabetes. It can even reduce the amount of insulin required for treatment by suppressing the autoimmune response of diabetes.
In an experimental study conducted on non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice to investigate the effect of CBD on early pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes, mice were prophylactically administered daily 5 mg/kg CBD or control (no treatment). The results showed promising effects of CBD on markers of inflammation in the microcirculation of the pancreas, where non-treated NOD mice developed T1D earlier than CBD-treated mice. Also, CBD-treated mice showed significantly improved pancreatic microcirculation which plays an important role in developing diabetes.
In summary, CBD shows promising preclinical and clinical results in managing and treating both types of diabetes through its anti-inflammatory and its hypoglycemic properties.