CBD and Diabetes

You may have heard about using CBD to treat diabetes. CBD is short for cannabidiol, and it comes from the cannabis plant. It doesn’t make you feel high, but research is ongoing to see if it can help control blood sugar, calm inflammation, and ease nerve pain from diabetes.

What the Research Shows

Most studies of CBD’s effects on diabetes have been in mice or rats. This is a problem because laboratory conditions, differences between animals and humans, and other things can affect study results. Just because CBD works for them doesn’t mean it will work in humans.

In one study, researchers tested CBD on mice with less blood flow to the brain, a complication of diabetes for some people. They found that CBD:

Other studies of CBD in mice or rats found it:

  • Eases swelling and pain from nerve damage. One study showed CBD kept chronic inflammation and neuropathic pain at bay, which tends to affect the hands and feet of people with diabetes.
  • Lowers the risk of diabetes. Another study found CBD might ward off the disease.
  • Promotes “good fat.” CBD oil can help the body turn white fat into slimming brown fat. This can boost your body's ability to use glucose.

THC and Diabetes

The effects of CBD and THC (the chemical in cannabis that causes a high) are different. In one study, CBD didn’t improve blood sugar and lipid levels in people with type 2 diabetes, but a variation of THC did. CBD did lower insulin resistance and boost gut hormone levels.

Use Caution

CBD comes in many forms, from liquid drops to capsules to vapes. But the FDA doesn’t regulate most of those products. The only FDA-approved form of CBD oil is Epidiolex, a prescription drug that treats two types of epilepsy. So it’s hard to be sure that other CBD products are what they say they are, even if the label looks official. For instance, THC has been found in some CBD products. There’s also no guarantee the product has as much CBD as the label says. CBD can also have side effects. It may cause:

It can also interact with other medications like blood thinners. So it’s important to talk with your doctor before trying CBD.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on October 31, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

FDA: “FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived From Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy.”

Mayo Clinic: “Consumer Health: What Are the Benefits of CBD — And is it Safe to Use?” “Diabetic Neuropathy.”

Diabetes Care: “Efficacy and safety of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabivarin on glycemic and lipid parameters in patients with Type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group pilot study.”

Chemico-Biological Interactions: “Cannabidiol improves metabolic dysfunction in middle-aged diabetic rats submitted to a chronic cerebral hypoperfusion.”

Journal of Experimental Medicine: “Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors.”

Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry: “Cannabidiol promotes browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.”

The American Journal of Pathology: “The endocannabinoid system and plant-derived cannabinoids in diabetes and diabetic complications.”

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics: “The Flaws and Human Harms of Animal Experimentation.”

Autoimmunity: “Cannabidiol lowers incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t.”

CDC: “Diabetes.”

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