The use of CBD oil as a treatment for diabetes — as well as epilepsy, anxiety, and a wide range of other health conditions — is showing promise, though research is still limited.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. The other major compound is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that produces a “high.” CBD has no such psychoactive properties.
Among the ongoing areas of research are whether CBD oil may help treat or even lower the risk of developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Animal and human studies have looked at CBD’s effects on levels of insulin, blood glucose (sugar), and inflammation, as well as complications of diabetes, such as the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy.
Read on to learn the results of these studies and how you might use CBD to potentially help prevent diabetes or alleviate some of its symptoms.
CBD oil may improve diabetes prevention, inflammation, and pain
|CBD associated with improvements||CBD not yet shown to be effective|
|diabetes prevention||HDL cholesterol levels|
|inflammation||blood glucose levels|
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes differ in their origin and treatment, but they present the same problem: too much glucose circulating in the blood.
Our bodies use the hormone insulin to help regulate blood glucose levels. When you eat, the pancreas produces insulin, which acts as a key, unlocking certain cells to allow glucose from the foods and beverages you consume to enter the cells to be used for energy later.
About 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1, which occurs when the body produces little or no insulin. This means glucose remains in the bloodstream, injuring blood vessels and depriving cells of fuel.
The vast majority of diabetes cases are
Research findings are mixed when it comes to whether CBD oil can have a positive effect on diabetes symptoms and complications. CBD has been associated with improvements in the following:
There have been no clinical trials to test whether CBD oil consumption can actual lower the risk of developing diabetes in humans.
However, a study in the journal
CBD has been studied as an anti-inflammatory treatment for several years.
In a study specifically looking at inflammation triggered by high glucose levels, researchers found that CBD had positive effects on several markers of inflammation.
This study suggests that CBD may be helpful in offsetting the damage diabetes can inflict on the walls of blood vessels.
A 2017 study of rats in the journal
Another study, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, showed CBD was effective in suppressing chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rodents.
There’s no evidence yet (although research is ongoing) that CBD oil is effective at improving HDL cholesterol levels or managing blood glucose.
In a small 2016 study in the journal
When it comes to potential diabetes treatments, the biggest concern is how it may help manage blood glucose levels.
At this point, there are no significant studies confirming CBD oil as a means of reducing high levels of blood sugar.
Other medications, such as metformin — together with a healthy diet and exercise — should be the main focus of your diabetes treatment and management. And if you need insulin, continue taking it as prescribed by your doctor.
CBD oil is produced by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and diluting it with a carrier oil, such as coconut or hemp seed oil.
The concentration of CBD oil varies from product to product, and there is little regulation of CBD products by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Forms of CBD
Forms of CBD that you can use to potentially relieve symptoms of diabetes include:
- Vaping. Inhaling vaporized CBD oil (with the use of vaping pens or e-cigarettes) is the fastest way to experience effects. Compounds are absorbed directly from the lungs into the bloodstream.
- Oils and tinctures. Oils placed (via eye dropper) under the tongue absorb quickly into the bloodstream. Drops can also be added to foods or beverages.
- Edibles. These gummy-like candies or chocolates are good options for those who have trouble swallowing pills. Time from ingestion to effect can take a while.
- Pills and capsules. CBD pills and capsules contain a version of an oil or tincture. The time from ingestion to effect can take a while.
- Skin creams and lotions. Topical CBD creams are often applied to the skin to ease muscle or joint pain. Most topicals don’t enter the bloodstream. Instead, they affect local cannabinoid receptors in the skin.
When starting any new drug or supplement, it’s usually best to start with a low dose. This way you can see how well you tolerate it and whether it’s effective at that dose.
An extensive review of CBD’s existing clinical data and animal studies reported that CBD is safe and has few, if any, side effects for adults.
Most common side effects are:
- changes in appetite
- changes in weight
Since CBD is often used in addition to other prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs, more research is needed to understand how the cannabinoid interacts with other meds.
Using CBD may increase or inhibit another drug’s effectiveness or side effects. Talking with a doctor or pharmacist can provide you more information about your particular risks.
Talk to a doctor
Until such time that it’s proven to be an effective treatment, use CBD oil with caution and with low expectations if you decide to try it.
If you’re concerned about whether it’s safe for you, talk with a healthcare provider. They can help you determine the proper dosage and form to try.
If you do try CBD oil, remember that it should be used as a complement to your normal diabetes treatment and not a replacement for proven therapy.
Early studies looking at CBD as a possible diabetes treatment have shown encouraging results. However, much of this research has been done on animals.
Larger studies, especially on humans with diabetes, or who are at risk of diabetes, need to be done. This will give healthcare providers a better understanding of how CBD oil may be used to treat, manage, or prevent diabetes.