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CBD and Diabetes: Can CBD Help Me with My Diabetes?

By October 27, 2021 No Comments
CBD and Diabetes: Can CBD Help Manage Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, 10.5% of the population (34.2 million Americans) had diabetes in 2018. What’s more, about 7.3 million of those people were undiagnosed. With both type 1 and type 2 diabetes on the rise, what can you do to reduce your risk? Can superfoods and CBD benefit people with diabetes?

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar is too high.

Whenever you eat something, your body breaks that food down into components that it can use. The food you eat consists of three basic nutrients:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Protein
  3. Fat

During digestion, the acid in your stomach breaks down carbohydrates into a sugar called “glucose.” Glucose is your body’s preferred form of fuel—the gasoline in your engine, you could say.

The body needs help, though, actually using that fuel. That’s where the hormone insulin comes in. It ushers the glucose into your cells to help charge them up.

If you don’t have enough insulin—or if the cells in your body are resistant to insulin—the glucose (sugar) doesn’t get into the cells, and instead, remains in your blood.

Eventually, the amount of sugar in your blood will increase, giving you high blood sugar. And that’s not good.

How Diabetes Harms the Body

Without treatment, high blood sugar can wreak havoc in your body. Over time, it can increase your risk of several diseases, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, dental disease, nerve damage, and foot problems.

That’s because high blood sugar damages your blood vessels, making them stiff and narrowed. This impedes blood flow, leading to a reduced supply of oxygen and nutrients to certain parts of the body. It also makes the heart work harder to pump the blood, which is why diabetes can increase the risk of a heart attack.

To avoid these outcomes, people with diabetes must take medications to help manage their blood sugar levels. Keeping those levels down can help prevent these long-term complications.

The Rising Prevalence of Diabetes

The number of people with diabetes continues to grow, with 1.5 million Americans newly diagnosed with diabetes each year. From 2001 to 2017, the number of people living with type 2 diabetes increased by a shocking 95%. Youth diabetes is also surging. During that same time period, the number of people aged 20 and younger living with type 1 diabetes grew by 45%. According to a 2021 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), type 1 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes found in youth in the United States.

While type 1 diabetes is more common among white youth than among youth from racial or ethnic minority groups, the largest increases in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes were seen in Black or Hispanic youth, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC also points out that, “The highest number of youth per 1,000 living with type 2 diabetes were seen in youth who are Black or American Indian.”

Reversing the Trend with Superfoods

Superfoods are one way to reverse this alarming trend. Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, certain nuts and seeds, healthy oils, fish, and other foods that contain significant amounts of essential vitamins and minerals.

With more people trying to lead a healthier lifestyle and improve their diets, adding superfoods to a daily diet offers a number of benefits such as keeping blood sugar levels more stable and lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. Among those already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a diet rich in superfoods can help to delay or prevent diabetes complications, such as cardiovascular disease.

What About CBD and Diabetes?

What About CBD and Diabetes?

If you have diabetes—or know someone who does—you may have wondered if CBD (cannabidiol) could help.

There’s been a lot of hype about CBD oil and blood sugar lately. Some tout it as a miracle cure, while others use it to help improve overall well-being.

Here’s what we know so far.

CBD May Help Soothe Diabetic Neuropathy

If you’re interested in how CBD may affect diabetes, you’re not alone. According to a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, between 2005 and 2018, the prevalence of cannabis use among people with diabetes increased a startling 340 percent.

But what are people using CBD for?

You would think that it would be for lowering blood sugar levels, right? But most people turn to CBD for other reasons.

Diabetes can cause nerve pain, for instance, and CBD is well-known for its potential pain-relieving properties. In a 2012 study, for instance, researchers found that CBD was an “ideal therapeutic” in the treatment of inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

In a later 2020 study, scientists found that rubbing CBD oil into the skin helped provide significant improvement in nerve pain. It was so effective that the researchers suggested it may provide “a more effective alternative compared to other current therapies in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy.”

Other Ways CBD May Help Diabetic Patients

In addition to relieving nerve pain, CBD may provide other benefits to diabetics, such as protecting eye health.

Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the eye, causing retinal damage and vision loss. In a 2006 study, scientists gave animal subjects with diabetes CBD for 1, 2, or 4 weeks, and found that it helped protect the eyes, decreasing oxidative stress, protecting retinal cells, and preventing blood vessel damage.

CBD is well known for its potential ability to reduce inflammation too, which helps provide pain relief but may also protect the pancreas. Typically, the pancreas produces insulin, but in those with type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the pancreas, creating inflammation and reducing its ability to create insulin—which leads to high blood sugar.

In a 2016 animal study, researchers found that subjects given CBD showed reduced inflammation of the pancreas.

Diabetic patients suffering from diabetic fatigue may turn to CBD too. It may have calming effects and when used at night, may help diabetics get a better night’s sleep—so they awake with more energy. CBD interacts with certain brain receptors, which may improve mood and energy levels.

Finally, because of its potential anti-inflammatory effects, CBD may help protect blood vessels, which over time, could prevent heart disease. So far, though, a lot of these possibilities remain uncertain. We’ll know more as scientists continue to explore the properties of CBD.

Does CBD Lower Blood Sugar?

So far, we don’t have any human studies showing a direct effect on blood glucose levels. In one 2016 human study, scientists found that CBD did not help lower blood sugar. But other studies have shown conflicting results.

One animal study, for instance, suggested that CBD may have a preventative effect on diabetes. Subjects given a CBD treatment had a reduced risk of the disease, as well as a reduction in overall inflammation.

Other research suggests the endocannabinoid system in the body plays an important part in the regulation of blood sugar. Since CBD and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant interact with this system, it’s still possible that they may help improve how the body responds to insulin.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see what the research says. If you have diabetes and would like to try CBD, be sure to take these precautions:

  • Use only the highest quality products made by reputable companies.
  • Look for products that have been verified by third-party testing.
  • Stay away from added ingredients—stick with pure CBD.
  • Avoid CBD consumables with added sugars, artificial dyes, and flavorings. Use a quality CBD oil extract or concentrate.
  • Consider reaching out to a holistic cannabis practitioner for guidance.
  • Start with the lowest dose and adjust from there as needed.