How Good is Cannabis for Diabetic Patients?

Cannabis for Diabetic Patients

You probably don’t have to look farther than your local drugstore or beauty product supplier to know CBD has taken a starring role in everything from sparkling water and gummies to tincture oils and lotions. Some may even say that cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid like THC, is a component of the cannabis plant, but doesn’t contain its psychoactive effects. Research is ongoing to see if it can help control blood sugar, calm inflammation, and ease nerve pain from diabetes.

Diabetes, which affects about 32 million Americans, is a chronic disorder that is associated with a defect in the production or sensitivity of insulin. Because the endocannabinoid system is involved in maintaining a state of homeostasis in the body, it can be interesting to know what role it plays in controlling diabetes and how much of this can be influenced by CBD. To establish this, it is critical to look at what research has to say.

You’ve probably also heard that CBD can help lessen stress, anxiety, and pain that when people are in pain, they have a stress response. This causes an increase in cortisol and an increase in blood sugar. Relieving pain can help alleviate the stress response and improve blood sugar levels, as well as aid sleep.

How Has Diabetes Affected the Nation

If you’re managing type 2 diabetes, it’s natural to be curious about whether CBD might help you manage those symptoms, too, to help stabilize your blood sugar. In fact, the prevalence of cannabis use increased by 340 percent among people with diabetes from 2005 to 2018, according to a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence in July 2020. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes differ in their origin and treatment, but they present the same problem. There is too much glucose circulating in the blood in both cases.

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. Research findings are mixed when it comes to whether CBD can have a positive effect on diabetes symptoms and complications.

Cannabis Usage for Diabetic Patients

Patients with type 2 diabetes use cannabis for nerve pain. Patients would use cannabis in a tincture or in oils that they rubbed on painful areas, including their feet. Patients could buy cannabis using a medical marijuana card, which would offer dosing instructions additional to what your cannabis doctor mentioned. Ultimately, though, people with type-2 diabetes reported that CBD reduced their nerve pain and improved their blood sugar. Those people who used CBD oils for nerve pain also reported sleeping better.

Early research suggests CBD and diabetes are indeed worth further study. A small study published in October of 2016 looked at 62 people with type 2 diabetes and found that CBD did not lower blood glucose. Participants were not on insulin, but some took other diabetes drugs.

About 95% of diabetics have type 2 diabetes which occurs when body cells become insensitive to insulin aka developing insulin resistance. This means that there is a high amount of sugar in circulation. When this persists for a prolonged duration it may cause significant inflammation which begins to damage blood vessels. The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD have been investigated for decades. A 2007 study titled “Cannabidiol” attenuates high glucose-induced endothelial cell inflammatory response and barrier disruption” is one that is of interest in diabetes control.

How Does Cannabis Help With Pain, Inflammation, and Preventing Diabetes

Research findings are mixed when it comes to whether marijuana can have a positive effect on diabetes symptoms and complications. Cannabis has been associated with improvements in the following:

Diabetes Prevention

There have been no clinical trials to test whether CBD oil consumption can actually lower the risk of developing diabetes in humans. However, a study in the journal Autoimmunity found that nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice had a substantially lower risk of developing diabetes if treated with CBD.

Inflammation

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.

Pain

A 2017 study of rats in the journal Pain found that CBD helped reduce inflammation and nerve pain associated with osteoarthritis. Another study showed CBD was effective in not just reducing, but also suppressing chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rodents.

Forms of Cannabidiol

CBD is available in many forms. If you’re considering taking CBD to help with your diabetes, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about what dosage and strength might be beneficial.

Some common forms of CBD are:

CBD Oil

CBD oil is a popular form of CBD. It mixes CBD extract into an oil like coconut oil, forming what’s known as a tincture. The tincture can be taken orally or applied to the body. Be sure that you know what concentration your CBD tincture is, and whether it’s safe to be taken orally.

Edibles

Like cannabis, CBD can be infused into edible products, including chocolate, gummy candy, and other candies and foods.

Capsules and Sprays

CBD can also be taken as a pill or an oral spray that is given under the tongue.

The form of CBD that you use will affect how quickly the substance enters your bloodstream. If you inhale/smoke it, the compound will start showing its effects quicker as compared to when used sublingually or when ingested.

The Bottom Line

Living with diabetes can be difficult, and it’s natural to want to seek out any and all treatment options that can make your life a bit more comfortable and healthful. While CBD could potentially have promise in controlling blood sugar levels and may even help prevent diabetes, the research is preliminary. Healthcare providers don’t fully understand the benefits or the drawbacks of CBD for most conditions, including diabetes.

If you’re considering using CBD and are diabetic, you should have an open and honest conversation with your healthcare provider. Your practitioner should be able to help weigh the benefits and risks of CBD and guide you on how to find high-quality CBD if you choose to take it.