Diabetes is a prevalent and unpleasant disease when you do not seek care early enough or stay compliant with treatment. It affects a lot of people globally and has no cure. It can only be managed with medications and lifestyle modifications.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a promising compound derived from the Hemp plant. However because of the required low 0.02% THC content in CBD it is not psychoactive, so it cannot get you high. Many people have made a lot of claims about the effectiveness of CBD in managing diabetes, so you also might be wondering if CBD could help with diabetes. This article discusses diabetes and the potential role of CBD in treating it.
What is Diabetes and What Causes It?
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the body cannot effectively take care of the blood glucose/sugar. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It is responsible for taking care of your blood sugar. Diabetes arises when problems arise with the production and release of insulin from your pancreas, or your body is not responding to it.
Insulin is produced and secreted by the beta islet cells of your pancreas. Lack of insulin or insulin resistance leads to the buildup of glucose/sugar in the blood. This is not a good thing, as glucose buildup causes a lot of health problems.
There are many types and subtypes of diabetes. But you can classify them into three major types.
1. Type 1 Diabetes
This type of diabetes is due to an autoimmune response. The immune system is responsible for defending the body against infections and foreign bodies. Sometimes, this system fails and starts attacking normal cells. In this case, it attacks and destroys the beta cells that secrete insulin.
Type 1 diabetes is more commonly seen in younger persons. So far, we have not been able to identify what causes the immune system to turn on itself. But the damage is irreversible and leads to insulin deficiency.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
This one is due to insulin resistance. There is no problem with insulin production and secretion. But for some reason, your body just does not respond to the insulin. Sugar continues to buildup in the blood. Unfortunately, the body pushes your pancreas to produce more insulin to keep up. Eventually, the pancreas will not be able to produce enough insulin. So, secretion starts dropping.
3. Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes found only in pregnancy. During pregnancy, some hormones impede the action of insulin. It usually starts around the third trimester in someone that does not have a history of diabetes. However, your blood sugar should fall back to normal six weeks after delivery as the hormones subside.
What are the symptoms you see in Diabetes?
A very good number of people with diabetes don't even know they have the condition. Diabetes could be very sneaky, existing for a long time, and not showing any obvious symptoms. When one eventually suspects, it might be a little late. This is why many people get their diabetes diagnoses during a random medical checkup.
However, diabetes is also so bad it can affect almost every organ system in the body. The general symptoms of diabetes are polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia with weight loss. These mean frequent urination, excessive thirst, and excessive appetite with weight loss.
Other symptoms that you may observe are:
- Drowsiness and easy tiredness
- Dark, dry skin
- Slow wound healing
- Recurrent infections
If the problem is not well managed, there could be:
- Nerve problems (neuropathy)
- Eye problems (retinopathy)
- Kidney problems (nephropathy)
- A cerebrovascular disease that may cause a stroke or heart attack
Gestational diabetes could lead to preeclampsia, miscarriage/stillbirth, birth deformities, etc.
How do you treat Diabetes?
Managing diabetes is a lifelong struggle involving physicians, regular tests, lifestyle modifications, and medications. A sedentary lifestyle and obesity are significant contributors to the problem. As soon as your doctor diagnosis Type 2 diabetes, they would recommend dietary adjustments and physical exercise.
There are a lot of medications available for managing diabetes, depending on the type. Remember that in type 1 diabetes, the body is not producing enough insulin. So, insulin will be prescribed if you are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Some people with type 2 and gestational diabetes might also have to use insulin if the pancreas is overworked.
Other medications are biguanide (metformin), deglutide, glyburide, acarbose, and the list goes on.
How Does CBD Help with Diabetes?
There are two types of Cannabinoid receptors - CB1 and CB2. They are found in many parts of the body. These receptors affect memory, fertility, coordination and movement, mood, appetite, immune response, etc.
CBD comes in various formulations – oil, vape, gummies, tablets, etc. Although it is generally considered safe, there might be side effects like dry mouth, tiredness, headaches, but complaints are rare. There is still a lot we do not know about CBD, but then again its popularity continues to grow rapidly because of the help it seems to provide in treating many different health conditions.
Some studies have shown CBD might help you with diabetes. It is definitely not a cure but might help alleviate some of the symptoms, depending on the diabetes type. In fact, it is suggested that the compound might also prevent diabetes by reducing oxidative stress.
As we have said earlier, Type 1 diabetes arises from auto-immunity – your body's defense system is turning against itself. Inflammation is part of an essential part of immune responses. CBD could be helpful in Type 1 diabetes as an anti-inflammatory. The compound influences white blood cells like microglia and macrophages, which are involved in inflammation.
A 2016 study from the University of Nottingham checked the effectiveness of CBD in managing Type 2 diabetes in animals. They found out that CBD, alongside another Cannabinoid, helps control the subjects' blood glucose level. It also stimulated the pancreas to produce more insulin.
Neuropathy (nerve problems) is one of the complications of diabetes. It leads to numbness, tingling sensations, and pain. CBD can relieve these symptoms by influencing the CB2 receptors on the nerves.
Diabetes is a very dangerous disease with life-threatening complications if you do not handle it well. Unfortunately, many people will only find out incidentally. It is essential to go for regular screening.
CBD is not a cure for diabetes. It also should not serve as a replacement for medical care. However, it could help with some of the symptoms. It could help improve your pancreas' health, regulate blood glucose, reduce inflammation, and ease the pain. If you choose to use CBD alongside your medications, do consult your doctor.