Cannabidiol or CBD oil is extracted from industrial hemp plants and offers several benefits for people with diabetes. Researchers have discovered that overactivity in the body’s own endocannabinoid system may play a role in the development and progression of diabetes and diabetic complications through effects on appetite, metabolism, oxidative stress and inflammation – especially of the pancreatic islet cells which secrete insulin. Raised glucose levels, in turn, appear to over stimulate the endocannabinoid system resulting in a vicious cycle of worsening glucose control and the development of diabetic complications.
CBD oil interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a beneficial way by inhibiting overactivity of a type of endocannabinoid receptor called CB1. This inhibition appears to suppress inflammation, reduce pain perception and protect pancreatic cells that secrete insulin, reduce blood vessel damage all of which have positive effects against diabetes and diabetes complications. Although much of the research is preclinical (involving animal and cell studies) there is growing evidence that cannabidiol offers benefits for people with diabetes.
Caution: CBD oil interacts with many prescribed drugs to slow their breakdown and increase their levels. This may increase the risk of side effects. Check with a doctor or pharmacist before taking CBD oil if you are on any prescribed medication. This is the CBD supplement I take (Disclaimer: I act as a consultant to Healthspan) but you can also get good quality pharmaceutical products from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
CBD oil improves glucose control
Cell studies suggest that some pancreatic cells express cannabinoid receptors, and that these may be involved in natural insulin synthesis and release, although the exact way in which CBD oil may affect pancreatic function in diabetes is not yet clear. There are suggestions that cannabidiol may even be a promising new approach to target autoimmune (type 1) diabetes and protect pancreatic beta-cells from damage in the early stages of the disease, but this is far from proven. Over activity in the endocannabinoid system may also promote the development of type 2 diabetes by inducing the programmed death (apoptosis) of pancreatic beta cells. Preclinical research involving CB1 receptor antagonist drugs has found they delay the progression of type 2 diabetes and loss of beta cells. CBD has also been found to lower the risk of developing diabetes in non-obese mice who are genetically prone to diabetes,
CBD blocks an enzyme involved in diabetic complications
When glucose levels are raised inside body cells, excess glucose is converted to a damaging substance called sorbitol which is associated with many of the complications of diabetes including cataracts. This conversion is triggered by an enzyme called aldose reductase, and the search is on for new aldose reductase inhibitors to help prevent diabetes complications. Cannabidiol CBD oil appears to inhibit aldose reductase activity by more than 70%.
CBD oil may protect against cardiovascular complications
The endocannabinoid system appears to play a role in inflammation within artery walls and the development of atherosclerosis (hardening and furring up of the arteries). By blocking CB1 receptors, CBD oil helps to relax blood vessels and improve their elasticity to lower blood pressure. Cannabidiol is also a powerful antioxidant, and helps to reduce inflammation and platelet aggregation to protect against atherosclerosis.
Cannabinoid receptors are found in heart muscle cells, and cannabinoids such as CBD, which block these receptors, may help to protect the heart during times of stress such as when blood supply is compromised.
Research already suggests that cannabidiol improves the action of heart cell mitochondria (battery-like units which generate energy for heart contraction) and even increases their numbers, when heart cells received too little blood and oxygen.
CBD was found to significantly improve heart cell function, reduce fibrosis (formation of scar tissue) and protect heart cells from premature death. The researchers concluded that these results, together with the ‘excellent safety and tolerability’ of CBD strongly suggests that it may have great therapeutic potential in treating diabetic complications.
CBD oil may protect against diabetic kidney disease
Diabetes is one of the main causes of kidney failure, and may be associated with overactivity of cannabinoid receptors. CBD oil blocks CB1 receptors, and cell studies suggest this effect can reduce damage caused by high glucose concentrations in kidney cells.
CBD oil may protect against diabetic eye disease
Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness due to damage to the light-sensitive retina (diabetic retinopathy). Endocannabinoid receptors are present in the eye, and their levels are increased in people with diabetic eye disease. Blocking CB1 receptors can prevent retinal cell damage, and may help to prevent diabetic retinopathy.
CBD oil may protect against diabetic nerve disease
Persistently raised glucose levels can damage nerves, leading to burning or stabbing pain, electric sensations, numbness and other sensory problems. Known as diabetic neuropathy, these symptoms eventually affect as many as two out of three people with diabetes. CB1 receptors are found throughout the nervous system and it has been suggests that blocking this receptor may halt the progression of diabetic neuropathy, although this has not yet been proven in clinical trials.
CBD oil may reduce insulin resistance and obesity
Abnormalities in the endocannabinoid system are increasingly recognised as a root cause of obesity and insulin resistance. Overactivity of CB1 receptors in the brain increases appetite and food intake, for example, while blocking these receptors can increase satiety and reduce food cravings. CB1 receptors in the liver and fat cells also appear to activate the synthesis and storage of fatty acids. CB1 receptors also seem to be involved in storing fat around the waist. By blocking CB1 receptors, CBD oil may help to support weight loss as well as improving insulin resistance, although this is still under investigation.
Check for interactions
This is so important, I’ll repeat it again: please check for interactions before taking CBD oil if you are taking any prescribed medicines. How to check for drug-supplement interactions is described HERE.