Can You Use CBD for Diabetes? What the Science Says
According to the American Diabetes Association, 38.4 million Americans (11.6%) suffer from diabetes. This highly prevalent condition is largely associated with diet and can lead to serious breakdowns in the normal processes of the body. By the time diabetes is diagnosed, it is often too late to make any great improvements via diet, leading to increased interest in therapies that might reduce or even reverse the symptoms of this common disease.
In recent years, cannabidiol (CBD) has received increased attention as a potential therapy used in the context of both diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. Familiarize yourself with all the latest and most compelling research regarding CBD and diabetes in this comprehensive review.
CBD for Diabetes: Overview
1. A considerable amount of laboratory research has been conducted on CBD and diabetes
2. Most of this research has involved animal participants
In fact, no human trials of CBD have been conducted in the context of diabetes or diabetic neuropathy
3. Nevertheless, a considerable body of evidence has accumulated suggesting that CBD should be researched further as a potential diabetes therapy
4. Research indicates that CBD could be useful both in the prevention of diabetes and in the treatment of its symptoms, most notably diabetic neuropathy
5. Still, available data are not sufficient to establish concrete claims, driving a critical need for further studies
Most Recent Research on CBD for Diabetes
2021: Evaluation of cannabidiol’s inhibitory effect on alpha-glucosidase
Alpha-glucosidase is an enzyme that plays a role in type II diabetes. This study found that CBD “showed moderate inhibitory effect against yeast α-glucosidase activity,” indicating that this is an angle of research that should be expanded upon in future studies into the usefulness of CBD for type II diabetes mellitus.
2021: Anti-Inflammatory and Pro-Autophagy Effects of the Cannabinoid Receptor CB2Rr activation in the treatment of type I diabetes. Unlike CB1 receptors, which cause intoxication on activation, CB2 has an anti-inflammatory effect, which the researchers suspected could be useful in diabetes treatment. Throughout the comprehensive research review, the authors discuss the relationship between CB2 and the various mechanisms behind diabetes. Along the way, a case is established for diabetes treatment with CBD since CBD is a strong CB2 activator.
2019: Cannabidiol improves metabolic dysfunction in middle-aged diabetic rats submitted to a chronic cerebral hypoperfusion
This study looked specifically into the potential usefulness of CBD for cerebral ischemia, a common symptom of late-stage diabetes. In the group of rats that had been fed CBD, a “reduction of hyperglycemia and an increase of insulinemia” were observed, prompting the researchers to conclude that “ CBD may be used… against injuries from diabetes aggravated by cerebral ischemia.”
2019: Effects of Cannabidiol on Diabetes Outcomes and Chronic Cerebral Hypoperfusion Comorbidities in Middle-Aged Rats
In an effort to determine if CBD could help with diabetes-related cognitive decline, researchers performed an experiment on two groups of rats, one given CBD and the other given a placebo. The results of the study led the researchers to conclude that “the neuroprotective effects of CBD… are related to a reduction in neuroinflammation.” This research tentatively provides evidence that CBD might be able to help with diabetes-related inflammation in general.
CBD for Diabetes Human Trials
No human trials have been conducted regarding the potential usefulness of CBD for diabetes. We call upon the scientific community to acquire funding and pursue research along these lines. Given the amount of data accumulated on the subject so far, it appears CBD should at least be researched as a potential therapy in the mitigation of pain and discomfort in both diabetes mellitus and diabetic neuropathy.
Additional CBD Diabetes Studies
2005: Cannabidiol lowers incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice
As one of the first studies ever conducted on the subject, this piece of research provided initial evidence that CBD might be useful in preventing the onset of diabetes itself. While the results were highly preliminary, it’s worth noting that even back in 2005, researchers were already coming to realize that “CBD can inhibit and delay destructive insulitis and inflammatory Th1-associated cytokine production… resulting in a decreased incidence of diabetes.”
2011: Cannabinoids and endocannabinoids in metabolic disorders with focus on diabetes
This thorough review of the evidence available on the subject at the time begins by recognizing that CB1-activating cannabinoids like THC might have their own beneficial impact on metabolic disorders. It goes on to discuss the evidence that CBD might “be employed to retard β-cell damage in type 1 diabetes.”
Discussion: Should CBD Be Used for Diabetes?
In the discussion of diabetes mellitus and related disorders, it must first be understood that this condition can nearly be eliminated via purely preventative and environmental factors. In areas known as “food deserts,” a lack of high-quality sustenance leads to an inability to avoid diabetes-triggering diets, and many individuals are simply unaware of the direct causative effect diet has on the onset of diabetes.
Such considerations do nothing to alleviate the suffering of those who have already developed diabetes and concomitant conditions, however. In the instance of cases of diabetes that have already progressed beyond the repairing capacity of mere dietary changes, natural and safe therapies must be considered.
CBD is of especial note due to its incredibly wide range of action combined with its remarkable safety profile. The cannabinoid does not appear to have any considerable downsides at all, marking it as quite separate from THC, the cannabinoid traditionally considered for therapeutic use.
Even so, CBD appears to be of even more potential use against diabetes than THC. Its reported ability to reduce pain does not come with any unwanted intoxication, and CBD may act by various mechanisms to directly prevent and repair the most notorious symptoms of diabetes.
In short, CBD is entirely worthy of further study in the context of diabetes treatment. We strongly call on the scientific community to continue much-needed research into the usefulness of CBD for diabetes.
1. Ma, H., Li, H., Liu, C., & Seeram, N. P. (2021). Evaluation of cannabidiol’s inhibitory effect on alpha-glucosidase and its stability in simulated gastric and intestinal fluids. Journal of Cannabis Research, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-021-00077-x
2. Liu, Q., Aseer, K. R., Yao, Q., Zhong, X., Ghosh, P., O’Connell, J. F., & Egan, J. M. (2022). Anti-Inflammatory and Pro-Autophagy effects of the cannabinoid receptor CB2R: Possibility of modulation in Type 1 diabetes. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2021.809965
3. Zorzenon, M. R. T., Santiago, A. N., Mori, M., Piovan, S., Jansen, C. A., Padilha, M. E. P., Ciotta, S. R., De Freitas Mathias, P. C., Guimarães, F. S., De Oliveira, R. M. W., Milani, P. G., & Mareze-Costa, C. E. (2019). Cannabidiol improves metabolic dysfunction in middle-aged diabetic rats submitted to a chronic cerebral hypoperfusion. Chemico-Biological Interactions, 312, 108819. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbi.2019.108819
4. Santiago, A. N., Mori, M., Guimarães, F. S., Milani, H., & De Oliveira, R. M. W. (2018). Effects of cannabidiol on diabetes outcomes and chronic cerebral hypoperfusion comorbidities in Middle-Aged rats. Neurotoxicity Research, 35(2), 463–474. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12640-018-9972-5
5. Weiss, L., Zeira, M., Reich, S., Har-Noy, M., Mechoulam, R., Slavin, S., & Gallily, R. (2006). Cannabidiol lowers incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Autoimmunity, 39(2), 143–151. https://doi.org/10.1080/08916930500356674
6. Di Marzo, V., Piscitelli, F., & Mechoulam, R. (2011). Cannabinoids and Endocannabinoids in Metabolic Disorders with Focus on Diabetes. In Handbook of experimental pharmacology (pp. 75–104). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-17214-4_4