Diabetes mellitus is a group of autoimmune diseases characterized by defects in insulin secretion or production resulting in hyperglycemia (an abnormally high concentration of glucose in the blood) – and it affects approximately 8.3% of the US population and 6.8% of Canadians. In 2007, diabetes contributed to over 200,000 deaths in the US alone.
Although the early development of insulin medications has made diabetes treatable, no cure exists, and symptoms tend to worsen as the disease progresses.
A growing body of evidence, however, points to medical marijuana as a promising therapy. In fact, research shows that marijuana – both CBD and THC – may not only be useful for managing the symptoms of pain and cardiovascular disease, but may also aid in combating the disease itself.
The two most common forms of diabetes are known as Type 1, or insulin dependent diabetes, and Type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in individuals under the age of 30 and involves an autoimmune attack on islet cells of the pancreas – cells that produce insulin. Approximately 10% of diabetics suffer from Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is far more common and tends to affect individuals that are obese and over the age of 40. It is usually a result of a combination of defective insulin production and insulin resistance.
In both types of diabetes, high blood sugar levels eventually lead to a variety of other metabolic and non-metabolic complications.
Endocannabinoids are natural compounds found within all humans that act in a similar way as plant-derived cannabinoids such as CBD. Along with cannabinoid receptors, they make up what is known as the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabinoid receptors have been identified in the pancreas, heart, blood vessels, nervous system, and many other organs – all of which suggests a potential role for cannabinoids in treating diabetes.
Interestingly, large-scale surveys have found lower prevalence rates of obesity and diabetes mellitus among marijuana users compared with non-users, further suggesting the potential for cannabinoids to affect this disorder.
Other studies have also identified higher endocannabinoid levels (anandamide and 2-AG) in diabetic patients compared to healthy individuals.
Studies involving human cell cultures have linked activation of CB1 receptors to an increase in insulin production. On the other hand, the role of CB2 receptors is conflicted, with some studies showing an increase in insulin secretion and others showing a decrease.
Preclinical and observational studies also indicate that cannabinoids may be inversely correlated with diabetes, may modify disease progression, and that they also may provide symptomatic relief to those suffering from it.
A study published in 2006, found that CBD could reduce the chance of developing type 1 diabetes in mice by reducing inflammation of pancreatic cells. In a study involving obese mice, THCV treatment (tetrahydrocannabivarin; another non-psychoactive ingredient) led to improved glucose tolerance, reduced glucose intolerance and increased insulin sensitivity, leading the authors to conclude that THCV could be a useful therapy for type 2 diabetes, either alone or together with CBD.
A 2006 study, published in the journal Autoimmunity, reported that injections of 5 mg per day of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD significantly reduced the incidence of diabetes in mice. Investigators reported that 86% of untreated control mice in the study developed diabetes. By contrast, only 30% of CBD-treated mice developed the disease.
In a separate experiment by this same research team, investigators reported that control mice all developed diabetes at a median of 17 weeks (range 15-20 weeks), while a majority (60 percent) of CBD-treated mice remained diabetes-free at 26 weeks.
Now, by no means is this a call to quit your insulin or other doctor prescribed treatments – we’re talking life and death here – but if you feel that your symptoms maybe aren’t managed quite as well as they used to be, consider adding CBD to the mix.
Whether it’s a daily supplement such as our great tasting cinnamon tincture to get directly to the source or maybe even some Casa Luna Sugar Free Chocolate Bars to snack on throughout the day, DiscoverCBD has got you covered.
Have a story to share? Questions about CBD? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll respond right away. In the meantime, sign up for our newsletters and visit our website DiscoverCBD.com regularly for the latest updates, research, legislation and other news about cannabidiol.
Written by Nate Hemmert