CBD Oil for Diabetes: Benefits, Dosage, & Top Picks
Statistics regarding diabetes in the United States are alarming, with more than 100 million diabetes or prediabetes in 2017, as reported by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Diabetes is a serious disease. If neglected, it can wreak havoc on your health in many different areas, sometimes leading to such severe consequences as organ failure or death.
There are many ways to control the symptoms of diabetes or prevent its development, but what’s the link between CBD oil and diabetes?
Can CBD oil really help?
Current research, as well as individual testimonials, suggest that CBD may both relieve and prevent diabetes by engaging the endocannabinoid system through cannabinoid receptors in the body and brain.
In this article, I will cover:
- The best CBD brands on the market as of right now
- Basic information about diabetes and its collateral side effects
- The effects of CBD on diabetes (type 1 and type 2)
- How to use CBD oil for diabetes
How is that? Let’s go ahead and learn everything there is to know about CBD oil for diabetes.
Best CBD Oil Brands for Diabetes
While CBD oils are generally effective in the management of various symptoms, you shouldn’t just buy any CBD oil. There are tons of choices out there, and you have to be sure that the one you choose is made of high-quality ingredients.
With that, allow me to share with you my ranking of the best CBD oil brands on the market as of right now.
1. Royal CBD
Get 15% off all Royal CBD products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.
- Royal CBD uses American-grown, organic hemp
- The company uses full-spectrum CBD to make their oils
- The oil is available in four strengths: 250mg, 500mg, 1000mg, and 2500mg
- Royal CBD extracts are suspended in premium MCT oil for faster absorption
- Each batch of product has been tested in a 3rd-party laboratory for potency and safety
- Slightly more expensive than the other brands
My Thoughts on Royal CBD:
Royal CBD is a company specializing in manufacturing premium CBD oils — made from organically grown US hemp. Unlike many brands that try to make their name in the industry, this company is pretty simple. They offer CBD in basic formats, such as oils, capsules, gummies, and topicals.
Their CBD oil is available in four different potency options to address different dosage needs. They utilize a full-spectrum extract formula — which contains pure CBD along with other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, CBDA, CBC, and trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%).
Each batch of their product is tested in 3rd-party laboratories to make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies in the CBD potency and purity levels. The results are available on Royal CBD’s website.
2. Gold Bee
- Unique product selection
- Gold Bee uses non-GMO, Colorado-grown hemp
- The oil contains full-spectrum CBD
- The company’s products are extracted with CO2
- You’re getting up tp to 1200 mg of CBD per bottle
- The oil is sweetened with organic honey
- Third-party lab tested for potency and purity
- No high-strength oils
- Not available in-store
My Thoughts On Gold Bee:
Gold Bee is a brand established in California by a group of cannabis advocates with a professional background in the superfoods industry. The company combines organically grown hemp with honey from Brazillian rainforests. Gold Bee is actually one of the few brands whose products’ formulas include 100% organic ingredients.
The Gold Bee CBD oil is available in a 1200 mg concentration, providing 40 mg of full-spectrum CBD in each milliliter. It comes in two flavor options: natural and kiwi; the kiwi version contains natural flavorings and is sweetened with honey. On top of that, the oil has been infused with terpenes to boost the synergy between CBD and other compounds in hemp.
Gold Bee also offers other forms of CBD, such as capsules, gummies, and honey sticks. All these products are regularly tested in a third-party laboratory for potency and purity.
- CBDPure products are sourced from organic hemp
- Extracted with CO2
- Lab-tested for potency and purity
- 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed program (full refund within 90 days)
- Narrow product range
- The oil has a slightly lower strength than the competition
My Thoughts on CBDPure
CBDPure was founded in 2016 by Colorado natives, with a simple mission — to make high-quality CBD oils made from locally grown hemp. The company offers three different strengths of their CBD oil as well as easy-to-take softgel capsules.
While this is a very modest product range, CBDPure has perfected both of these products. These full-spectrum extracts are made with supercritical CO2 and tested in third-party laboratories for potency and purity.
When it comes to their CBD oil, it’s not as potent as the other brands in this ranking, but it does a decent job at alleviating mild symptoms or if you use CBD for the extra boost of your health. If you want something potent, you can go for their softgels — each capsule has 25mg of full-spectrum CBD.
If you’re not satisfied with your product, CBDPure has a 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed program. They will give you a full refund if you send your order back within 90 days.
4. Hemp Bombs
- This company uses certified organic hemp from European farms
- Their CBD isolate is extracted with CO2
- Extremely potent — up to 4000mg of CBD per bottle
- Extensive product range
- Odorless and flavorless
- All products are tested in 3rd-party laboratories for potency and purity
- This is a CBD isolate — you don’t get the synergy from other cannabinoids
- Most people don’t need such high doses of CBD
My Thoughts on Hemp Bombs:
Hemp Bombs is a great choice for people looking for high-quality CBD isolate and those who’d like to try different CBD formats. The company specializes in making isolate-based CBD products.
Their product lineup features traditional CBD options such as oil, capsules, vapes, and edibles, as well as less common products like CBD-infused beard lotion, tattoo ointment, or syrup.
Hemp Bombs gives you more affordable CBD extracts at the cost of some efficacy. Since this is 99% pure isolate, their products don’t offer the synergy from other cannabinoids. Thus, the effective dosage may be higher than with full-spectrum CBD.
Nevertheless, if you’re allergic to other ingredients than CBD in hemp products, or you must take periodic drug tests at work and can’t get a false positive for THC, this is the best company to buy isolate from.
- CBDistillery uses Colorado-grown hemp to make their extracts
- The company’s products are available as full-spectrum CBD or isolate
- Wide product range
- Each batch of product has been tested in a 3rd-party lab for quality
- Their CBD oil is very affordable
- Their hemp isn’t organic
- No flavored options available
My Thoughts on CBDistillery:
CBDistillery sells a wide range of CBD products, including CBD oil, capsules, and gummies — available as full-spectrum CBD or isolate (ZERO THC).
The company also has a very impressive potency range for their CBD oil, offering from 250–5000mg of CBD per bottle. Their products are good for people looking to buy inexpensive CBD oil without compromising its quality — the 250mg bottle costs only $20.
Although CBDistillery doesn’t use organic hemp in its extracts, the plants come from domestic growers and are processed with supercritical CO2 for maximum purity. On top of that, CBDistillery tests all its products in a certified laboratory for potency and potency, and safety.
6. NuLeaf Naturals
- The company uses organic hemp to make CBD oil
- These are full-spectrum extracts — you get the synergy from other cannabinoids
- NuLeaf products are tested for potency and safety in a 3rd-party lab
- Available in 5 different sizes — you can get yourself supplied for months to come
- Up to 4850mg of CBD per bottle
- NuLeaf sells only CBD oil for humans and pets
- No flavored options available
- Slightly more expensive than the market’s average
My Thoughts on NuLeaf Naturals:
NuLeaf Naturals has been selling whole-plant hemp extracts for over 5 years now. The company was established by entrepreneurs passionate about the benefits of plant-based supplements.
The company specializes in making clean, potent extracts for both humans and pets. NuLeaf sources its hemp from Colorado farmers who use organic practices for growing their plants.
NuLeaf Naturals may not offer the widest product range out there, but they make up for it with a multitude of different sizes to choose from. Their high-grade full-spectrum CBD oil is available from 240mg to 4500mg per bottle.
Choosing the largest option will get you supplied for months. However, the potency remains the same regardless of the size — offering 2.4 mg of CBD per drop.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar levels are too high. Blood sugar (glucose) is your primary source of energy and is sourced from the food you eat.
Insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas, helps transport glucose from food into your cells to be used for energy.
With chronically high blood sugar levels, your body can’t produce enough insulin to manage them efficiently, which leads to storing more glucose in the bloodstream. This, in turn, can trigger an array of health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, clogged arteries, mood swings, depression, and more.
Milder cases of diabetes are called “a touch of sugar” or “borderline diabetes,” but that doesn’t mean they should be neglected. In fact, every case of diabetes is serious.
Different Types of Diabetes
The two most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. There’s also gestational diabetes that can affect pregnant women.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that happens when your body doesn’t make insulin. This is caused by the immune system attacking and destroying the cells in your pancreas that are responsible for insulin production. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed very early — mostly in children — although it can also appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes have to rely on insulin injections to stay alive.
Type 2 Diabetes
If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or have problems using it to manage blood glucose levels. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even if you’re a child. However, this type of diabetes affects middle-aged and older adults — it’s also the most common form of this disease.
Gestational diabetes may develop in some women when they’re pregnant. Usually, this type of diabetes disappears once the baby is born. However, if you’ve had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, you’re more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Consequences of Neglected Diabetes
As mentioned, diabetes happens when you have notoriously high blood glucose levels. It can lead to several serious problems, including:
- Dental disease
- Eye problems
- Foot problems (restless leg syndrome)
- Heart disease
If you have type 2 diabetes, you can take specific steps to stop its development. Maintaining an active lifestyle, cutting down on sugars (and carbohydrates in general) while increasing the intake of healthy fatty acids, as well as reducing the amount of stress in your life can make a significant improvement in your health. The same conditions apply for preventing diabetes
Supplementation is part of everyday nutrition nowadays. We use supplements to level up nutritional deficiencies and bolster our immunity. As it turns out, supplementation with CBD oil may help you relieve symptoms of diabetes and also address the roots of the problem, including strengthening your immune system.
What Are the Effects of CBD on Diabetes?
CBD and diabetes can go hand in hand. Depending on the type of diabetes you have, CBD can potentially help mitigate or lessen some of the symptoms that make this disease particularly problematic to live with. Studies suggest that cannabinoids can also be used as diabetes prevention agents.
Here are just a few possible benefits of taking CBD oil for diabetes, both type 1 and type 2
1. Better Regulation of Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetes is a prevalent disease among obese people. The reason for this is due to how diabetes gets triggered in the first place.
When your body receives sugar, the pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels and enables the absorption of glucose into the cells to use it for energy.
Excess body fat causes the blood cells to be less sensitive to insulin. This compromises the body’s ability to absorb sugar and is officially referred to as insulin resistance.
When your body starts to store sugar instead of using it for energy, it’s a beeline to gaining extra pounds.
Therefore, if you want to prevent diabetes or reduce its symptoms, you must maintain a healthy weight.
According to recent studies, people who frequently use cannabis have a smaller waist circumference compared to non-users. They also have lower insulin resistance, which contributes to a speedier metabolism.
The reason for this may be the CBD’s ability to trigger the “fat browning” process. Fat browning turns the white fat cells — the ones you store as the excess body fat — to brown cells, which can be easily broken down and used for energy during activity and exercise.
While CBD isn’t an overnight fix to your problems with weight, adding this compound to exercising and a healthy diet may support these activities to make the whole process more effective.
2. Lower Insulin Resistance
When the cells in the human body turn down insulin, they are unable to facilitate glucose transportation to cell tissues.
It can result in a glucose buildup in the body, which leads to increased blood sugar levels. Ideally, the cells should be able to accept the insulin to use them for energy — in type 2 diabetes, and the body refuses to do this.
Some research indicates that CBD could be the key to improving the body’s efficiency in absorbing and using insulin.
A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Medicine featuring a sample of 4,657 adults (both men and women) found that cannabis users have a 16% faster insulin level and 17% lower insulin resistance level compared to non-users.
3. Reduced Inflammation of Pancreas
CBD produces anti-inflammatory effects that may help to mitigate some of the symptoms of diabetes — especially when it comes to delaying the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Experts argue that this disease develops after chronic inflammation of the cells in the pancreas responsible for insulin production.
Inflamed pancreas cells become damaged to the point they almost can’t produce insulin — it’s a signal that you’re developing type 1 diabetes.
Supplementing yourself with CBD may help you delay this process, especially among those who are more likely to suffer from the condition due to lifestyle factors or genetic predisposition.
4. Better Blood Circulation
Both sufferers of type 1 and type 2 diabetes should be particularly watchful when it comes to their blood pressure levels. The disease, along with obesity, often leads to hypertension.
This entails the risk of kidney disease, and in more severe cases, can result in blindness.
Research shows that CBD dilates the blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow. This ensures better control of the blood pressure. Scientists also suggest that over time, cannabinoids can help reduce blood pressure in healthy people, reducing the chances of developing hypertension.
CBD Oil Dosage for Diabetes
Frankly speaking, there aren’t definitive dosage guidelines when it comes to dosing CBD. The FDA doesn’t even have an official serving size for cannabidiol.
That’s because too many factors come into play when it comes to estimating the effective dose — it depends on your body weight, metabolism, lifestyle choices, the potency of your product, and whether or not you have used CBD oil before.
To begin with, I recommend choosing low dosages and then assessing the effects and adjusting the dosage as necessary.
Don’t worry. There are no known cases of CBD overdose. When you take too much CBD at a time, you may experience mild side effects such as dry mouth, dry eyes, or a drop in blood pressure to the point where you might feel sleepy and dizzy.
The majority of CBD oil users never take more than 25mg of CBD daily. Those with mild conditions take 40mg to 50mg of CBD a day. Severe cases call for taking 100mg to 150mg of CBD daily (up to 400 mg in epilepsy patients)
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best CBD Oil for Diabetes
Diabetes is a serious disease, and so are its complications. If you fail to take control of your blood sugar, you can end up with severe health consequences.
Numerous studies suggest that CBD has the potential to relieve and even lessen the symptoms of diabetes. Not only that, but CBD can also delay the onset of type 1, and prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
If you’re considering taking CBD oil to manage diabetes, speak to your doctor about your plans and be sure to discuss the CBD oil dosage for your symptoms. Remember that CBD may need some time to take effect, so stay patient and monitor the effects.
- Parray, H.A., Yun, J.W. (2016) Cannabidiol Promotes Browning in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 416(1–2), 131–139.
- Penner, E.A., Buettner, H., Mittleman, M.A. (2013). The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance Among US Adults. The Americal Journal of Medicine, 126(7), 583–589.
- Lehmann, C., Fisher, N.B., Tugwell, B., Szczesniak, A., Kelly, M., Zhou, J. (2016) Experimental Cannabidiol Treatment Reduces Early Pancreatic Inflammation in Type 1 Diabetes.
- Pacher, P., Bátkai, S., & Kunos, G. (2005). Cardiovascular Pharmacology of Cannabinoids. Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, (168), 599–625.
- Jadoon, K. A., Tan, G. D., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2017). A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. JCI insight, 2(12), e93760.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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CBD for Type 2 Diabetes: What Are the Benefits and Risks?
The trendy complementary treatment is rising in popularity. Here’s what you need to know before you use CBD to manage type 2 diabetes.
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) — which, like THC, is a component of the cannabis plant, but doesn’t contain its psychoactive effects — is the “it” ingredient of our age.
You’ve probably also heard that CBD can help lessen stress, anxiety, and pain. “When people are in pain, they have a stress response, which causes an increase in cortisol and an increase in blood sugar,” says Veronica J. Brady, PhD, CDCES, a registered nurse and an assistant professor at the Cizik School of Nursing at the University of Texas in Houston. Relieving pain can help alleviate the stress response and improve blood sugar levels, as well as aid sleep, she says.
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, which surveyed people on their use of cannabis (CBD or THC, in any form) in the previous 30 days.
But does it work for treating diabetes? Some healthcare professionals say CBD may have a role to play, but it's important to understand that the only health condition CBD has proved effective for is epilepsy in kids. The jury is unfortunately still out, owing to the lack of comprehensive research on CBD and type 2 diabetes.
Still, in the aforementioned survey, 78 percent of people used cannabis that was not prescribed by a doctor. “Diabetes patients might still use cannabis for medical reasons, but not have a prescription,” says Omayma Alshaarawy, MBBS, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at Michigan State University in East Lansing, who led the study. Recreational use is another factor. She points to a separate study, published September 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that found that more than 50 percent of people with medical conditions such as diabetes or cancer use cannabis recreationally.
How People With Type 2 Diabetes Are Using CBD
In Nevada, where Dr. Brady used to work as a certified diabetes educator, her patients with type 2 diabetes used CBD for nerve pain. She says patients would use CBD in a tincture or in oils that they rubbed on painful areas, including their feet. Patients could buy CBD at medical marijuana dispensaries, which would offer dosing instructions. "They worried about the impact on their blood sugars,” says Brady.
Ultimately, though, Brady says that her patients reported that CBD reduced their nerve pain and improved their blood sugar. She adds that those people who used CBD oils for nerve pain also reported sleeping better.
Heather Jackson, the founder and board president of Realm of Caring in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a nonprofit that focuses on cannabis research and education, senses an interest in CBD within the diabetes community. “In general, especially if they’re not well controlled, people are looking at cannabinoid therapy as an alternative, and usually as an adjunct option,” says Jackson. Callers have questions about CBD for neuropathy pain, joint pain, gastrointestinal issues, and occasionally blood glucose control, according to a spokesperson for Realm of Caring.
The organization receives thousands of inquiries about cannabis therapies a month. It keeps a registry of these callers, where they live, and their health conditions. Jackson says that people with type 2 diabetes are not a large percentage of the callers, but they currently have 540 people with diabetes in their database.
Jackson says that Realm of Caring does not offer medical advice, and it does not grow or sell cannabis. Instead, it offers education for clients and doctors about cannabis, based on its ever-growing registry of CBD users, their conditions, side effects, and administration regimen. “We are basically educating,” says Jackson. “We want you to talk to your doctor about the information you receive."
Scientific Studies on CBD and Type 2 Diabetes, and Barriers to Research
Despite interest among people with type 2 diabetes, large, rigorous studies showing how CBD may affect type 2 diabetes are lacking, says Y. Tony Yang, MPH, a doctor of science in health policy and management and a professor at George Washington University School of Nursing in Washington, DC. Specifically absent are randomized controlled trials, which are the gold standard of medical research.
Early research suggests CBD and diabetes are indeed worth further study. For example, a small study published in October 2016 in Diabetes Care in the United Kingdom 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. They were randomly assigned to five different treatment groups for 13 weeks: 100 milligrams (mg) of CBD twice daily; 5 mg of THCV (another chemical in cannabis) twice daily; 5 mg CBD and 5 mg THCV together twice daily; 100 mg CBD and 5 mg of THCV together twice daily; or placebo. In their paper, the authors reported that THCV (but not CBD) significantly improved blood glucose control.
Other CBD research is still evolving. Some CBD and diabetes studies have been done in rats, which leads to findings that don’t always apply to human health. Other studies have looked more generally at the body’s endocannabinoid system, which sends signals about pain, stress, sleep, and other important functions. Still other studies, including one published in the American Journal of Medicine, have looked at marijuana and diabetes, but not CBD specifically.
That there are so few studies of CBD in people with type 2 diabetes has to do with a lack of focus on CBD as an individual component. Historically, cannabinoids (a group of chemicals in the cannabis plant) have been lumped together, including CBD, THC, and more than 100 others. The 1970 U.S. Controlled Substances Act classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug with the highest restrictions. Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia allow cannabis for medical use and 11 states allow cannabis for recreational use.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the controlled substances list, clearing the way for more production and research of CBD. Meanwhile, growers and manufacturers are better able to isolate CBD, mainly by cultivating industrial hemp that is high in CBD and very low in THC, says Jackson. So, perhaps in the coming years, more research on CBD and diabetes will emerge.
How the FDA Views and Regulates CBD for Disease Treatment
Yet, as evidenced by the July 2020 study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, people with type 2 diabetes aren’t waiting for further study to hop on the trend. Brady says her patients have been open about using CBD, particularly the younger patients. She says one of her older patients was initially uncomfortable about buying CBD in the same shop that sold marijuana but eventually gave in. Brady adds that many people associate CBD with smoking marijuana, despite their distinctly different effects on the body.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first CBD medication in 2018, for treating childhood epilepsy. Currently, there is no other FDA-approved CBD medication for diabetes or any other condition, according to the FDA. In December 2018, the FDA said it was unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to sell food or dietary supplements containing CBD. In April 2019, the FDA stated that it would be taking new steps to evaluate cannabis products, and it held a public hearing about cannabis products in May 2019.
“The FDA, for the time being, has focused its limited enforcement resources on removing CBD products that make claims of curing or treating disease, leaving many CBD products for sale,” wrote Pieter Cohen, MD, and Joshua Sharfstein, MD, in a July 2019 perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Cohen is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and Dr. Sharfstein oversees the office of public health practice and training at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
Precautions for People With Diabetes Looking to Try CBD
For the CBD products already on the market, Jackson says it’s often difficult to know what’s inside. A study published November 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that only 30 percent of CBD products were accurately labeled, with under- and over-labeling of CBD content, and some products containing unlisted chemicals such as THC.
Vaping liquids were the most commonly mislabeled CBD products in the study. The International Research Center on Cannabis and Health in New York City warns that consumers should not purchase vape products from unregulated and illicit markets. A small investigation by the Associated Press in 2019 showed that some CBD vapes had synthetic marijuana.
Jackson points out that CBD may affect certain cholesterol and blood pressure drugs, and a study published in June 2017 in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research detailed these interactions. Other side effects of CBD include tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in weight or appetite, the researchers write.
“What you put in your body is really important,” says Jackson, adding that’s especially true for people with major health conditions like diabetes. Jackson speaks from personal experience as a mom finding CBD treatments for her son’s epilepsy. She says consumers should ask manufacturers whether CBD products are free of mold, pesticides, and other toxins.
Realm of Caring, Jackson’s nonprofit, created a reference sheet for evaluating products and manufacturers. It also endorses products that adhere to standards such as those from the American Herbal Products Association and the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations.
“There is little known about cannabis health effects, especially among patients with chronic conditions. Research is growing, but still solid evidence evolves,” says Dr. Alshaarawy. For these reasons, she recommends that patients talk to their doctors so they can discuss the benefits and potential harms of cannabis and monitor their health accordingly.
How to Talk to Your Healthcare Provider About Using CBD for Type 2 Diabetes
Jackson and Brady advise people who are considering CBD for diabetes to ask their providers about the complementary therapy before adding it to their treatment plan. Brady says it’s difficult to find research about CBD and type 2 diabetes, even in her capacity as a diabetes educator. Still, in her experience, if people are looking for a natural way to manage pain, it’s worth a conversation with their healthcare provider. “It’s something that should be talked about, especially if they’re having significant amounts of pain, or really any pain at all associated with their diabetes,” says Brady.
“It’s a reasonable alternative,” says Brady. “As it gains in popularity, there needs to be some information out there about it.
CBD for Diabetes
Kelly Burch is a freelance journalist who has covered health topics for more than 10 years. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.
Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles, California.
Nearly 10% of Americans have diabetes, and although lifestyle changes and medication generally help stabilize blood sugar levels, many Americans are considering the use of cannabidiol (CBD) as another option.
In fact, some research shows CBD might help control blood sugar, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost cardiovascular health, all of which are important for people with diabetes. Other studies indicate that CBD could possibly help prevent diabetes.
However, it has only been legal for scientists to conduct human trials with CBD since 2015, so the research is preliminary and there’s a lot still to be learned. Here’s what we know—and don’t know—about CBD and diabetes.
Tinnakorn Jorruang / EyeEm / Getty Images
What Is CBD?
CBD is the nonpsychoactive chemical compound in cannabis.
The Benefits of CBD for Diabetics
CBD can have a therapeutic effect on the brain without causing hallucinations or the psychoactivite effects that most people associate with the “high” from cannabis. Because of this, CBD has a lot of potential for therapeutic uses.
But before the scientific and medical communities can make definitive statements about the health benefits of CBD, they need more thorough and long-term research about the compound and how it affects the body and brain.
That said, there are indications that CBD has health benefits. For example:
- The endocannabinoid system, which regulates food intake and energy use, is often overactive in people who are overweight or who have type 2 diabetes.
- CBD acts on receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which is the root of many of its possible therapeutic applications.
Obesity and Insulin Resistance
Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, is closely linked with being overweight.
CBD and Weight Gain
CBD shows some promise in fighting weight gain and insulin resistance, both of which can increase the risk for diabetes.
A 2020 medical review found that CBD has the potential to affect a number of factors that contribute to the development of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. These include the potential to reduce inflammation and alter glucose metabolism.
In turn, that can reduce the symptoms of:
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes
Blood Sugar Control
When combined with a THC-based compound (the chief intoxicant in cannabis), CBD helped people with type 2 diabetes better control their blood sugar levels, according to a 2016 study that looked at blood sugar levels when fasting.
The study found that CBD alone:
- Decreased resistin: A hormone that can contribute to insulin resistance
- Increased glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide: A hormone that prompts the release of insulin
This indicates that CBD could help with some of the hormonal imbalances that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy, is a common complication from diabetes. Symptoms can include pain and burning sensations, especially in the hands and feet.
An animal study on rats found that CBD can increase the development of nerves and nervous tissue, possibly alleviating nerve pain.
Although the effect CBD has on nerve pain hasn’t been studied in humans, rodent studies are considered an important indicator of what might be found in human studies.
Anxiety and Stress Management
For some people with diabetes, managing the illness causes stress and anxiety. In turn, stress and anxiety can worsen the symptoms of diabetes.
Stress and Diabetes
When the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released, they prompt the body to release glucagon, which can cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
Managing anxiety and stress can have a positive impact on the physical symptoms of diabetes.
Research shows that CBD can help relieve the symptoms of anxiety. People who struggle to control their blood sugar levels due to the hormonal effects of stress and anxiety might be helped by CBD.
Other Conditions Related to Diabetes
Many people with diabetes have other health conditions as well, and CBD may help control the symptoms of those conditions. These include:
- Insomnia: CBD has been demonstrated to help treat insomnia, which is experienced by as many as half of the people with type 2 diabetes. Improving your sleep can help control your blood sugar levels, reducing the risk for complications from diabetes.
- Chronic pain and inflammation: CBD has been shown to effectively treat chronic pain and reduce inflammation, both of which can reduce the quality of life for people with diabetes and accompanying conditions.
- Blood pressure: CBD can reduce blood pressure and, in turn, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which people with diabetes are at increased risk for.
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.
How Quickly Does CBD Enter the Bloodstream?
Inhaled CBD enters the blood fastest, while edibles take longer to get into your system. It’s not clear how much CBD from topical products like creams and lotions gets into your bloodstream.
Side Effects of CBD
Because there is limited research on CBD, scientists don’t fully understand the side effects of the compound. However, it’s believed that using CBD can cause:
Research has found that, most often, the compound is generally well-tolerated.
CBD and Diarrhea
CBD can cause diarrhea, which many people with diabetes already struggle with. This is why it's important to speak with your healthcare provider about whether CBD might make the condition worse and what you can do if it does.
Finally, CBD can have interactions with over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs. It's important not to underestimate the risk of CBD, especially if you're taking other medications or supplements.
Interactions and Warnings
There are a few important things to consider when taking CBD.
CBD Is Not Regulated by the FDA
Because CBD is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is not a thorough understanding of its benefits and risks, which is information that would come from FDA testing and approval.
Some things to consider include:
- Dosage: Recommendations widely range and depend on the condition that you're using CBD to treat.
- Quality: Since CBD is not regulated, there’s no oversight of the quality and potency of the product. If you’re considering taking CBD, talk to your healthcare provider about where and how to obtain high-quality CBD products.
Even though it is a “natural” product, CBD can still interact with other medications. In fact, research indicates that cannabis-derived products, including CBD, can interact with 139 medication, and can be dangerous for people on 57 medications, including:
: Taking CBD along with this medication that is used to treat diabetes can increase the risk for diarrhea. : Taking CBD with this blood thinner can increase the amount of medication in your bloodstream, undermining the dosage that your healthcare provider has prescribed.
- OTC medications including Benedryl: This medication and CBD can cause drowsiness, so taking the medications together can amplify the effect. and other medications that are processed in the liver: Taking CBD could increase liver enzymes. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking CBD. Make sure you’re not taking it with other medications that stress the liver.
What to Look For
Since CBD is not regulated by the FDA, it can take some legwork to find a reputable source for CBD.
Remember that products advertised online aren’t always listed accurately.
One study found that only about one-third of CBD products sold online were labeled correctly and that more than 20% of the CBD products contained THC as well.
Legal THC Levels in CBD
If a CBD product contains more than 0.3% THC, it is illegal under federal law.
If you live in a state that has cannabis dispensaries, it may be worth buying CBD products in person. The people who work at dispensaries are generally knowledgeable about the effects of CBD and can guide you to a product that does not contain the psychoactive ingredient THC.
If you must order your CBD online, choose an American-made product, which offers a bit of peace of mind about manufacturing and production.
When selecting a CBD product, you’ll have to choose between:
- Full-spectrum: Contains mostly CBD, but also all the other chemical compounds found in cannabis, including THC
- Broad-spectrum: Contains some other cannabis compounds, but no THC
- Isolates: Contains only CBD
Do THC Levels in CBD Show Up on Drug Tests?
If you need to be drug-tested for work or other reasons, the THC present in full-spectrum CBD can show on a drug test.
Talk to your healthcare provider and be sure that you thoroughly understand the laws in your state, as well as policies from your employer when it comes to consuming even low levels of THC.
A Word From Verywell
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.