As cannabidiol (CBD) products become increasingly mainstream, more people are using them to manage symptoms for chronic illnesses including diabetes. But how effective is CBD for managing symptoms of diabetes?
Diabetes affects a person’s ability to process and regulate their blood glucose levels. People with diabetes either don’t make enough insulin to regulate how much glucose enters the bloodstream or can not use the body’s insulin as well as they should. This causes a person’s ‘blood sugar’ to increase and can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and amputations.
There is currently little research on how CBD may impact diabetes. As such, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently regulate CBD products for the condition.
Nevertheless, some animal studies have been carried out to investigate the effects of CBD. A study from 2015 for example found that CBD reduced inflammation and neurotoxicity in rats with diabetes. The researchers thus said that CBD may be a promising candidate as an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective therapy against diabetic retinopathy, a vascular condition among those with diabetes that leads to blindness.
Meanwhile, a study from 2019 found that a 30-day CBD treatment improved memory performance and reduced nerve inflammation in rats with diabetes and chronic cerebral hypoperfusion, one of the causes of vascular dementia.
Regarding other aspects of diabetes, the ADA says that CBD does not have a noticeable effect on blood sugar or insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The organization also notes that while the compound is well tolerated by most, it can suppress the immune response, increase eye pressure (which may worsen glaucoma) and cause complications for those with cardiovascular conditions. As such, the organization recommends patients seek advice from their doctor before taking CBD products to manage their symptoms.