Medical scientists have been making great strides in diabetes research, and now their research focuses on Cannabidiol, one of the chemicals in cannabis, because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. At its core, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune cells mistakenly attack the pancreas, causing it to break down and stop working. Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been shown to support the immune system, calming it down so it stops attacking the body’s healthy cells. CBD also reduces inflammation in the pancreas, the immune system, and more.
The newest CBD research explores how this cannabinoid reduces inflammation in a new bodily system: the blood vessels. This is relevant to diabetes because these delicate tissues are damaged by high blood glucose levels. Let’s follow their research to see if there’s a new treatment that can help both Type 1 patients reduce complications and even prevent Type 2 from forming in pre-diabetic patients.
Cannabidiol & Diabetic Complications
Before we get into the exact way cannabidiol can prevent diabetic complications and even the disease itself, we need to look at how diabetes works.
What is Diabetes?
Like lupus or arthritis, diabetes is an autoimmune disease. Instead of attacking the joints and cartilage like arthritis, the immune system attacks the pancreas and other cells responsible for processing glucose in the body. This overactive immune system causes what’s called an inflammatory response, where the cells being attacked become flooded with white blood cells and fluids to fight the infection that’s not there.
Type 1, or “Child Onset” Diabetes
Doctors used to think that only Type 1 diabetes was an autoimmune disorder because it starts with an extreme inflammatory response in childhood. Sometime before or around puberty, the immune system attacks pancreatic cells until the pancreas stops producing insulin entirely. After this, the patient must check blood sugar levels frequently and adjust them with insulin supplements, whether delivered by injection, insulin pump, or some other method. That used to be the only treatment, but in recent years we’ve developed pharmaceutical treatments for type 1 diabetes. Pramlintide is one type 1 diabetes drug that mimics another hormone that works with insulin, but most oral drugs that work on Type 2 don’t work with Type 1 patients because their kidneys and livers are more prone to damage. The newest research into plant-based treatments for type 1 diabetes looks promising, however.
Type 2, or “Adult Onset” Diabetes
The second type of diabetes occurs later in life, as the pancreas weakens over time. Doctors used to believe that this was because a bad diet overworked the pancreas for years. Recently, however, scientists have discovered that Type 2 diabetes is also an autoimmune disease that simply works slower than Type 1, causing inflammation in the pancreas and related cells over time that eventually results in impaired pancreas function. This type of diabetes has been a little bit more responsive to pharmaceutical treatments because we can catch it early and the disease is slower acting. Many classes of drugs help the body keep blood sugar in control in Type 2 diabetes, but new treatments can possibly even stop it from happening.
Cannabidiol, Inflammation, and Diabetes
New CBD research looks into why cannabinoids, especially CBD, are anti-inflammatory, as well as how these anti-inflammatory properties work within the body. Scientists and patients suffering from autoimmune diseases are excited that CBD hemp oil could be a new treatment.
CBD Hemp Oil and Inflammation
First, we should explore how CBD reduces inflammation, because this property is very helpful in diabetes patients of both types. Medical scientists have already discovered that cannabidiol works with our body’s natural endocannabinoid system to keep our immune system in check, not letting it stop working but not letting it go crazy and create autoimmune disease. Inflammation is the result of an overactive immune system, so CBD has been shown to reduce it by acting not only in the immune system with CB2 receptors, but also in the tissues themselves as the CBD floats around the bloodstream.
Cannabidiol and Diabetes Complications
Medical scientists recently discovered that CBD can also affect certain cells in our blood vessels that can prevent the complications of diabetes in both types, but especially Type 1. Researchers stated that they discovered that the “nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to exert potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and has recently been reported to lower the incidence of diabetes in nonobese diabetic mice and to preserve the blood-retinal barrier in experimental diabetes.”
Why is this research important to diabetic patients?
Most people aren’t aware that many of the complications of diabetes are related in one very special way, and that’s what this study targeted. These complications include some symptoms that seem unrelated at first glance, like:
- Eye disease, or retinopathy
- Kidney stones and eventually kidney failure
- Impaired wound healing
- Loss of feeling in extremities
- Heart and blood problems such as hypertension
All of these symptoms have one common contributor: high levels of glucose (or blood sugar) in the bloodstream. Because the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to take care of all of it, glucose buildup causes hypertension and breakdown of blood vessels, tearing up the tiny cells on the inside of blood vessels that process all the chemicals in our blood. This happens in the eyes, the kidneys, the extremities, and in the heart.
CBD Hemp Oil Supplements for Diabetics
You can see how a supplement that can repair this circulatory system damage as well as reduce inflammation in the pancreas could be very helpful for diabetic patients. In plain English, these researchers found that CBD kept control mice from getting diabetes and kept the blood vessels intact in more severe diabetes. By supporting the pancreas, it helps repair damage there to make more insulin, as well as repairing the damage to blood vessels caused by high glucose. CBD hemp oil is an ideal plant-based supplemental treatment for autoimmune diseases like diabetes, and it can also relieve some symptoms of diabetes complications, such as nausea and loss of appetite.