The two components of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have positive effects on the body. Both chemicals connect with our body’s endocannabinoid system and help supplement when we’re low on natural cannabinoids, as well as connecting with our immune, reproductive, and nerve systems. These two chemicals help regulate mood, appetite, sleep habits, and even inflammation. The major difference between these two chemicals is THC’s psychoactive qualities. The lack of these qualities makes CBD a better candidate for medicinal studies. Medical researchers are doing studies to see what all CBD can do for our bodies.
Cannabidiol has already been presented as a treatment option for anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and even arthritis. Only recently have scientists been looking into its interactions with the immune system and autoimmune diseases like diabetes. CBD has also been studied as a treatment program for diabetes, supplementing our body’s natural defenses. With type 2 diabetes, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties help combat the glucose disorder and improve the overall metabolism of the body. CBD is also being studied as a treatment option for inflammatory retinal diseases, specifically diabetic retinopathy. Let’s see how it all works to understand how this new, legal therapy can help those suffering from diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.
CBD Hemp Oil & Diabetic Retinopathy
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
People with diabetes have a high chance of losing their vision over time due to a disease called diabetic retinopathy, which involves sugar crystals in the blood damaging the small blood vessels in the eye. These delicate blood vessels can swell and start leaking because of inflammation, or they can constrict and stop blood from passing through because of scar tissue. In some cases, new blood vessels can grow inside the retina, causing blockage of blood and even nerves.
Diabetic retinopathy has two main stages, both of which involve damage to the eye, then inflammation, and then a disordered response of the body to the initial damage caused. This disease is classified in two stages, one an early stage where mild interventions like supplements and CBD hemp oil can be most effective, and the other an advanced stage where interventions like CBD oil are best used in addition to pharmaceuticals prescribed by a medical professional.
- Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) – NPDR is the early stage of this eye disease, and many people have this disease. With NPDR, you can either have macular edema or macular ischemia. Macular edema is when the tiny blood vessels in the eye leak and make the retina swell. Macular ischemia is the opposite problem, where the blood vessels in the eye are closing off and blood can’t reach the eye. NPDR causes blurry or distorted vision, and the patient may see shadows moving across their vision (often known as “floaters”).
- Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) – Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the advanced stage of diabetic eye disease, when the body responds to the damage in a way that causes even more damage. The retina starts growing new blood vessels, known as neovascularization, in the areas where there’s damage. These new blood vessels are very fragile and they can bleed into the body of the eye, causing even more inflammation and more immune response. As the cycle of inflammation, immune response, and tissue growth continues, bleeding and new veins can block all vision. First, floaters become more frequent, then vision narrows, shadows appear, and full loss of sight can occur because of scar tissue or misplaced growth.
Pharmaceutical treatments for diabetic retinopathy are slim, since steroids are unfortunately unhelpful, and to be most effective, most drugs need to be injected directly into the eye. There are also many known adverse effects, such as a raising of pressure in the eye, pain, and blurred vision. There are very few drugs in pill form, and those are listed for other conditions but sometimes prescribed, which is a dubious proposition.
CBD and Diabetic Retinopathy
Because cannabidiol acts as an anti-inflammatory, there is potential for a new CBD treatment to help with the neuroinflammation in diabetic retinopathy. This new study reviews the information on how cannabidiol can help with this common eye disease. Cannabidiol protects the eye in many different ways.
- Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant properties – There are many studies spanning decades that prove the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol, and these properties help calm responses to small tears in blood vessels, keeping the body from making that leap to a more serious form of the disease. Fighting it directly, CBD also acts as an antioxidant to neutralize superoxides that damage the eye. When there is a lack of oxygen, the body sets off a chain of events designed to help that end up hurting more and releasing toxic superoxides. Cannabidiol neutralizes these cells.
- Our Own Body Fights Back – Cannabidiol also prevents microglial cells from destroying nerve cells. When the superoxides are released and they start infecting the cells, they trigger the body’s microglial cells. Microglial cells eat dying nerve cells. Our bodies can produce cannabinoids to stop this process, but also sends out a signal to destroy the cannabinoids when there are too many. Cannabidiol supplements our endocannabinoid system, allowing our own cannabinoids to work with the supplement to keep the microglial cells in check.
Cannabidiol plays both sides. On the one side, it helps neutralize the superoxides to save neurons. On the other side, it gives our endocannabinoid system a boost with handling the microglial cells, calming our body’s natural immune response so it heals instead of making the problem worse.
Conclusion of Diabetic Retinopathy and CBD Hemp Oil
In some ways, Cannabidiol is like a miracle drug. With low side effects and the potential to help so many diseases and disorders, it’s the perfect supplement to other treatments. Cannabidiol supplements our body’s natural endocannabinoid system and can be given in large doses to no detriment. While the full extent of the benefits of cannabidiol are not completely known, studies show that it is an excellent route of treatment for diabetic retinopathy and other inflammatory retinal diseases. Cannabidiol is the ideal candidate for these treatments because it works both as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. This means it helps the body take care of metabolic waste in the form of free radicals, balancing out cells that need electrons. It also works as an anti-inflammatory drug by working closely with the CB2 receptors found in the body’s immune system to support and maintain homeostasis. CBD hemp oil can be as easy to work in as any other supplement, like B6 or Omega-3s