Diabetes is a growing epidemic that affects more than 29 million Americans, of which some 200,000 are individuals below the age of 20. Each year, more than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with the disease, and it remains one of the leading causes of deaths in the country. Finding safe and effective treatments for diabetes is a much needed breakthrough. Researchers suggest that the cannabis compound, cannabidiol (CBD) can potentially provide therapeutic relief for individuals confronting diabetic complications. Experimenting with CBD as a viable treatment for diabetes and its symptoms could be transformative in the way the disease is treated.
Cannabidiol (CBD) Benefits
Research testing diabetic mice with CBD in both the early and latent stages of diabetes, paved the way for interest in CBD treatment of diabetes in humans. Studies have shown that pancreatic islets in CBD-treated mice were less damaged, leading to a reduction in insulitis-inflammation of the pancreatic islets. Studies of this nature have convinced researchers that CBD therapeutic treatment of type 1 and 2 diabetes is safe for humans.
It is believed that the development of insulin resistance is due in part to chronic inflammation, and some researchers suggest that the non-psychoactive compound Cannabidiol (CBD) has anti-inflammatory elements that could improve the body’s metabolism by diminishing the inflammation. A human study at Hebrew University of Jerusalem led researchers to conclude that it is highly likely that CBD can improve the function of the heart, cell growth, the immune system, and sugar metabolism. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, leader of the study, contends that unlike traditional diabetic medications such as insulin, CBD can be effective in suppressing, reversing, and even curing diabetes. There was a 58% decrease in type 1 diabetes insulin usage after CBD treatment, while CBD fostered lipid and glucose breakdown and a boost in insulin sensitivity. Source: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/news/2015/Apr/cbd-compound-in-cannabis-could-treat-diabetes,-researchers-suggest-95335970.html Furthermore, there is strong evidence to support claims that cannabis compounds such as CBD can remedy the manifestation of complications such as neuropathy, nephropathy, and retinopathy that are associated with diabetes.
According to a report by the National Diabetes Association, diabetic nephropathy is one of the leading causes of renal disease in the United States. Nephropathy is characterized by damaged blood vessels that cause urinary albumin excretion (useful protein leaks into the urine). CBD may play a role in controlling cell destruction, oxidative stress, and inflammation that can cause kidney damage. The cannabis plant hemp is rich in cannabidiol (CBD), and hemp oil treatment is reported as beneficial in improving inflammation and pain in patients suffering from diabetic nephropathy. CBD also has anti-oxidant properties which are vital in counteracting neurotoxicity and cellular breakdown.
The National Eye institute (NEI) contends that diabetic retinopathy is the most prevalent diabetic eye disease, and is the primary cause of vision loss facing adults in America today. Roughly 4% of adults age forty and older are affected by diabetic retinopathy and that number is expected to increase as the number of people with diabetes climb. When diabetic retinopathy emerges, it destroys the retinal cells over time resulting from oxidative and nitrative stress. Experimental studies have shown that cannabidiol is capable of reducing inflammation, cell dysfunction, and oxidative stress. Molecular biologist Dr. Gregory I. Liou uncovered that the cannabis compound CBD can hinder an excess of leaky eye blood vessels.
Nerve disorders associated with diabetes tend to primarily affect the hands and feet. Tingling, numbness, and pain often accompany nerve damage in patients. While diabetic neuropathy is tough to treat, cannabidiol offers promise as a treatment option for the diabetic complication. British BW Pharmaceuticals conducted a 2009 trial of their cannabis product Sativex, a cannabis extract spray that has an equal ratio of THC to CBD, and is developed to treat the symptoms of diabetic induced peripheral neuropathy. While pain reduction was improved in a significant portion of the participants who were administered Sativex, the placebo recorded similar results as well, which limits the reliability of the study.
Cannabidiol still has a long way to go as a treatment for diabetes. Strong federal marijuana laws in the U.S. impede research on marijuana for medical purposes, and while useful, limited observational and clinical studies are insufficient to arrive at an a CBD medication that could effectively treat and prevent diabetes. While medical marijuana is permitted with a doctor’s recommendation in states such as California, Nevada, and Connecticut, among others, there are no laws that specifically allow cannabis treatment of diabetes. Until marijuana is no longer a Schedule 1 drug, progress into the study of diabetes and CBD will remain slow.