EducationThe benefits CBD may offer to diabetes patients

The benefits CBD may offer to diabetes patients

7 min read

Lucy MacKinnon

The benefits CBD may offer to diabetes patients


Cannabidiol, or CBD as it’s more commonly known, is a natural compound occurring in the Cannabis sativa plant. The plant contains two main cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Recent research has shown that CBD products (which can also contain up to 0.2% THC when sold over the counter) can have a number of health benefits and medicinal uses, such as the treatment of chronic pain, reducing anxiety and depression, and helping with addiction.

However, more caffecting a person’s blood glucose levels. While there is currently no cure for diabetes, it can usually be managed with medication such as insulin and alpha-glucosidase inhibitors.

Although not currently a recognised treatment for diabetes, new research is shining a light on the potential of medical cannabis, and in particular CBD, to help in the battle against it.

CBD and diabetes – the scientific benefits

CBD is the second most prevalent active ingredient in the cannabis plant. It is typically derived from the hemp plant, a close cousin of cannabis, and does not cause any kind of ‘high’, unlike the intoxicating THC. To date, there is no evidence of any abuse or dependence issues, or any other public health warning for pure CBD.

The potential health benefits of CBD have been anecdotally discussed for decades. However, recently, a succession of clinical trials have confirmed its potential medicinal qualities. It is particularly effective in treating certain forms of childhood epilepsy which do not respond to other anti-seizure medications. Other studies show its potential to treat a range of conditions, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Insomnia
  • Addiction

CBD comes in a number of forms for administration, including oil, extracts, capsules, and creams. It is a complex compound that interacts with various receptors in the body, many of which affect mood, immune response, pain and inflammation, appetite and more.

What does CBD do for diabetes? In 2021, a study showed that CBD could be an option for type 2 diabetes sufferers who cannot use standard management methods. Various other animal studies have also shown that CBD has the potential to treat certain symptoms of diabetes including retina inflammation and metabolic injury. One study on mice found that CBD reduced hyperglycemia, lowered cholesterol and increased insulin production – all vitally important for diabetics. Another found that CBD may even help to reduce the risk of diabetes in the first place.

CBD and managing diabetes symptoms

In your body, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) promotes homeostasis using cannabinoids. These are molecules created within the body that hold a very similar structure to the cannabinoids produced by cannabis plants. When you ingest CBD, it activates these receptors, although it has also been found to influence non-cannabinoid receptors too.

The endocannabinoid system is involved with a wide variety of processes in the body, including mood, appetite, stress, immune function, pain, and memory – amongst others. More importantly for diabetes, it has been shown to have the potential to regulate inflammation levels and oxidative stress. As diabetes is an inflammatory condition (and inflammation can encourage insulin resistance) this could be very important.

According to The American Journal of Pathology, “CBD was able to reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, cell death, and vascular hyperpermeability associated with diabetes,” also noting that “oxidative stress and inflammation play critical roles in the development of diabetes and its complications.”

In one study, subjects who received CBD at 100 mg twice a day saw a significant decrease in fasting plasma glucose and improved pancreatic health.

In order to see the best results from CBD for diabetes symptoms, it is best to go for a full-spectrum CBD option, as this may be most beneficial for inflammation and insulin resistance. As usual, always consult your doctor before trying any new treatment.

Diet and lifestyle changes in conjunction with CBD administration for diabetes

While there is no specific diet for diabetes, the foods you eat will make a big difference in how you manage your condition. No single food contains all the nutrients you need, so you need to get a balanced mix of the five main food groups: fruit and veg, starchy foods (like bread and pasta), protein, dairy and alternatives, and oils. Choosing whole-grain versions of starchy foods like bread and pasta is best, as this limits the amount of sugars you are taking in. Try to avoid fried foods, sugary foods and high levels of salt.

It may be important to stick to regular mealtimes so that you can regulate your blood sugars more effectively. And if you are overweight, then losing weight is highly recommended. Regular exercise is also very important for general health and well-being.

CBD in itself won’t help you to eat healthily and lose weight. But the associated benefits of CBD, such as potentially lowering levels of anxiety have been shown to assist in weight loss and increase motivation to exercise. It may also help to manage chronic pain, which may allow a greater degree of movement and flexibility.

Risks and side effects of taking CBD for diabetes

Although most people have no adverse reaction to CBD, there are some side effects. These can include suppressing immune responses, increasing eye pressure (which may adversely affect glaucoma sufferers) and increasing blood levels of certain medications.

It has also been the case that numerous CBD products have been mislabelled, and have even been found to contain unlisted chemicals such as THC. However, increased regulation of the industry is making these less common occurrences, and most CBD products from trusted suppliers will be accurate. Always consult your doctor before you start any form of CBD. The medical sector is subject to much more stringent regulatory oversight than the “over the counter” market, and so it is always best to access CBD products through your doctor or a pharmacy.

The potential benefits of CBD for diabetes sufferers are certainly worth further investigation. However, if you do decide to use it in conjunction with your existing treatments, then remember that there may be associated risks and side effects. Speak with your doctor before going ahead with any form of CBD therapy.

The legal and regulatory status of CBD for diabetes

In the UK, CBD products, including drops, sprays, supplements, and cosmetics, are all legal to buy and sell. However, they do need to meet strict regulations set by government and medical authorities. It must also adhere to strict levels of THC content, which is a controlled substance.

In Conclusion

Does CBD help with diabetes? Although research is ongoing, the initial outlook for CBD and diabetes symptomatic relief looks positive. Studies have shown that it may have the potential to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and it has established diet and weight loss potential that may be very beneficial to some diabetics.

Releaf understands the importance of medical cannabis in treating various medical conditions. With our tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection, you can access the treatment you need without worrying about the stigma.

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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With five years of journalism and healthcare content creation under her belt, Lucy strives to improve medical cannabis awareness and access in the UK by producing high quality, credible content.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

Further reading

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Medical cannabis on holiday: The basics

Here at Releaf we understand that holidays should be about relaxation, but travelling with medical cannabis sounds like a stressful voyage. We’re doing what we can to absorb that stress so that you can soak up the sun, and so, we’ve designed a series of articles to cover the subject: medical cannabis on holiday. 

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How long does it take to feel the effects of THC oil?

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Editorial Team