With CBD use on the rise, many doctors are questioning whether they should prescribe the plant compound for diabetes to help patients cope with the symptoms and even fight the disease itself.
Dr. Allan Frankel, an M.D. with Greenbridge Medical, wrote on OCCNewspaper recently about the experiences and successes he’s had treating his diabetes patients with CBD oil, concluding that it can help with both the treatment of the disease itself, as well as aiding the day to day management of diabetes related symptoms like inflammation and joint pain.
“For certain, it is worth a try.”
CBD Oil For Diabetes: What Do Patients Say?
We spoke to Pete Jarlett, a diabetes patient, to get a personal view on how CBD oil for diabetes can be beneficial. He has been treating his diabetes with a combination of a Ketogenic diet (healthy fats) and CBD oil, on the advice of Dr. Joseph McCall and HoneyColony cofounder Maryam Henein.
“Overall, I feel a million times better, but everyone has to make their own decision. I feel strong and I’m getting my energy back.”
Jarlett even enjoys cooking with CBD oil although temperature is important to consider to not destroy the healing properties.
“You can even elevate the CBD oil at the pinnacle with other oils. Once you can work it into your diet it can be so easy.”
Diabetes: Relentless Rise
Diabetes refers to the group of metabolic disorders characterized by high blood glucose levels; almost 400 million people worldwide suffer from either type one or type two diabetes and it kills up to 5 million people every year. Type one diabetes is caused by an autoimmune attack on the islet cells in the pancreas (which produce insulin), while type two diabetes develops as a result of defective insulin production and insulin resistance.
Diabetes rates are on the rise, due in part to the high levels of sugar consumption in today’s society, although other factors can contribute, such as Epstein Barr virus and toxins in our food and air supply. Because of the heightened burden on the medical infrastructure, there has been a bigger push towards innovative techniques to treat the disease, rather than simply managing it with insulin shots. CBD oil might be one such treatment. Since 2005 there has been an explosion in research surrounding diabetes and the use of CBD as a form of treatment; Project CBD is dedicated to compiling data and research relating to the effects of CBD on diabetes sufferers.
The 2005 research paper from the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) lists numerous benefits that both CBD and cannabis can have for diabetes sufferers including:
- Stabilizing blood sugars
- Arterial anti-inflammatory properties
- “Neuroprotective” effects that help prevent inflammation of nerves and reduce the pain of neuropathy
- “Anti-spasmodic agents” help relieve muscle cramps and the pain of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders
- Acting as a “vasodilator” to help keep blood vessels open and improve circulation
- Lowering blood pressure — which is vital for diabetics
- Helping calm diabetic “restless leg syndrome” (RLS)
CBD Oil For Diabetes: The Case For Cannabinoids
The reason for these wide-ranging reliefs lies in the endogenous cannabinoid system which, according to NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), is “perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health.” Endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid receptors are found in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. They work to regulate homeostasis, which is “the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.” Thus, NORML and numerous other groups believe that small regular doses of CBD bring about homeostasis, “act[ing] as a tonic to our most central physiologic healing system.”
The underlying factor in diabetes is insulin dysfunction, and cannabinoid receptors have been found in the islet cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. Intriguingly, the activation of CB1 receptors have been previously linked to insulin production.
A five-year study, published by in the American Journal of Medicine in 2013, took an in-depth look at the effects of cannabis on fasting insulin and insulin resistance. The results showed that regular users of cannabis had 16 percent lower fasting insulin levels and 17 percent lower levels of insulin resistance than patients who had never used cannabis, both of which are symptoms of insulin dysfunction. Those who had used cannabis in the past found similar but less pronounced improvements in insulin dysfunction, leading the researchers to conclude that these effects dissipate over time.
The editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Medicine, Joseph S. Alpert, M.D., strongly supported the findings in this study, and called upon government researchers to build upon the study’s findings.
Alongside the publication he wrote:
I would like to call on the NIH and the DEA to collaborate in developing policies to implement solid scientific investigations that would lead to information assisting physicians in the proper use and prescription of THC in its synthetic or herbal form.
Meanwhile, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the famed professor known for discovering cannabinol (CBD), also observed that CBD receptors are found throughout different parts of the body. While working with researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he found that the therapeutic effects of CBD could be tailored to different endocannabinoid receptors in the body, including those in the pancreas. The pancreas regulates blood glucose levels, releasing insulin to combat high levels of blood glucose.
We also spoke to Dr Julie Chin, to talk to her about her experiences as a physician prescribing marijuana and CBD oil. She currently runs a holistic medical office (since 2001), which recently moved offices from California to New York. She also ran an integrative cannabis medicine clinic in California for five years prior to that.
I have seen firsthand just how much medical marijuana can benefit patients and how the use of cannabis in these patients have improved their quality of life, alleviated suffering, and with less side effects compared to other prescription medication. We started treating adult onset diabetes with CBD around 2007, after our patients started reporting an improvement in blood glucose levels after using cannabis for their other diseases (i.e. neuropathy, pain).
She is always adamant that CBD treatment for diabetes must be combined with a dietary change for maximum effect, as sugar intake is as important as blood sugar regulation:
Excess body fat, especially in the abdomen area, contributes to chronic low levels of abnormal inflammation. This ultimately alters insulin’s action and contributes to the disease. I help patients by creating realistic goals and help plan out menu and dietary changes that they can incorporate for themselves and their families.
Cannabis has also been linked to a higher metabolic rate (meaning the body processes calories faster and more efficiently) and is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Since chronic inflammation plays a key role in the development of insulin resistance, CBD oil could be used to treat this inflammation and help the body’s metabolism.
While there may be a reluctance among Western medical doctors to prescribe CBD oil for diabetes, or numerous other diseases and symptoms for that matter, there is a growing body of doctors, researchers, and patients who are willing to try something new. CBD oil can help treat diabetes and while there are some questions left to be answered surrounding exactly why CBD is such an effective treatment for some patients, you can’t argue that it has changed at least a few people’s lives.
Josh Hamilton is an aspiring journalist from Belfast, Northern Ireland, living in London, Ontario. Lover of music, politics, tech and life. Editor in chief at www.TheJist.co.uk
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