CBD has been shown to protect against type 1 diabetes in mice and may help with many complications and associated symptoms of the disease. But more clinical research is needed before we know anything for certain.
Gleb OleinikUpdated on March 22, 2023
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Strength of Evidence
There have only been a couple of high-quality clinical studies looking at CBD and diabetes or conditions related to it.
CBD may alleviate diabetic neuropathy pain but other effects are uncertain.
CBD oil may alleviate neuropathic pain and potentially other complications and symptoms related to diabetes. But more human studies are needed.
Most people use cannabidiol (CBD) oil to improve anxiety, sleep, and pain. But some are also taking it for other issues, including diabetes.
Early research suggests that CBD may protect against type 1 diabetes, relieve diabetic complications, such as nerve and eye damage, and help with associated symptoms of anxiety and depression.
But CBD is not a miracle drug and there aren’t many clinical studies of its effects on this common condition. Here’s what we know about using CBD oil for diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease related to insulin — a hormone that controls how much sugar is in your blood. ¹ When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t respond to it properly, leading to elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels.
Over time, this can lead to serious issues, including damage to the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke, and other severe conditions.
Diabetes is mainly caused by lifestyle factors such as an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. But genes and environmental factors play a role as well, especially in type 1 diabetes.
One of the most common health conditions, diabetes affects about 1 in 11 adults worldwide.
Type 1 diabetes: A form of diabetes where your body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Scientists think it’s caused by a mix of genes and environmental factors.
Type 2 diabetes: With this type of diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t respond to it properly. Caused by lifestyle factors and genes, this is the most common type of diabetes, affecting 90-95% of sufferers.
Gestational diabetes: Diabetes that occurs in pregnant women who never had the condition before.
Prediabetes: You can be diagnosed with prediabetes if your blood sugar levels are above normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.
Diabetes Symptoms & Pathology
The symptoms of diabetes vary depending on how high your blood sugar is.
It’s not uncommon for people with type 2 or prediabetes to experience no symptoms and only find out they have the disease when they notice diabetes-related complications. Meanwhile, the signs of type 1 diabetes are more severe and can appear after a few weeks.
Animal studies of CBD for diabetes show promising effects, particularly for the type-1 variety.
Two frequently cited studies from 2006 and 2008 found that CBD significantly lowered the risk of developing type 1 diabetes by reducing inflammation, which protected against damage to the pancreatic islet cells that play the central role in the disease. ² ³
The researchers concluded that “Our data strengthen our previous assumption that CBD, known to be safe in man, can possibly be used as a therapeutic agent for treatment of type 1 diabetes.”
A similar 2016 study confirmed that CBD primarily works by reducing inflammation in the pancreas. ⁴
Animal studies have also reported that CBD can improve the many complications of diabetes, including cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), retinopathy (eye damage), and neuropathic (nerve damage) pain. ⁵ ⁶ ⁷
Another petri dish study also showed that CBD could offset the damage to blood vessels caused by high blood sugar, suggesting that it may “have significant therapeutic benefits against diabetic complications and atherosclerosis [plaque build-up in arteries]. ⁸
CBD can also reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, the rates of which are much higher in patients with diabetes compared to healthy people. ⁹ A 2020 study in diabetic rats found that CBD significantly improved anxious and depressive behavior. ¹⁰
This network of cannabinoid receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids helps maintain homeostasis — a state of internal balance. To achieve that, it regulates many processes involved in diabetes, including immune function, inflammation, and energy metabolism. ¹¹
Emerging research suggests that an overactive ECS may contribute to the development of diabetes and its complications. Researchers also believe that “there is a strong rationale to explore its [CBD’s] therapeutic potential in human diabetes and diabetic complications.” ¹²
What Does the Research Say?
Clinical research on CBD and diabetes is scarce, so it’s tough to say if the promising findings of animal studies translate to humans.
In one 2016 study, researchers compared the effects of CBD and another non-intoxicating cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) to placebo treatment in 62 people with type 2 diabetes.
Only THCV outperformed placebo, significantly reducing fasting blood glucose levels, and improving pancreas cell function and levels of the anti-diabetic hormone adiponectin. CBD didn’t have any major effects although it had a positive influence on some molecules involved in diabetes, like resistin and gut hormones. ¹³
The researchers concluded that “THCV could represent a new therapeutic agent in glycemic control in subjects with type 2 diabetes.”
Another 2020 placebo-controlled study found that topical CBD oil improved pain caused by peripheral neuropathy in the hands and feet in 29 people. ¹⁴ This type of neuropathic pain can be a complication of diabetes.
Similarly, a 2015 study of Sativex, a drug that combines a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC, reported improvements in 234 people with peripheral neuropathic pain related to diabetes or allodynia. More than half of the patients had a 30% or greater reduction in pain. ¹⁵
The bottom line is that CBD could have some beneficial effects on diabetes and its complications but we can’t say anything conclusive until more clinical studies are done.
How Much CBD Should I Take for Diabetes?
You won’t find an official recommended dosage of CBD oil for diabetes due to the lack of research. Even if one existed, it would vary by the person because of differences in body weight, genetics, symptom severity, product types, and more.
We recommend the “start low and go slow” method advised by healthcare experts. ¹⁶ You can either begin with a small dose like 10-15 mg or the amount suggested by your CBD product. See how the CBD dose affects you; if it’s not enough, increase and try again.
Keep in mind that diabetes is more tricky than other conditions because it’s not immediately apparent if the CBD is doing anything. You may need to take it for a few weeks or months to notice a difference. Furthermore, you may need a higher-strength tincture or one that features a different extract type.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Clinical research suggests that CBD is generally safe and well-tolerated. ¹⁷ Although side effects have been reported, they’re usually minor, such as: ¹⁸
Low blood pressure
Changes in appetite or weight
There’s also some early evidence that CBD could interact with certain prescription drugs. ¹⁹
But these side effects were reported by studies using high oral doses of pure CBD. Since most CBD users opt for full-spectrum products and oils instead of capsules and other ingestible products, the likelihood of experiencing side effects is slim.
It’s too early to tell if there’s any merit to taking CBD oil for diabetes.
Although animal and petri dish research is promising, showing protection against type 1 diabetes and improvements in the complications of diabetes and related symptoms of anxiety and depression, clinical research is lacking.
In particular, more human research of CBD’s effects on blood glucose, cholesterol, and other aspects of diabetes is needed.
If you want to try taking CBD for diabetes, we recommend choosing a full-spectrum CBD tincture from a reputable, third-party tested brand. There’s no best CBD oil for diabetes specifically.
Gleb Oleinik is a freelance CBD & cannabis writer from Vancouver, Canada. He’s read thousands of studies about cannabinoids and other beneficial natural compounds, helping him translate complex science into plain language. He’s also written third-party lab test reports of CBD products and knows the industry inside and out. When he’s not writing, Gleb likes to spend his time in the gym and out in nature.
Frequently Asked Questions
The right dose of CBD oil to take is different for every person since it depends on individual factors like your weight, symptom severity, and the potency of the oil you’re taking. Start with 10-15 mg or the dose recommended by your product and gradually increase from there.
The best way to use CBD oil for chronic conditions like diabetes is to take it once or twice daily. The easiest routine is to take a dose in the morning and another before you head to bed, especially if you experience diabetes-related sleep issues.