Can You Control Diabetes with CBD?

The effectiveness of CBD as an anti-inflammatory agent has raised the question whether it can be helpful in controlling diabetes, an inflammatory condition, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) in 2017, affects just under 10 percent of the U.S. population or around 30.3 million people. Another 84 million Americans suffer from prediabetes.[1]

There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2.  Diabetes type 1 is rarer and affects just over 5 percent of total diabetes sufferers. Type 1 diabetes is caused by autoimmune-induced inflammatory destruction of beta-cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for producing insulin. Insulin converts glucose into energy.  Type 1 diabetes results in insulin deficiency and hyperglycemia (high levels of glucose in blood).

Diabetes type 2 is more common. People with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant. Researchers have found high levels of inflammation with diabetes type 2 sufferers. [2]

CBD fights inflammation

 Because CBD is anti-inflammatory, researchers have been looking at conditions, such as diabetes, where inflammation is a root cause. CBD is one of the over 60 cannabinoids or naturally-occurring chemicals found in industrial hemp and marijuana. Cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is made up of endocannabinoids or neurotransmitters that send chemical messages between neurons, the cells that transmit nerve impulses.  

The ECS stimulates and controls many of the body’s functions, such as sleep, memory, appetite and immune response. ECS acts to restore balance whenever something happens with those body functions. The ECS has CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. The activation of CB2 receptors can lower inflammation. When CBD interacts with the CB2 receptor, it inhibits inflammation.[3]

What Research Says

There currently are no significant studies indicating that CBD or CBD oil can reduce high levels of blood sugar. However, several studies suggest CBD may play a role in reducing diabetic inflammation and diabetic symptoms, such as diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) and skin infections.  For example, one study found that CBD reduced early pancreatic inflammation in type 1 non-obese diabetic animal subjects. It also showed lower overall occurrence of the disease. [4]  Another study by the American Diabetes Association indicated CBD reduced resistance to insulin in type 2 patients. (CBD reduced circulating resistin concentrations, while increasing the concentration of circulating gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP). Increased concentrations of resistin are associated with obesity and insulin resistance.)[5]

Relative to helping ease diabetic symptoms, one study conducted in 2006 proved that CBD had neuroprotective and blood-retinal, barrier-preserving effects in experimental diabetes in animals.  A 2007 study indicated that CBD had significant therapeutic effects relative to diabetic complications and atherosclerosis (buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in the arteries which can restrict blood flow) by reducing the effects of (induced) hyperglycemia. And research conducted in 2010 proved CBD exhibited pain blocking effects in animal subjects who had diabetic peripheral neuropathy. [6]

While more research is needed, CBD may be able to decrease insulin resistance and help with diabetic-related conditions.


[1] CBD Report: More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes,” CDC press release, July 18, 2017.
[2] Smith, Haley, “CBD and Diabetes: What The Research Says [2021 Study],” CBD Incubator, January 2, 2020.
[3] Meyer, Melissa, “CB1 and CB2 Receptors How the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) Works,” HealthMJ, October 17, 2019.
[4] Lehmann C, Fisher NB, Tugwell B, Szczesniak A, Kelly M, Zhou J. Experimental cannabidiol treatment reduces early pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes. Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 2016;64(4):655-662. doi: 10.3233/CH-168021. PMID: 27767974.
[5] Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Glycemic and Lipid Parameters in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Pilot Study, Khalid A. Jadoon, Stuart H. Ratcliffe, David A. Barrett, E. Louise Thomas, Colin Stott, Jimmy D. Bell, Saoirse E. O’Sullivan, Garry D. Tan Diabetes Care Oct 2016, 39 (10) 1777-1786; DOI: 10.2337/dc16-0650.
[6] Smith, Haley, “CBD and Diabetes: What The Research Says [2021 Study].”