Is eating too much of the sweet stuff the main reason why people develop blood sugar abnormalities such as type 2 diabetes?
Of course, that’s one of the main reasons. When you eat something with carbs, the blood-sugar-controlling hormone, insulin is produced and secreted by beta cells in the pancreas. The more and more sugar and starches (which quickly metabolize into sugar) you consume, eventually, the more resistant your body becomes to insulin.
The pancreas then must work overtime to produce more and more insulin to escort the glucose into the cells. Why do your cells need to absorb the glucose? So, they can use it for energy. But when your cells are constantly filled with insulin, your cells no longer want to accept anymore. The result is chronically-higher blood sugar levels that may eventually need to be managed with medication and/or insulin injections.
But there’s another cause of abnormal blood sugar levels that you’re probably not familiar with:
A 2016 study from the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests an overactive endocannabinoid system (ECS) may contribute to the development of diabetes.
The Endocannabinoid System and Blood Sugar Regulation
It makes sense that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a role in regulating blood sugar. Activating ECS receptors by among other things, high-quality CBD oil, activates the neurotransmitters. This improves cell-to-cell communication. Similar to how things are groovier when people effectively communicate with each other, when cells interact more efficiently, the body’s myriad systems work better. The ECS, when activated, promotes homeostasis (balance).
However, the ECS can become too activated. Think about it this way: when two people are trying to have a conversation, if one of them hyperactively dominates the conversation, communication is ineffective. Likewise, when the ECS becomes hyperstimulated, both glucose and lipid (fat) metabolism become sluggish.
An unbalanced ECS can cause beta cells in the pancreas to die, researchers believe. Since insulin-secreting beta cells are produced in the pancreas, an out-of-whack ECS can cause inflammation in pancreatic islets.
How the ECS Can Contribute To Diabetes
Which begs the question, what leads to an imbalance of the ECS? Unfortunately, researchers aren’t 100% sure. But it’s likely that if you eat a high-sugar, high-carb diet, that lifestyle choice alone can lead to imbalance. Think of sugar as fuel and think of your body as a high-performance sports car. If you pour the wrong kind of fuel in your tank, your engine will eventually break down. If you guzzle a liter of soda, at first, it might seem like your engine is revving nicely. But within a short time, the fuel burns up too quickly and you become exhausted; you’re out of fuel.
An excess of sugar intake directly impacts the ECS. High blood sugar and diabetes have been shown to trigger disturbances of the ECS. For example, the ECS also influences the following conditions, according to the study mentioned above:
- Diabetes‐induced oxidative stress
- Tissue injury in target organs for diabetic complications (retinopathy, and neuropathy)
- Cardiovascular complications
Here are other ways in which a hyperactive ECS further contributes to metabolic disorders:
- Accumulation of visceral fat (the dangerous kind of fat that surrounds vital organs)
- Reduction of energy expenditure (metabolism slows down)
- Development of insulin resistance.
- Beta cell failure
Can CBD Help Regulate Blood Sugar?
Don’t take our word for it. Here’s what the researchers say in the British Journal of Pharmacology study: “Numerous experimental studies have also demonstrated beneficial effects of cannabidiol [CBD].”
We should mention here that if you go crazy eating a bunch of sugary snacks and high-carb treats, taking a dropper-full of CBD oil may not do much for you. But it’s nice to know that research shows CBD, because of its “antioxidant, anti‐inflammatory and tissue-protective effects”, may help prevent the overstimulation of the ECS.
The researchers also pointed to a 2015 study that showed that CBD improves cellular function and reduces injury to the heart. Studies on rodents that were given CBD also showed impressive results, including reduced swelling from nerve damage. Obviously, more research on humans is needed to substantiate these findings. But considering the research thus far, “There is a strong rationale to explore [CBD’s] therapeutic potential in human diabetes and diabetic complications,” write the co-authors in the British Journal of Pharmacology study.
CBD and Diabetes Medication
If you have type 2 diabetes, is it safe to take CBD? You should check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe. The consensus is that CBD is safe to take with the most popular diabetes drugs such as metformin.
But if you ask a doctor about it, there’s a chance your health professional won’t know. Take it from this diabetes patient on a forum at diabetesdaily.com: “I take metformin and blood sugar continues to stay high (160-200 in AM.) [I] started taking CBD oil 2 x a day. Now at 120-140 for [the] past week. Can I start reducing metformin?”
When another person on the forum responded by suggesting checking with their doctor, the CBD user said, “[My doctor] doesn’t seem to want to talk about CBD.”
This poses a dilemma for CBD users who take diabetes drugs, or diabetes patients who are CBD-curious. According to Medscape, “Even pharmacologists and clinicians are debating what to do. Many admit that they don’t know about cannabis—and the hundreds of cannabinoids it contains, including the two main ones, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD and Blood Sugar Management: Conclusion
If you want to enjoy a healthy life, the name of the game is to have minimal glucose freely flowing in the bloodstream. Prevent insulin spikes and keep blood sugar levels steady by eliminating added sugars and limiting starchy carbs. If you take diabetes medication, do not stop taking it without consulting with your physician.