May 11, 2021 4 min read
Like inflammation, blood sugar (glucose) is an often-underestimated component of health. Our bodies convert food into blood glucose as the primary source of energy to fuel our lives and power our cells. For people without diabetes, if blood glucose levels are too low, we might feel dizzy, hungry, irritated, tearful, or have heart palpitations. If blood sugar is too high, we might feel tired, thirsty, nauseous, have stomach pain, need to pee frequently, or have a parched mouth.
In healthy people, the pancreas makes insulin to regulate glucose levels in the bloodstream tightly. Whether you eat one huge meal or five small ones, insulin helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin also allows glucose to enter cells to be used for energy.
Diabetes affects a body’s ability to produce the insulin required to properly manage blood sugar levels and deliver needed fuel to the cells.
Untreated diabetes increases the risk for stroke and heart disease, can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout the body, can cause extreme thirst, excessive urination, kidney damage, and infections, ulcers, or cracked skin on the feet.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be managed with insulin and can benefit from anti-inflammatory lifestyle choices like a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Type 1 diabetes, usually discovered in children or young adults, is an autoimmune disease. The relationship between inflammation and diabetes is more prevalent in type 2, or the adult-onset version.
Recent studies discovered that chronic inflammation plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Risk factors for developing diabetes include being overweight or obese, an unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking. Researchers recognize that where these risk factors are present, chronic inflammation is an initiator of and principal mediator to the development of the disease.
Inflammation plays a crucial role in the onset of type 2 diabetes. It also drives its most devastating complications, including heart, kidney, and gum disease. Scientists believed this chronic inflammation and its complications were caused by glucose but are discovering that certain types of fats may be the culprit. Patients with diabetes often have white adipose tissue (extra fat) around the trunk, upper body, or abdomen. Obesity (a risk factor for diabetes) is associated with excess fat stored in and around major organs. A healthy gut microbiome and limited consumption of saturated and trans-fats may be key to avoiding and managing diabetes and the damaging inflammation associated with it.
If you’ve read all four parts of this series, you’ve seen that inflammation plays a role in COVID, cancer, anxiety, and depression and that CBD works with the immune and central nervous systems to help the body manage and fight these conditions. Even so, how can CBD possibly benefit people who are dealing with diabetes?
Diabetes is a complex metabolic condition that affects multiple systems in the body, and research on CBD and diabetes is still in the early stages. Studies show that CBD can play a role in preventing the disease and managing symptoms for type 2 patients.
A preclinical study found that CBD reduced the likelihood that nonobese mice would develop diabetes by over 50% relative to the control group. The researchers found CBD to inhibit and delay disease of the pancreas and to reduce inflammatory markers.
Multiple studies demonstrated that CBD reduces chronic inflammation associated with a variety of conditions. A study that looked specifically at inflammation triggered by high glucose levels found that CBD had positive effects on several markers of inflammation. The results also indicated CBD might help mitigate the damage diabetes can inflict on the blood vessels.
One side-effect for some patients is diabetic neuropathy. Damage to the nervous system can cause numbness or pain, especially in the feet and legs, although sometimes in the digestive system, urinary tract, or heart.
A 2017 preclinical study found that CBD reduced inflammation and nerve pain associated with osteoarthritis.
A 2012 study found CBD to be effective in suppressing chronic inflammation and neuropathic pain. Another study done the same year showed similar results combining CBD with THC.
Individual patients have reported success using CBD to balance their blood glucose levels. While some studies show that CBD can help the body use insulin more effectively, these results have not yet been verified by research studies.
Scientists are discovering that chronic inflammation is a component of or significant driver for many of today’s common and deadly diseases. We covered four in this series, but the actual list of complications associated with chronic inflammation is much longer and includes heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fatty liver disease, and digestive system disorders like Crohn’s disease.
Lifestyle plays a crucial role in managing inflammation and avoiding the complications caused by it. A balanced diet of whole foods, combined with plenty of water, sleep, and exercise may not keep us alive forever, but it will improve our quality of life while we’re here.
CBD’s natural, pervasive, and systemic anti-inflammatory and balancing effects help our brain, immune systems, and central nervous systems find and maintain equilibrium. With the mounting evidence of CBD’s potency and effectiveness across many conditions, CBD is a beneficial addition to a healthy lifestyle.
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