In this article we’ll be exploring the benefits of cannabinoids in diabetes and weight loss including what the research tells us and how we can best apply this information to make a more informed decision.
Diabetes is defined as “a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevate levels of glucose in the blood and urine.”
Diabetes is a rampant disease in the United States, according to statistics from the CBD in 2018. Diabetes has been diagnosed in 23.1 million people, with an estimated 7.2 million people as yet diagnosed. Based on these combined numbers, the CDC reports 30.0 million people are diabetic, accounting for 9.4 percent of the population.
Additionally, 84.1 million adults over the age of 18 and a whopping 23.1 million adults 65 years or older have pre-diabetes. Prediabetes is diagnosed when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not enough to be considered diabetic. For example, prediabetic A1C is between 5.7 and 6.4 percent, and diabetic A1C is 6.5 percent or higher.
In 2020 those numbers have now risen to 34.2 million people have diabetes (10.5% of the US population), and 88 million people aged 18 years or older have prediabetes (34.5% of the adult US population), and 24.4 million people aged 65 years or older have prediabetes.
In New Zealand approximately 6% of the population has diabetes. In people aged over 65 years, approximately 15-20% has diabetes, and an estimated 16% of the population under aged under 45 years has prediabetes.
Younger people who are diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes are much more likely to experience an early onset of cardiovascular disease (heart disease), retinopathy, cancer, chronic kidney disease, and early mortality than those without diabetes complications.
The benefits of cannabinoids are well documented, but here we want to discuss tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), which is the non-psychoactive cousin to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Most people are familiar with THC, which has a host of medical benefits, but some people worry about its effect on mental processes.
CBD (cannabidiol) is an isolated compound that works with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) without any of the potential side effects of THC. THCV promotes energizing effects and is currently being studied for its ability to manage diabetes.
Here’s what the research on the benefits of cannabinoids is seeing so far: a study conducted by Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that males who reported the benefits of cannabinoids by using cannabis within the past month had lower fasting insulin, less insulin resistance, a smaller waist, and better “good” cholesterol levels.
Other studies specifically monitored THCV and saw the correlation between the use of this cannabinoid, alone or with other treatments, and the occurrence similar effects to that of the Harvard Study in the benefits of cannabinoids.
Another interesting finding on THCV is that it works as an appetite suppressant. THCV works to block the reward sensations of eating foods high in fats, sugars, or carbs, which is critical to maintaining a healthy weight. Obesity is a factor associated with diabetes, so THCV could help its users eat less and make better food choices. This is another major advantage for the benefits of cannabinoids.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a much more familiar cannabinoid already recognized for a myriad of health benefits and it is now gaining interest in the management of diabetes. CBD has been shown to stabilize blood sugar, reduce the inflammation of nerves and the pain of neuropathy, and lower blood pressure.
Additionally, it helps with other conditions associated with diabetes. CBD can help treat restless leg syndrome and improves circulation by keeping blood vessels open.
Research published in the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry in 2016 points towards the benefits of cannabinoids in weight-loss efforts. Researchers observed CBD’s effect on preadipocytes, or immature fat cells, and the breakdown of those cells.
Genes and proteins are influenced by cannabinoid compounds, which increases the breakdown and oxidation of fat. This is a natural process by which the body uses fat as fuel to create energy. CBD increased the body’s ability to burn fat by encouraging higher mitochondria production and activity.
Mitochondria are responsible for converting nutrients consumed into energy. There was a decrease in the amount of protein expressed in lipogenesis. Lipogenesis is fat that is stored in adipose tissues (belly, hips, etc.), and CBD decreases this fat cell generation.
There were also findings of “fat browning.” Fat browning occurs when white fat tissue converts to beige fat tissue. White fat tissue stores energy, which stores fat. It is the most predominant fat source in the body and is the largest reserve of energy.
Too much stored white fat can lead to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and other problems. Beige fat tissue burns and metabolizes fat and burns calories to generate heat to maintain body temperature. There is significantly less of this in the body after infancy.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is connected with some metabolic functions, including storing energy and regulating insulin sensitivity. CBD can decrease appetite and lower food intake, which can help with weight loss.
The benefits of cannabinoids are well documented in promoting restful sleep patterns, reducing inflammation in the gastrointestinal system, and reducing the effects of anxiety and stress. Proper sleep gives your body the time to heal itself and prepare to function during waking hours.
Reducing inflammation in the gut can improve proper absorption of nutrients and expelling toxins from the body. Anxiety and stress will increase cortisol in the body, which is a stress hormone. Excessive cortisol can lead to weight gain, especially in the abdomen.
It’s important to distinguish that other cannabinoids can have the opposite effect. CBN and THC both show an increase in appetite, which can lead to weight gain. It is also recommended not to overstimulate the ECS, which can lead to fat storage in the abdomen, insulin resistance, and an increased storage of fat cells.
Therapeutic dosing should be started in low amounts, monitored for effectiveness, and then increased if needed. Even though the benefits of cannabinoids are well documented, it’s necessary to start slow and low and work your way up.
Researchers from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences published a study about the Benefits of Cannabinoids in Obesity in 2018 and found that using cannabinoids to stimulate CB2 cannabinoid receptors could exert anti-obesity effects by turning white fat into brown fat.
The same researchers also noted that stimulating CB2 facilitated the conversion of white fat to brown fat without any notable psychoactive effects and while providing a favorable safety profile with negligible side effects.
In one study from 2011 researchers found that cannabidiol (CBD) decreased body weight gain in a rodent model once again, utilizing the CB2 receptors.
A meta-analysis of the available research was published in 2020 by the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology with researchers concluding that “CBD has promising potential for alleviating the symptoms of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”
This is important research, as insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome go hand in hand with obesity, essentially being one in the same as most people from outside the scientific community are concerned. Another note, is that metabolic syndrome is a precursor to diabetes, so by slowing or halting the onset of metabolic syndrome, one can prevent diabetes from occurring.
A review of the literature by Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2018 found that CBD reduced total cholesterol by 25 percent in obese rats. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of CBD also appeared to decrease blood sugar levels and increase markers for liver health. This is showing the benefits of cannabinoids are high.
In considering the potential positive impact hemp products can have on diabetes outcomes, metabolic issues and weight loss, a healthful diet and plenty of exercise are still the best weight loss strategies. When combining the benefits of cannabinoids with these methods, someone could expect to experience very positive outcomes.
Nothing beats regular daily exercise. The most important key is to find the type of exercise you’re most likely to do regularly, and enjoy. That could be suburban walking, jogging, nature walks, hikes, cycling, swimming, time at the gym, playing sports with friends or solo practices like yoga, squash, pilates, resistance training or a combination of all the above.
There are many varieties of a healthful diet and although many of them can at times be confusing as to which one is the best, there are common factors all healthful diets share such as drinking plenty of water (2-3 litres daily), plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, legumes such as beans, lentils and peas, healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and hempseed oil for example.
There’s a lot of benefit to eating a wholefood plant-based diet (WFPB) with much research surrounding positive outcomes in both preventing and treating type-2 diabetes such as this study from 2018 published the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology with researchers also concluding that WFPB benefits can extend to treating cardiovascular disease, obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, inflammation, and cancer risk reduction.
For those who also wish to extend their lifestyle choices to make a positive impact on the environment the World Health Organisation and United Nations promote plant-based diets not only for preventing chronic diseases and obesity, but also because they’re more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products.
Researchers concluded, “While larger interventional studies on plant-based diets carried out for longer periods of time would add even more weight to the already mounting evidence, the case for using a plant-based diet to reduce the burden of diabetes and improve overall health has never been stronger.”
As mentioned previously, these are only some of the conditions and diagnoses that can be improved from the benefits of cannabinoids, such as CBD oil and full spectrum hemp oil products. With new discoveries about what hemp can support happening frequently, the list will only continue to grow. Scientific and medical research are crucial components of hemp’s acceptance into treatment plans.
If you or someone you know struggles with any of the diseases, conditions, or ailments mentioned above or on our blog, consider making hemp a part of the healing. As with any product or treatment, the user is strongly encouraged to do research about what they are using. There are varying grades of quality and value in hemp products, so informed decisions are key.
If you found this article of value, consider sharing this with a friend who you know would benefit from this information. For further articles like this, visit our blog on the benefits of cannabinoids.
As always, prior to making any changes to your lifestyle or treatment plan, consult with a licenced medical professional.