Diabetes mellitus often referred to as diabetes—is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough, or does not properly respond to, insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin enables cells to absorb glucose in order to turn it into energy. This causes glucose to accumulate in the blood (hyperglycemia), leading to various potential complications.

Many types of diabetes are recognized; The principal three are:

  • Type 1: Results from the body's failure to produce insulin. It is estimated that 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Presently, most persons with type 1 diabetes take insulin injections.
  • Type 2: Results from insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly, sometimes combined with absolute insulin deficiency. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but have high blood sugar (glucose) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women. It may precede development of type 2 (or rarely type1) DM.

All forms of diabetes have been treatable since insulin became medically available in 1921, but a cure is difficult. Pancreas transplants have been tried with limited success in type 1 DM; gastric bypass surgery has been successful in many with morbid obesity and type 2 DM; and gestational diabetes usually resolves after delivery. Diabetes without proper treatments can cause many complications. Acute complications include hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, or nonketotic hyperosmolar coma. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, chronic renal failure, retinal damage. Adequate treatment of diabetes is thus important, as well as blood pressure control and lifestyle factors such as smoking cessation and maintaining a healthy body weight.

At Hadassah Hebrew University Hospital in Jerusalem, researchers found that CBD (Cannabidiol) lowers the incidence of diabetes in young non-obese diabetes-prone (NOD) female mice. In their study they showed that administering CBD to 11-14 week old female NOD mice (either in a latent diabetes stage or with initial symptoms of diabetes) lessened the manifestations of the disease. In addition, “Diabetes was diagnosed in only 32% of the mice in the CBD-treated group, compared to 86% and 100% in the emulsifier-treated and untreated groups, respectively.”

If this type of data is found to be comparable in humans, a promising new form of treatment will emerge for this disease that afflicts at least 171 million people worldwide.