Early experiments conducted on the effect CBD oil has on the cardiovascular system are promising. Do they have enough basis? Let's find out! CBD oil is made from cannabis plants but won’t make you high. Still, this natural supplement could interact with some heart medicines. Find out what you need to know before you try CBD oil for heart failure. The CBD Craze: How It Affects the Vascular System In just a few years, the therapeutic use of cannabidiol (CBD)—one of the active ingredients in marijuana (cannabis)—has attracted a lot of
Does CBD Lower Blood Pressure? How Does CBD Affect Our Heart?
Claims regarding CBD oil’s effectiveness in treating anything and everything have been in the news a lot over the past few years. Separating fact from hype is a daunting task, and unfounded claims make people hesitant.
Many find it easier to write CBD off as 21st-century snake oil, but doing so risks missing out on a potentially powerful resource we are just beginning to understand.
Chronic, low-level stress is an issue for many people, and chronic stress often results in high blood pressure and heart disease. Listed as the top killer for both men and women in the US, heart disease is a condition where all potential treatments need investigating.
While additional studies are needed, early experiments conducted on the effect CBD oil has on the cardiovascular system are promising.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Few, if any, high blood pressure patients can point to a singular cause of their condition. Our bodies are a complex series of interconnected systems, so a change in one often becomes a change to all.
The causes of high blood pressure are equally complex, and different combinations of risk factors exist in most high blood pressure patients. However, you can classify these risk factors into two groups: lifestyle-related risks and those caused by underlying conditions.
Lifestyle Related Risk Factors
Modern conveniences have made our lives easier. Yet, the cultural shifts caused by these conveniences led to a rise in the controllable risk factors for high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- High Salt Diet
- Stress – Especially Chronic Stress
- Excessive Alcohol Use
Each of the factors listed above contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease in some way. Obesity increases the distance blood must travel, stress puts your system into overdrive, and others constrict blood vessels. All these different reactions increase the load placed on the heart and damage to arteries and veins.
The insidious thing is, many of these risk factors can set off a chain reaction that causes other problems. For example, a sedentary lifestyle with a high salt diet and frequent or heavy alcohol consumption can cause obesity. Chronic stress can increase cravings for salty, fatty, or sugary foods, lower your motivation to work out, and increase the temptation to turn to tobacco or alcohol for relief.
Ultimately, one bad factor can result in someone completing the entire list!
Anecdotal evidence claims CBD oil benefits cardiovascular health by helping individuals get their stress response under control. By reducing stress hormones and the body’s physical reaction to stress, the chain reaction is stopped before it gets going, thus reducing the controllable risk factors.
Studies are still in the early stages, but several are finding evidence backing up these user experiences.
Risk Factors Due to Underlying Conditions
As stated above, a problem in one system produces a ripple effect in others. Several health conditions eventually cause increased strain on the cardiovascular system resulting in heart disease or high blood pressure.
- Adrenal Diseases or Tumors
- Kidney Disease
- Genetic Factors
- Sleep Apnea
- Thyroid Disorders
Someone with these risk factors needs to address them early to prevent complications. Likewise, they should not embrace lifestyles that could worsen the condition.
How Does High Blood Pressure Affect the Heart?
We all understand high blood pressure is a cause for worry. Doctors talk about high blood pressure, also called hypertension, and the damage it can do to your heart often enough.
However, what exactly does high blood pressure do to the heart?
Damage Starts with Arteries
Because the heart is a pump, it seems logical high blood pressure must start there, but it does not. High blood pressure starts in the blood vessels, where excess fat and cholesterol slowly collects on the walls. As the vessels become narrower, the heart must pump harder to push blood through them.
Our blood vessels are supposed to be flexible, but these plaque build-ups harden them. Vessels become stiff and less stretchy, and it takes more pressure for blood to move through them. Between their loss of elasticity and the increased pressure, blood vessels become far more prone to injury.
Damage can come in many ways. Part of a plaque can break off and cause a complete blockage, or the pressure can become too much for a vessel. Worse, the artery wall can buckle and bulge into an aneurysm.
Impact on the Heart Itself
As the vessels narrow, the heart must pump harder and faster to continue moving blood throughout the body. Over time, this increased demand takes a toll on the muscle.
Like any muscle, the heart needs a steady blood supply to provide it with the fuel and oxygen necessary to keep working. Arterial damage can lower blood flow to the heart, effectively starving parts of it.
What happens to any muscle group when you work it harder? It grows. Unfortunately, in the case of high blood pressure, these gains are unbalanced.
The left side of the heart overcompensates, resulting in the left ventricle becoming thickened. The combination of restricted blood flow to the heart itself, increased demand, and uneven function increases the strain on your heart and raises the risk of heart attacks.
All of this damage to the muscle compounds over time, setting up an awful chain of events.
What Is CBD Exactly?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is a cannabinoid found in hemp or marijuana. Although in the same chemical family as THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD does not have intoxicating effects. Yet, it still works with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Most CBD oil available is extracted from hemp and later diluted in a carrier oil. While these extracts may contain trace amounts of THC, federal regulations require them to possess less than 0.3%. These levels are not high enough to produce psychoactive reactions.
THC vs. CBD: What’s the Difference?
THC and CBD are both molecules found in marijuana and hemp plants to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the species. While these molecules are similar enough to both be classified as cannabinoids, they are structurally different. This difference in their molecular structure results in the body reacting to them in different ways.
Our bodies all have CB1 and CB2 receptors within our endocannabinoid system. CB1 receptors communicate with the brain structures responsible for our time perception, memory, and coordination. CB2 receptors coordinate inflammatory responses and connect to our pain centers.
THC attaches to CB1 receptors and affects them directly. In doing so, THC disrupts the endocannabinoid system’s typical function and results in the intoxicating effects of THC.
CBD acts more as a catalyst. Instead of binding to either receptor, CBD triggers a chain of events that stimulate receptors within the brain and body to trigger a reduction in inflammation and pain.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD’s impact on the body centers around our stress response. Anxiety and depression are immediate and chronic reactions to the stress response. Pain and inflammation exist as both triggers for the stress response and results from its activation.
Studies on CBD oil show reductions in inflammation, physiological reactions to anxiety, pain, and improvement in depression symptoms.
The exact mechanisms behind CBD’s observed effects are still uncertain. Evidence suggests it works with receptors to shift the balance of serotonin and cortisol. Impacts on other hormones and neurotransmitters may also exist, but more research is needed.
What Effect Does CBD Have on Blood Pressure?
Remember how stress sets off a chain of reactions? CBD helps control blood pressure by lowering the body’s stress response and the physiological effects it produces.
Comprehensive stress reduction seems to be the mechanism behind most, if not all, of CBD’s benefits for both physical and mental health. It reduces pain, a typical stress trigger, and it lowers the defensive responses brought on by our autonomic nervous system.
Effects of Lowered Stress
The way we discuss stress today can muddle our understanding of why our body reacts the way it does to stressful situations. Humans rapidly developed control over their environments, but our bodies are still adjusting to these new lifestyle changes. In certain situations, our system overreacts because it does not know how to respond.sss
Fear, worry, pain, and other triggers send our bodies into defensive mode. Our stress response developed to help us escape natural disasters and predators or to enable us to fight off similar threats.
We might not face those kinds of dangers today, but our nervous system cannot tell the difference between anxiety brought on by needing to give a speech and that caused by seeing a mountain lion preparing to pounce.
There was once a clear end to stressors in past centuries, but the problems we face today rarely seem to end. For example, our ancestors knew when they escaped a bear. But for us, stress from work is ever-present.
While our natural reactions can keep us safe in short-lived emergencies, they produce significant damage under prolonged exposure. Feeling stressed due to work and bills is like fighting a bear every day.
Studies done on CBD oil show a significant reduction in cortisol, one of our main stress hormones. CBD also helps even out adrenal function. In other words, it reduces stress on a chemical level and stops the snowball from growing into a mountain of problems.
Another benefit of CBD oil on cardiovascular health is its anti-inflammatory nature.
The benefits of inflammation reduction go way beyond arthritis and injuries. Inflammation is our immune system’s reaction to most troubles, anywhere in the body. Like other aspects of our stress response, inflammation is helpful when used in short, localized bursts, but it becomes harmful when it is widespread or chronic.
Unfortunately, systemic inflammation is a problem most experience today without even knowing it. This is often caused by reactions to substances in our food or environment, continual low-level stress, sleep deprivation, and poor sleep.
Blood pressure begins to rise as plaques build-up, narrowing the blood vessels. This increase in pressure causes inflammation as the body attempts to protect itself, and blood pressure increases even more.
CBD oil may help lower blood pressure by reducing this inflammation and allowing the blood vessels to relax.
How Does CBD Impact Heart Health?
The risk factors for heart disease within our control stem mostly from stress and how we react to it. Think about this for a moment — when are you most likely to overindulge in junk food or alcohol, smoke, or skip the gym?
Often, people deal with stress by adopting unhealthy behaviors that only complicate the issue.
Stress spikes our heart rate and breathing, and it makes us worry and sweaty. It can also drive us to make decisions that are not in our health’s best interest over the long run. Will power alone only lasts so long, after all.
While further testing is needed, evidence hints CBD oil reduces the psychological and physiological effects of stress. That not only makes the individual feel better now, but it increases the chances they will make healthier decisions.
How Do You Use CBD?
There are a variety of ways to take CBD oil. You can use edibles, topical solutions, and capsules, but tinctures and water-soluble solutions are also popular.
CBD works best when used consistently in a regular regimen. A typical example would be a dropper of our Full Spectrum CBD Oil under the tongue in the morning and applying a little CBD Body Butter after your bath in the evening.
With regular use, CBD affects your body’s endocannabinoid system to regulate your stress response and mellow you out.
Find Your CBD Dosage
The ideal therapeutic dosage varies due to metabolic factors, weight, and more. Studies have yet to determine a definitive amount since the optimum dosage has a wide range. Each person will need to go through some trial and error to find what amount works for them.
Those of us here at SUPA Naturals find it best to start with a low dose and work your way up until you find relief.
Work with Your Doctor
As with any change in regimen, make sure to speak with your doctor before adding CBD oil. This conversation is of particular importance if you take medications for hypertension or heart disease since negative interactions can occur.
How We Can Help
Helping individuals find the CBD products that work for them is our specialty. We have worked with countless people who needed natural solutions to stress and other ailments.
Browse our store for non-GMO, organic CBD products, or contact us with any questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
CBD can reduce the symptoms of high blood pressure, which with poor cardiovascular health is usually associated with inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation can result from anything from stress to something in our food. CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation overall, which can help reduce symptoms of high blood pressure.
CBD may help to reduce blood pressure. One of the best benefits of CBD is that it lowers stress. This not only helps with conditions like anxiety but can help to combat high blood pressure actively. Stress is one of the most significant contributors to high blood pressure. Both of these conditions can wreak havoc on the rest of the body as well. CBD can help.
While CBD does not affect your resting heart rate, it can help bring down your heart rate when it increases. When you experience stress, your heart rate and blood pressure typically go up. CBD can help by reducing stress and therefore reducing your heart rate and blood pressure back to a normal range.
CBD Oil and Heart Failure
Could CBD oil ease your heart failure symptoms or help you manage your condition? This herbal supplement is sold over the counter and may be marketed with various health claims, but heart experts aren’t so sure it’s worthwhile or even safe if you have heart failure.
“Heart failure patients should know that while CBD has been touted as a wonder compound and seems to be in almost everything these days, it has never been shown to have any significant cardiovascular benefits in human studies,” says Scott Lundgren, DO, a transplant cardiologist at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil contains cannabidiol, an herbal liquid supplement made from the cannabis plant. It doesn’t have the same effect on the brain as THC, another compound found in cannabis that gives you a “high” when smoked or eaten, says Larry Allen, MD, associate division head for clinical affairs in cardiology at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
“There are no known cardiovascular benefits for cannabis or cannabidiol, and there may even be some adverse effects, so people should not take these products and think that it will have positive effects on their cardiovascular health,” says Allen, who’s also co-author of the American Heart Association’s statement on all cannabis products.
In 2018, the FDA approved the first oral, purified CBD drug, Epidiolex, to treat seizures in two rare forms of epilepsy. Two synthetic versions of cannabiinds are also approved: dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) for treatment of nausea during cancer chemotherapy and nabilone (Cesamet) to treat weight loss associated with AIDS. Marinol is synthetic THC
Some of CBD’s proven benefits in other health conditions may be intriguing to people living with heart failure, Allen says.
“Does it stimulate your appetite? Yes. Do people gain weight if they take it? Possibly true. Patients with severe heart failure do have cachexia,” or severe weight loss and muscle wasting, he says. “One could argue that people with nausea, lack of appetite, or who are losing weight could think CBD would help them. People with heart failure have a fair amount of discomfort, including edema [swelling] and somatic or pain-related issues, so you could think CBD has a role.”
But there isn’t really any evidence to prove that it will relieve heart failure symptoms or be safe to use if you have heart failure, he adds.
What We Know About CBD
Some research suggests that CBD oil may improve some heart-related symptoms:
- A very small study conducted in 2017 in England found that CBD improved resting blood pressure and blood pressure spikes related to stress in people without heart conditions.
- Various studies in animals have shown that CBD could improve vasorelaxation, or opening of arteries for better blood flow, as well as reduce inflammation. A small clinical trial from Mexico studying CBD in people with heart failure hasn’t reported any results yet.
- A large study of more than 161,000 people hospitalized for heart failure who had used marijuana found that they had, on average, a lower risk of death and shorter hospital stays. But this doesn’t necessarily mean CBD oil would have the same benefit.
It’s illegal in the U.S. to market CBD by adding it to any food or calling it a dietary supplement. Also, although the FDA has approved a few CBD drugs to treat certain diseases, don’t expect CBD sold over the counter to be safe or beneficial for heart failure, Lundgren says.
“CBD oil may not have the same properties, and it can actually cause gastrointestinal distress like diarrhea or cause decreased appetite. CBD products can include unknown ingredients and may not be accurately labeled,” he says.
When you use CBD oil, your liver breaks it down. During this process, it could interfere with your medications for heart failure or other heart conditions. “CBD has known interactions with warfarin, certain statins, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, and nitrates. Just because a supplement is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean that it is safe,” Lundgren says.
CBD May Have Health Risks
CBD oil must be studied in randomized clinical trials on people, not animals, before it can be considered safe or effective for heart failure, Lundgren says. Until that happens, he advises against buying or using CBD. “There is some evidence that CBD can cause liver injury as well as lead to male infertility issues. When consumed with alcohol, individuals may experience increased drowsiness, which can lead to household injuries.”
If you have heart failure, you might feel like you’re taking control of your own care by trying herbal treatments that don’t require a prescription. To be safe, talk to your cardiologist first: Ask questions about CBD oil and make decisions together about using this or any other supplement, Allen says.
“CBD products cost money and can distract you from taking prescribed treatments for heart failure that are evidence-based. They could do indirect harm to people with heart failure. . We already have a half-dozen treatments for heart failure symptoms and to help you live longer.”
Larry Allen, MD, MHS, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Scott Lundgren, DO, Nebraska Medicine.
FDA: “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD,” “FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy,” “FDA and Cannabis: Research and Drug Approval Process.”
JCI Insight: “A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study.”
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: “Therapeutic Applications of Cannabinoids in Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure.”
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.”
ClinicalTrials.gov: “Cannabidiol in Patients With Heart Failure in AHA/ACC Stages A-C (CAPITAL-AC).” NCT03634189.
Journal of Cardiac Failure: “Marijuana Use is Associated with Better Hospital Outcome in Patients with Acute Heart Failure: A Propensity Match Analysis from National Inpatient Database.”
The CBD Craze: How It Affects the Vascular System
In just a few years, the therapeutic use of cannabidiol (CBD)—one of the active ingredients in marijuana (cannabis)—has attracted a lot of attention from the scientific community and general public. This elusive compound has been the subject of debate across the country. Drug classification in the U.S. is not always straightforward and often depends on each substance’s acceptable medical uses and its potential for dependency or abuse. However, research on CBD is growing (pun intended).
Scientists and consumers alike want to know more about CBD and if using it will cause the mind-altering effects that have been linked to the shape of this plant for so long. Researchers are also learning more about the potential effects of CBD on the body’s blood vessels (vascular system).
CBD is a cannabinoid, a compound that binds to special cells called cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoid receptors can be found throughout the body and are involved in many physiological functions, including appetite, mood and the ability to feel pain. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient responsible for the mind-altering (psychoactive) effects of cannabis, CBD has no psychoactive properties. It recently became the focus of more research after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) loosened research restrictions in 2015.
Oral forms of CBD have already been approved by the FDA to treat seizures in children with a type of epilepsy that doesn’t respond well to other treatment. Another drug containing CBD has been approved to treat muscle tightness in people with multiple sclerosis. Budding research suggests that CBD could be beneficial for cardiovascular problems, specifically lowering high blood pressure.
In one study, healthy men took one dose of either CBD (600 mg) or a placebo (a sugar pill without active ingredients) on two separate visits. The researchers then looked at the men’s heart rates and blood pressure while they rested along with their responses to physical and mental stress. High blood pressure related to stress can be a risk factor for future heart disease. When the men consumed CBD, the researchers found that their resting blood pressure was lower and their blood pressure did not rise following the stress tests. Researchers have also found that applying CBD to one of the main arteries in the abdomen during colorectal surgery caused the artery to widen, which could help promote greater blood flow.
Despite the research, it’s still not clear whether CBD is helping the vascular system. There are many unknowns about CBD, such as what a correct dose is, its potential to interact with other drugs and how to make medications using it. Testing CBD-containing drugs in women and larger groups of people is also important—it has mainly been tested in small groups of men—before recommendations can be put in place. However, with the growing popularity among consumers to treat everything from anxiety to chronic pain with CBD, there is a new urgency to answer these questions.
Yasina Somani, MS, is a PhD student in the Cardiovascular Aging and Exercise Lab at Penn State. She is interested in studying the effects of novel exercise and nutritional therapies on cardiovascular outcomes in both healthy and clinical populations.