Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common condition affecting nearly half of adults in the U.S. If not checked, high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, like heart attack and stroke. Unfortunately, only one in four people with hypertension have their condition under control.
While many treatment measures for blood pressure are available, there are suggestions that natural remedies, such as using CBD, can help. Generally, CBD and blood pressure have an indirect relationship, and this article highlights CBD’s effects on blood pressure.
What is CBD?
CBD is among the many active compounds of the cannabis Sativa plant. Until recently, CBD lived in the shadows of THC, its intoxicating counterpart that produces a high feel. Research studies have shown that CBD has various health benefits, including pain relief, relieving anxiety, and improving sleep.
The big question remains, does CBD lower blood pressure?
CBD is categorized into three groups: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate. Full and broad-spectrum CBD contains nearly all hemp plant extracts, such as terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. However, full-spectrum CBD is the only type that contains THC. On the other hand, isolate is pure CBD.
Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolates are available in the following ways:
- CBD Oil and Tinctures – are CBD-infused liquids. They can be taken orally or in foods and drinks.
- CBD Gummies – are a popular way of consuming CBD because of their discreet nature and ease of dosing.
- CBD Capsules – taken as pills or capsules
- CBD Topicals – applied directly to the skin for localized relief
- CBD Vapes – are designed to be used with vape pens. They are inhaled, thus producing immediate effects.
CBD’S Effects on the Body
CBD effects in the body are felt due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex network that controls several body processes.
While there’s still limited understanding of the ECS, it primarily consists of the following three components:
- Endocannabinoids – are molecules manufactured in the body.
- Enzymes – are responsible for breaking down manufactured endocannabinoids once they complete their functions.
- Endocannabinoid Receptors – include CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout the body.
Despite the limited findings, researchers argue that the primary role of ECS is maintaining body homeosis. The ECS controls several body processes, including pain, sleep, metabolism, appetite, and mood. Cannabinoids (THC and CBD) interact with the endocannabinoid system by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Can CBD Lower Blood Pressure?
THC is widely known to reduce blood pressure, making cannabis users feel dizzy after using it. However, there’s minimal understanding of how CBD influences the body and its blood pressure response. Typically, it seems both CBD and THC have the same effect of relaxing the blood vessels.
As mentioned, CBD and THC interact and influence the endocannabinoid system. THC binds with CB1 receptors and mimics the activity of the endocannabinoid anandamide. Anandamide is responsible for several body functions, including relaxing blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure.
However, CBD has different mechanisms of action. While more studies are being conducted to understand the precise mechanism of CBD, initial studies suggest it increases anandamide levels indirectly. This explains why CBD has similar benefits to THC except for the intoxicating effects.
While several studies on how CBD lowers blood pressure have been done, most have contradictory findings. For instance, one study done on nine healthy participants found that CBD lowered blood pressure for those who were resting and under stress.
Another study on mice found that CBD lowered heart rate and stress-induced blood pressure increase. However, a 2020 study in rats found CBD ineffective in reducing blood pressure but had antioxidant effects.
Therefore, while CBD certainly has cardiovascular effects, additional studies are required to understand its mechanism of action and effectiveness in lowering blood pressure.
When Not to Take CBD to Lower Blood Pressure
While CBD has a good safety profile, it can cause dry mouth, lightheadedness, nausea, drowsiness, and diarrhea. You shouldn’t take CBD oils to lower blood pressure concurrently with medications with the same side effects to avoid unwanted toxicity.
Using CBD with prescription drugs, such as opioids, antipsychotics, or antidepressants that cause sleepiness, is highly discouraged. You should also avoid using CBD if you are on diabetes drugs, such as metformin, and heartburn drugs, as it can cause severe diarrhea.
Are CBD Effects on Blood Pressure Safe?
As mentioned, CBD’s effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular disorders are not well-studied enough to make evidence-based conclusions. There are no sufficient human studies to determine if using CBD to decrease or raise blood pressure is safe. The only study that found that CBD can potentially lower blood pressure used a large dose of CBD on young, healthy volunteers.
Other studies on mice and rats were largely inconclusive. While CBD may affect rats and humans differently, individuals with hypotension and hypertension should use CBD cautiously.
Nonetheless, a WHO report found CBD to be generally well-tolerated, with an above-average safety profile and no risk for dependence or misuse.
Those who’ve used CBD to lower blood pressure have reported the following minor side effects:
- Changes in appetite and weight
However, 2012 research found that cannabinoids have biphasic effects, producing different body effects depending on the dosage. THC and CBD can increase or decrease blood pressure for those with high blood pressure, depending on the dosage.
Remember that CBD interacts with some medications, including pressure drugs. Therefore, if you are taking blood pressure medications, check your diastolic blood pressure and consult your doctor before using CBD.
CBD has been widely studied for its effects on common health issues like anxiety, pain, and skin problems. However, more studies are required to determine the safety and efficacy of CBD on blood pressure. While many people have reported its effectiveness in reducing high blood pressure and other heart conditions, there’s no solid evidence that cannabidiol reduces blood pressure.
Similarly, you shouldn’t rely on CBD alone to decrease blood pressure. Consult your doctor extensively before including CBD products in your blood pressure medication. You can support the CBD regimen with a healthy diet, exercise, and stress management.
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