High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common yet potentially serious condition that affects about 75 million American adults. Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States
If you’ve been around the news lately, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about the increased interest in CBD products and their use for a wide variety of conditions including pain relief, inflammation, depression and anxiety. CBD has been shown to elicit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects all thanks to its ability to interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
With all the purported health benefits of CBD, can CBD lower blood pressure? In this article, we will look at the potential therapeutic activities of CBD in lowering blood pressure and supporting the health of the cardiovascular system.
CBD and the endocannabinoid system
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the numerous chemicals in the cannabis plant. It is non-psychoactive and does not interfere with the normal function of the brain or produce life-threatening side effects. It interacts with the ECS receptors to deliver several health benefits in the digestive, circulatory, immune, endocrine, nervous and the musculoskeletal system.
The ECS, on the other hand, is responsible for controlling cognitive activities such as hunger, pain-sensation, hormonal balance, rest and sleep. It has receptors (CB1 and CB2) scattered all over the body. These receptors can interact with the phytocannabinoids (a large group of plant-based chemicals extracted from the cannabis plants) or endocannabinoids (in-dwelling cannabinoids produced and released by the body) to coordinate cognitive responses.
Understanding the cardiovascular system
Also known as the circulatory system, or vascular system, the cardiovascular system consists of organs and tissues (mainly the heart, veins and arteries) that permits blood to move around the body and transport nutrients, hormones, blood cells, carbon dioxide, oxygen to and from cells in the body. This transport system is mainly responsible for the nourishment of the body and helps in stabilizing temperatures, fighting diseases, regulating pH, and maintaining internal balance (homeostasis).
The force of blood pumped and squeezed throughout your arteries and to other parts of the body, creates a pressure on the blood vessels receiving the blood and is commonly regarded as your blood pressure. The pressure exerted by the pumped blood on the arteries goes a long way to determine the health of your cardiovascular system and other health challenges in the long run.
High blood pressure may lead to several health-related issues including stroke or heart attack, heart failure, dementia, trouble with memory or understanding, metabolic syndrome, weakened and narrowed blood vessels in the kidneys, and narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. The commonly utilized treatment measure for high blood pressure is centered on the use of prescription medications, lifestyle changes and other natural remedies.
CBD and blood pressure research
The activity of CBD on the cardiovascular system has been reported in a small number of studies. In one of such research works published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, it was discovered that CBD had beneficial effects on the reduction of blood pressure. The research recruited nine male volunteers who were exposed to different levels of treatments. At the end of the experiment, all nine male volunteers used in the practical experienced a 6 mm Hg reduction in blood pressure after the administration of 600mg of CBD.
The researchers found that CBD may be effective at lowering blood pressure and potentially reducing the number of health issues caused by hypertension.
Additionally, a 2012 research paper examined the potentially postive benefits CBD may have on blood pressure and the heart vascular system including:
Anxiolytic and analgesic effects
CBD has been reported to possess anxiolytic and analgesic effects which help in reducing anxiety. Its ability to boost brain function without any psychoactive effect can check the prevalence of anxiety-induced high blood pressure. High blood pressure can be triggered by acute pain which increases sympathetic activity in the body. This is mostly common among the elderly and those with salt-sensitive hypertension. The analgesic effects of CBD plays essential roles in pain reduction and control.
Stress and high blood pressure are inseparable. There is a long term positive relationship between cardiovascular diseases and stress. Factors such as depression, anxiety, social isolation and low socioeconomic status can accelerate the establishment of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. The interaction of CBD and the ECS receptors can trigger the release of feel-good hormones to keep the body relaxed. Its antidepressant activities also aid in relieving stress and promoting a sense of calm.
Improved mental health
Mental stress can induce myocardial ischemia in patients who have coronary artery disease. CBD may trigger the production of new brain cells (neurogenesis) and play vital roles in maintaining mental health. A mentally stable brain will mean better control and coordination of body functions.
Although these small studies have reported positive effects with CBD and lowering blood pressure, it’s important to note that no specifc research, to date, has studied the effect of CBD on individuals with hypertension. Additional studies are needed to verify the validity of these findings before CBD can be considered as an effective treatment for this condition. However, the anedoctal evidence indicates that CBD may reduce blood pressure and potentially assist people living with hypertension in managing stress and chronic pain.
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