Many individuals who suffer from hypertension or blood pressure issues have considered using CBD to help treat their condition. This natural extract from hemp is believed to have vasodilating properties, which promote circulation. Early research has shown that it can aid in reducing stress levels that contribute to blood pressure issues and displaying abilities that promote cardiovascular well-being. Furthermore, the antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of the cannabinoid help defend cells in the blood vessels from damage and deterioration due to oxidative stress. Additionally, its ability to support better sleep can reinforce the body’s ability to fight stress and the blood pressure problems that result from poor sleep. While studies are still limited, early clinical research suggests that CBD may have significant potential in treating blood pressure issues. This article will explore whether CBD can help with blood pressure, how it works, and the potential risks involved in using it.
- 1 What Is High Blood Pressure?
- 2 What Is CBD?
- 3 CBD’s Effects on Blood Pressure
- 4 Can CBD Reduce Blood Pressure?
- 5 Risks of Using CBD for Blood Pressure
- 6 Conclusion
What Is High Blood Pressure?
Hypertension is the term for blood pressure, which is consistently high. While some shifts in blood pressure over time are natural, elevated pressure in the arteries and veins leads to negative health consequences. Blood pressure should generally sit under 120/80 and above 90/60 in systolic pressure, considered the health range for most adults. Pressure significantly below or above this range is dangerous for cardiovascular well-being. Hypertension can lead to heart disease, strokes, chest pain, dizziness and other symptoms. It’s a leading contributor to heart attacks, which are the most common cause of death in Australia.
Blood pressure issues don’t always surface as symptoms you might notice. Many people don’t see anything unusual until it’s too late. Checking in with your doctor to confirm your systolic pressure readings and detecting any potential troubles early is essential. Prevention is much more straightforward than cure for hypertension, especially when preventative measures are taken. These can include getting more movement and exercise, managing stress, maintaining a healthy diet and keeping an average weight. Statins, blood thinners or other blood pressure medications must sometimes be used. Doctors prescribe these to help manage and lower blood pressure.
What Causes It?
High blood pressure can have many causes. Genetics may play a role, and congenital heart issues or susceptibility to hypertension are a significant risk. However, lifestyle factors are typically the primary contributor. Smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, hormone or thyroid issues, chronic stress, and poor diet can all contribute to arterial plaque accumulation and blood pressure increases. Carrying excess body weight and visceral fat are also risk factors. Sleep apnea, which is very common and affects overweight individuals at higher rates, is an additional risk factor.
What Is CBD?
CBD is a naturally occurring phytochemical sourced from the hemp plant. It is known as a cannabinoid, one of the most abundant in the plant alongside THC. In addition, there are many “minor” cannabinoids produced by hemp that occur in lower quantities, such as CBG, CBN, CBDA, and MEB. Unlike THC, which powerfully activates the brain’s cannabinoid receptors and causes a “high” or euphoria, most cannabinoids are not psychoactive. This includes CBD, which does not trigger intoxication when consumed but rather offers therapeutic calming effects for the mind. Additional benefits include mitigating inflammation, helping lower pain and aches, bolstering immunity, and aiding sleep quality.
CBD activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, providing health benefits to the mind and body through multiple pathways. These receptors comprise the human endocannabinoid system, which regulates immunity, sleep, mood, and metabolic processes. Due to its immense health-promoting advantages, it has become popular among Australians.
CBD’s Effects on Blood Pressure
In the body, CBD interacts metabolically with the endocannabinoid system. This naturally occurring regulatory system helps function the nervous, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and immune systems. It has receptors throughout the brain and CNS that modulate nerve signalling and neurotransmitter activity. These anxiolytic, cardiovascular and immune-modulating abilities potentially enable CBD to support healthy blood pressure. In particular, the research to date suggests its capacities to lower stress and help users manage anxiety are the primary methods it aids in blood pressure reduction.
Blood Pressure Studies
While the clinical research into CBD’s effects on blood pressure is limited, a handful of studies all indicated it had positive outcomes on cardiovascular health. A 2017 study of nine healthy male volunteers yielded promising results. This study looked at the effects of a single 600mg CBD dose in both standard and stressful situations. Across the nine subjects tested, CBD reduced resting systolic blood pressure by an average of 6mmHg while not affecting diastolic blood pressure.
A separate study performed in 2020 produced similar results. Thirteen healthy men were provided 600mg of CBD or a placebo daily for a week in stressful and calm situations. Subjects given CBD showed marked reductions in blood pressure. However, the benefits were reduced over the seven days due to tolerance. The effects were more pronounced when the participants were subjected to stress. This was induced by mental, exercise-induced, and cold stress. The results suggested that CBD’s blood pressure benefits were amplified for those with chronic stress symptoms, while unstressed individuals saw limited benefit when using it for more extended periods.
A 2019 Brazilian study investigated the effect of CBD on anxiety and stress associated with public speaking. The findings reinforced CBD’s ability to lower blood pressure by better regulating the stress response. The group that received a medium dose (300mg) of CBD before a stress-inducing public speaking test showed the most significant reduction in stress response, which benefits heart rate and blood pressure metrics.
While valid, these studies were biased due to being conducted on healthy individuals. Whether similar effects would be exhibited in individuals with hypertension or blood pressure problems is yet to be seen. Furthermore, the researchers typically only looked at the effects of a single high dose of CBD per day. Although promising, these studies weren’t necessarily representative of real-world applications amongst those with hypertension, who are typically much older individuals.
Can CBD Reduce Blood Pressure?
The clinical evidence suggests CBD’s most effective use in lowering blood pressure is via its stress-alleviating and anxiolytic effects. In addition, the inflammation-reducing properties it offers, in combination with improving sleep and enabling vasodilation, facilitate improvements in cardiovascular function. It shouldn’t be viewed as a treatment for hypertension, but it can undoubtedly help improve overall well-being, contributing to reductions in symptoms alongside other treatment options.
As opposed to being able to treat hypertension directly, CBD is better used to assist with underlying stress that contributes to the condition. Chronic stress is a significant factor that contributes to cardiovascular disease. It can aggravate inflammation across the cardiovascular system and heart, leading to an increased risk of hypertension. CBD helps calm the stress response, supporting lower cortisol levels and better blood pressure over time in stressed individuals. This is due to the anxiolytic effects CBD offers, enabling it to suppress anxiety and excess stress. Cortisol is the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Excessive cortisol release from stress is associated with poor sleep, suppressed immunity, and cardiovascular decline. In studies, CBD showed substantial benefits in mitigating high blood pressure among stressed individuals. Hypertension resulting from other factors like a poor diet or a sedentary lifestyle won’t see as much benefit,
CBD causes anandamide to be released in the body, which is an endocannabinoid. It is known for producing feelings of bliss and calm. Research from the Journal of Neuropharmacology indicates that endocannabinoids like anandamide may have vasodilating and blood pressure-lowering effects. Reviews of longitudinal studies on the applications of endocannabinoids for hypertension suggested they present a novel method for treating cardiovascular disorders and hypertension. A separate 2023 study explored the application of CBD in treating high blood pressure in both hypertensive and non-hypertensive subjects over five weeks. Versus placebo, daily CBD use lowered systolic, diastolic and average blood pressure among subjects. Being one of the first studies to test CBD’s effects in patients with hypertension and generating a positive reduction in blood pressure is a decisive outcome here.
There’s no doubt that chronic inflammation is detrimental to cardiovascular health. Studies have linked it directly to arterial plaque build-up and hypertension development. Inflammatory cells in the body, such as cytokines, can exacerbate arterial health decline and accelerate blood pressure increases. This occurs due to micro damage that occurs in blood vessels when they are chronically inflamed. Over prolonged periods, this damage accumulates and develops into worsening arterial stiffness or calcification.
A well-known property of CBD and other cannabinoids is their anti-inflammatory effects. Many are capable of both reversing and preventing inflammation through immune system modulation. For example, endocannabinoids produced from CBD help lower the body’s TNF-alpha and cytokine production to mitigate chronic inflammation. Additionally, CBD oil contains several important antioxidants and phytonutrients that assist cells in resisting inflammation. For example, antioxidants such as Caryophyllene and Flavonoids found in hemp extracts are known to defend cells from oxidative stress. Vitamin E and other plant nutrients like lignans further assist in bolstering metabolic health and helping to avoid hypertensive symptoms.
Poor sleep can contribute to many detrimental health effects. One of these is impaired cardiovascular health and high blood pressure. CBD can help users sleep more easily by calming them at night while improving sleep length and quality by aiding with circadian rhythm regulation. In particular, it can help those with sleep apnea or minor sleep issues avoid hypertension by promoting better sleep more regularly. A comparative study analyzed the effects of CBD on 29 patients with obstructive sleep apnoea. During sleep, the group’s blood oxygen concentrations were measured while dosed with CBD daily. Their blood pressure and oxygen were compared to a control group without medication.
The study concluded that there were positive correlations between endocannabinoid receptor activation and lowered symptoms of hypertension. The researchers made note of the positive therapeutic cardiovascular effects that endocannabinoids provided. Sympathetic activity suppression was the proposed mechanism behind these effects. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the stress response or ‘fight or flight’. By downregulating the stress response, CBD and similar cannabinoids might aid in reducing hypertension.
Risks of Using CBD for Blood Pressure
While these studies paint an optimistic picture of CBD for blood pressure, it is vital to be aware of its risks.
The most severe risk of using CBD for hypertension is combining it with other high blood pressure medications like ACE inhibitors or statins. Taking CBD in combination with these compounds may cause your blood pressure to drop too low. It may also cause liver toxicity as both CBD and these medications are processed via the liver. Specifically, this can occur due to CBD suppressing the liver’s P450 enzymes, which are used for detoxification. Consult with your doctor before adding CBD on top of any medications you’re already taking. Your doctor will help prevent health risks associated with mixing them. Remember that CBD is not a cure-all for high blood pressure.
CBD can stimulate side effects in some users, although this is rare, and they are typically transient. A risk amongst those with hypertension or blood pressure issues is that specific side effects may become more likely. In particular, the risk of experiencing dizziness, fainting or lightheadedness from blood pressure changes when using CBD is higher. Most people with hypertension have less cardiovascular resilience and may also be using other heart medications. As such, they are more susceptible to CBD’s vasodilating and blood pressure-lowering properties. Expect changes in your blood pressure when you start using it, and don’t begin until you’ve cleared it with your doctor first.
The research suggests that CBD positively impacts blood pressure but is more effective in aiding blood pressure in stressed individuals. Studies have shown that it can help lower blood pressure as a vasodilator and support reductions in chronic stress that weakens cardiovascular resilience. Complementing this are the anti-inflammatory and sleep-enhancing benefits of the cannabinoid, each of which can holistically support better cardiovascular performance and well-being. Note that the research to date on these effects is limited, and it’s best to consult with a doctor if you’re exploring using CBD for hypertension.
CBD cannot ‘clean’ the arteries or remove arterial plaque. No evidence supports these claims. Artery and cardiovascular health are complex. Many factors affect the health of blood vessels and their pressure. This includes lifestyle factors, genetics, diet, exercise, and health conditions. While CBD may have anti-inflammatory properties that help bolster arterial health, it can’t reverse arterial plaque build-up.
CBD has been found to have calming and anxiolytic properties, which may have an indirect effect on heart rate. This could be beneficial for individuals who suffer from chronic stress and experience elevated heart rates due to excessive cortisol release. However, there is currently no direct evidence to suggest that CBD has an immediate effect on slowing down heart rate. Further research in this area is required to support this potential effect.
CBD has been found to have calming and anxiolytic properties, which may have an indirect effect on heart rate. This could be beneficial for individuals who suffer from chronic stress and experience elevated heart rates due to excessive cortisol release. However, there is currently no direct evidence to suggest that CBD has an immediate effect on slowing down heart rate. Further research is required to support this potential effect. No scientific research proposes or supports the idea that CBD can remove or clear plaque from arteries. Plaque build-up is typically associated with atherosclerosis, a chronic cardiovascular disease influenced by various factors such as diet, genetics, lifestyle, smoking or alcohol use and overall cardiovascular health.
Research on the effects of CBD on blood pressure is still in its infancy but has shown positive results. While it’s too early to conclude whether it has substantial benefits in lowering blood pressure and alleviating hypertension, CBD can help reduce chronic stress and anxiety. This can significantly benefit cardiovascular health and ultimately lead to lower blood pressure in the long run. It is crucial to manage high blood pressure issues by reducing stress, engaging in daily exercise, improving your diet, and limiting the use of alcohol and tobacco. CBD should be considered as a support tool rather than a cure for hypertension. Before using it, please consult your doctor to minimize the risks of side effects and potential health complications from combining it with other medications.