CBD Effects on the Cardiovascular System
Posted on August 24th, 2020
Cardiovascular disease often referred to as heart disease, is an array of issues that affect the heart and its primary blood vessels that nourish the entire body. Generally, cardiovascular disease refers to issues where the blood vessels are partially blocked or narrowed. This can result in chest pain, stroke, or heart attack. Unfortunately, there are numerous individuals suffering from cardiovascular problems due to an array of reasons, and it’s actually one of the leading causes of death in the U.S with over 600,000 deaths per year.
It is widely known that working out regularly and avoiding tobacco are some of the best ways to keep the heart healthy. But, the heart is a fragile organ that’s susceptible to numerous conditions, medications, and other factors that affect the quality of a person’s life in the long-term.
However, there might be a new option on the horizon. CBD or cannabidiol studies are revealing some positive results on inflammation and blood pressure that could point towards the use of the substance for heart health. So, what are the effects of CBD on the cardiovascular system?
The Role of the Cardiovascular System
In layman terms, the cardiovascular system is made up of the heart and a network of blood vessels, all responsible for blood circulation in the body. Together with the lymphatic system, the cardiovascular system is a part of the circulatory system.
A closer look shows that the cardiovascular system ideally supports other vital operations like reproduction in regards to hormonal control, the expulsion of salts and other substances, body temperature regulation, and transporting immune cells and antibodies.
Common Cardiovascular Diseases
Keeping in mind the crucial role of the heart, it’s not surprising that complications related to it are currently the primary cause of death by diseases in many countries. Bad habits are closely linked with the huge increase in cardiovascular problems. It’s clear that stress, diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and other factors are the leading causes of heart conditions.
The most common cardiac diseases include heart failure, angina, heart attack, aneurysm, and arrhythmia.
CBD Effects on the Cardiovascular System
Now that we have a better understanding of the cardiovascular system, just how does CBD affect it, and can it really help manage symptoms of heart disease? Let us take a closer look.
CBD or cannabidiol is one of the many compounds, also known as cannabinoids, found in the hemp and cannabis plant. Research on this compound is still in its infancy stage, but the results so far have been promising. CBD has shown the potential to help manage a wide array of conditions, including symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and many others. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t give the user vertigo or euphoria, or rather the ”high” feeling one gets after consuming marijuana.
The list of potential therapeutic applications of cannabidiol has been increasing with time, and practitioners have begun examining the relationship between CBD and its benefits in the cardiovascular system. According to an article published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 2012, CBD may directly affect isolated arteries, acting as a protective agent against the vascular damage caused by high glucose presence. But the potential benefits do not end there.
CBD Effects on Cardiovascular Disease
May Help to Manage High Blood Pressure
It is common for individuals who consume cannabis to experience a relaxing effect. This is excellent for stress levels and minimizing pressure in the heart. However, this is not because of THC, but CBD. According to various studies, CBD may be quite effective in lowering blood pressure.
In one randomized study, male volunteers were given 600mg of cannabidiol or placebo. The participants had their resting blood pressure measured before and after working out and with cold stress. Cannabidiol was seen to lower the systolic blood pressure of the subjects by about 5 points, although it ideally increased heart rate. The results were promising, but more participants and studies are needed to fully understand the effects of CBD on blood pressure.
Cannabidiol and Stroke
Stroke is a severe condition that falls into the class of cardiovascular conditions. It occurs when blood supply to the brain is hampered. The sooner a person gets treatment for the condition, the less the damage. That’s because the longer the reduced blood supply, the longer brain areas go without vital nutrients and oxygen. This can lead to severe brain damage and even death.
There are two primary causes of strokes: Hemorrhagic and Ischaemic stroke. The latter happens when blood supply stops due to a blood clot in the blood vessels, while the former is as a result of burst blood vessels.
According to a publication in the Journal of Pharmaceuticals, research shows that CBD may have antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. CBD could have potent cerebroprotective action that’s antioxidative and long-lasting. As such, it may have the potential to help an ischaemic stroke. CBD has also been shown to sustain the direct effect on the vascular system. The cannabinoid is capable of reducing tension in blood vessel walls, known as vasorelaxation.
High blood pressure is also a contributing factor to ischaemic stroke. And given the potential effect of CBD on blood pressure, it’s certainly a form worth considering, even though more studies are required.
CBD, Stress, and Anxiety
Studies also show that CBD has the potential to alleviate blood pressure in response to stress. Even though stress is often considered to be a mental effect, it can have significant physiological repercussions down the road. Long term stress is associated with cardiovascular disease development. Such stress can come from various factors, including work-life, social isolation, low socioeconomic status, anxiety, and many others.
One way stress can lead to heart disease is through blood pressure elevation. Chronic release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline can ideally be contributing factors. Studies have shown that stress can have an effect on the way blood coagulates, thus increasing the risk of a heart attack. Since anxiety is a leading factor in stress, and stress is a contributing factor to cardiovascular conditions, this might be another mechanism whereby CBD may benefit the cardiovascular system.
CBD for Myocarditis
This is a condition where the heart’s muscular tissue known as myocardium experiences inflammation. According to the British Heart Foundation, this condition isn’t caused by lifestyle factors such as diet or smoking. The organization also states that currently, there are no medical treatments to prevent the condition. Most individuals who experience myocarditis recover with few to no complications. However, in some cases, the inflammation can be so severe that it leads to heart damage.
The primary causes of myocarditis are bacterial, fungal, and viral infections as well as autoimmune diseases. The condition’s symptoms can manifest as tightness or pain in the chest, breath shortage, flu-like symptoms, heart palpitations, and difficulty breathing.
Studies have shown that cannabidiol may be able to help the condition. According to a 2016 paper published in the Molecular Medicine journal, studies were done on the effects of the cannabinoid on myocardial inflammation, dysfunction, and remodeling in animal models of autoimmune myocarditis.
The study results showed that CBD use substantially reduced autoimmune myocarditis and ideally improved heart failure and myocardial dysfunction. CBD showed these results mostly due to its potential antifibrotic and anti-inflammatory effects. The research concluded that CBD holds great potential for myocarditis.
Myocardial Ischemia and Arrhythmia
Ischaemia is an inadequate blood supply to organs, particularly heart muscles. This condition, in terms of the heart, can result in irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. A slower than normal heartbeat is referred to as bradycardia, and tachycardia refers to a faster than normal heartbeat. Irregular heartbeats are known as fibrillation or flutter.
Since blood transports oxygen and essential nutrients throughout the body, the lack of it can lead to necrosis or cell death. When ischemia results in a lack of blood to the heart, it can lead to an infarct. An infarct is a small localized region of dead tissues caused by a lack of blood supply.
CBD may be able to provide cardioprotective effects in regard to a lack of blood flow to the heart and ischemia. According to a paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, acute CBD administration may reduce infarct size when it’s administered at reperfusion and suppresses arrhythmias induced by ischemia.
In addition to producing tissue-sparing effects, CBD ideally shows antiarrhythmic effects.
Research on CBD is still early, however, its effects on the cardiovascular system may show promise. It is important to keep in mind that the best cannabidiol products contain high CBD content and low THC. Be sure to check labels for a THC content of 0.3% or less. As such, ensure you do your homework and purchase from a reputable company. A reputable company will provide a certificate of analysis from third-party lab testing. And as always, be sure to consult your doctor before trying out any CBD product. This is especially important if you are taking medication or have a medical condition.