The Effects of Hemp on the Heart Are Multitudinous
Posted on January 29th, 2021
The production of hemp has gathered pace over the past years due to the popularity of the plant’s products. Those unacquainted with cannabis may be forgiven for thinking that hemp is marijuana. While both are classified biologically as cannabis, there are significant differences between them. The differences mainly lie in their compounds and the use of each variety. Most assume cannabis is only good for getting you high, but there are many other uses. You may be surprised to find that there is a large body of research on the effects of hemp on the heart.
Hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa L that produces a wide range of cannabinoids. One of these is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the intoxicating effect of marijuana. However, the THC levels in hemp are not as high as those in marijuana. In fact, the THC levels in industrial hemp are almost zero and using hemp products doesn’t create that intoxicating effect.
Probably the most significant cannabinoid produced by the hemp plant is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-intoxicating but potent cannabinoid. However, the hemp plant is a conglomerate of many other compounds. These include terpenes, fatty acids, and amino acids throughout the hemp plant. Some of these compounds have significant effects on bodily organs and systems. Hemp seeds also have various health benefits and are known to nourish certain body organs like the heart. Curious to find out the effects of hemp on the heart? Read on.
Effects of Hemp on the Heart
The hemp plant is rich in cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabinol (CBN). Among these cannabinoids, CBD is by far the most popular and has significant effects on body systems and organs.
Research shows that combining cannabinoids has the greatest effects as they deliver what is called the “entourage effect.” Particularly, cannabinoids have great potential in treating some cardiovascular disorders. Some of these are myocardial infarction (heart attack), atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, hypertension, and metabolic disorders.
The actions of cannabinoids on the cardiovascular system are mediated by cannabinoid 1 and cannabinoid 2 receptors 2 receptors (CB2Rs). Particularly, blocking CB1 receptors has great effect against cardiometabolic disorders. Blocking cannabinoid receptors may also be a useful way of treating atherosclerosis. On the other hand, activating cannabinoid receptors has shown some promise in dealing with cardiac arrhythmia and myocardial infarction.
CBD and Heart Disease
Probably the most popular cannabinoid, CBD has a host of potential benefits. While research has been inconclusive, studies show that CBD has the potential to prevent ailments such as heart disease. But how exactly does it work?
CBD is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. These properties have the potential to play a role in reducing high blood pressure, which can result in heart disease. CBD may also reduce the risk of other related conditions like stroke.
High blood pressure is particularly the leading risk factor of hypertensive heart disease. Blood pressure can go up due to stress, and CBD has been found to lessen that rise in stress levels. By reducing blood pressure, CBD can help lower the heart rate under stress.
CBN and Heart Disease
Another common cannabinoid is cannabinol. Like CBD, CBN has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation can be helpful for short-term conditions. But sustained inflammation irritates blood vessels and may lead to plaque growth or loosening of plaque in the arteries. This can trigger blood clots, which are the main cause of heart attack and strokes.
Like other cannabinoids, CBN is an anti-inflammatory agent and therefore has the potential to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Effects of Hemp Seeds on the Heart
Hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, also nourish the heart and reduce the risk of heart disease. Hemp seeds have a high content of omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, and other polyunsaturated fatty acids. The amount of solid research on these shows that they are beneficial compounds to cardiovascular health. They also contain all the essential amino acids, and particularly, the amino acid arginine, which is a metabolic precursor for nitric oxide (NO).
Nitric oxide is a pivotal signaling messenger in the cardiovascular system. It specifically participates in hemostasis control, fibrinolysis, regulation of vascular tone, leukocyte and platelet interactions with the arterial wall. It also aids the homeostasis of blood pressure, and proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells. Studies show that a diet that is high in arginine-rich foods can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease significantly.
Dietary hemp seeds are also rich in linoleic acid (LA). This is another essential omega-6 fatty acid, along with alpha linoleic acid (ALA) which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Alpha linoleic acid reduces inflammation, which may significantly reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease. Additionally, animal studies indicate that hemp seed oil may help reduce blood pressure. It may also reduce the risk of blood clot formation, and help in recovery after a heart attack.
Hemp seeds are also good sources of the polyunsaturated fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA) to the body. Stearidonic acid (SDA), a metabolite of alpha linoleic acid and linoleic acid, is also present in hemp seeds. Both gamma linoleic acid and stearidonic acid are known to inhibit inflammatory responses, which may significantly reduce the risk of a heart attack.
Linoleic acid in hemp seeds may also reduce heart disease risk by significantly lowering cholesterol levels. It may also prevent high blood pressure, and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Effects of Terpenes on the Heart
Terpenes are compounds that give plants their characteristic smell. So far, there are over 200 different terpenes that naturally occur in the hemp plant. Besides skin problems, rheumatic diseases, and autoimmune diseases, terpenes may have the potential to prevent some heart issues.
Studies show that terpenes have various pharmacological properties. These include antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and antispasmodic properties. Besides these properties, some monoterpenes in the hemp plant can have significant effects on the cardiovascular system. They can promote actions like hypotension, decreased heart rate, and vasorelaxation. Through such actions, these monoterpenes can be potential preventive agents of cardiovascular diseases.
Monoterpenes such as carvacrol, for instance, can cause the hyper polarization of the vascular smooth muscle and the endothelial cells’ plasma membrane, resulting in vasodilation. As a result, the heart rate reduces significantly which helps reduce the risk of a heart attack
Hemp Extract Oil Tincture
Oil tinctures from the hemp plant are common among those who want to experience the effects of hemp on the heart. The best to use a tincture is by ingesting sublingually—placing a few drops under the tongue and waiting for about two minutes before swallowing.
Hemp Extract Pills
Like any other pills, hemp extract pills can be swallowed as desired by the user. Preferably, hemp extract pills should be taken in the morning and evening before bed.
Water Soluble Drink Concentrate
Drink concentrates also present a viable way of taking hemp for cardiovascular benefits. These are best used by shaking properly and adding directly to any drink of choice.
Precaution When Using Hemp
Some concerns surrounding the effects of hemp on the heart include the possible side effects and interaction with medications. Possible side effects of taking whole hemp may include:
- Mild diarrhea
- Throat irritation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Bradycardia (slow heart rate)
Due to its interaction with medications, it is important that you avoid ingesting hemp when using cardiac glycosides and diuretics. Cardiac glycosides like Lanoxin aid the heart in beating strongly and can significantly slow down the heart rate. Hemp slows the heart rate, and this could result in bradycardia. On the other hand, diuretics like Diuril, Thalitone, and Lasix work by flushing fluids and may lower potassium levels in the body. Hemp has a similar effect, and using it together with diuretics may lead to dangerously low levels of potassium in the blood. This could affect the heart negatively.
Summary: Effects of Hemp on the Heart
Hemp is a variety of cannabis sativa and is made up of various compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, fatty acids, and amino acids. Unlike marijuana, hemp contains very low levels of THC and doesn’t have an intoxicating effect. Most of the compounds in hemp have anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, which could help prevent conditions related to heart disease. Particularly, hemp can lower the heart rate, blood pressure, and prevent clots in blood vessels. This helps prevent the risk of a heart attack, heart disease, and strokes. When using hemp for its cardiovascular benefits, it is important to consult a doctor due to its possible side effects and interaction with other medications.