Can CBD Help Lower Blood Pressure?
*Despite what you might read elsewhere on the internet, no CBD product has been medically proven to prevent, treat, or cure high blood pressure. This article discusses ongoing research into the endocannabinoid system and should not be the foundation of any medical or health recommendations or diagnosis. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor.*
Elevated blood pressure is often called the “silent killer.” There are no apparent signs that would indicate something is wrong. In fact, many people do not know they have it.
Your blood pressure has two numbers. The top number is your systolic blood pressure. This tells you how much pressure your artery walls experience each time your heart beats. Your diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number. This tells you how much pressure is against the artery walls between beats when the heart is resting.
Both numbers are significant. Elevations in systolic or diastolic pressure can increase the risk of death from heart disease and stroke.
In 2017, the American Heart Association released new guidelines for blood pressure. Under the new guidelines, more people had elevated blood pressure who were previously considered healthy.
Health Conditions Associated With Elevated Blood Pressure
Under the old blood pressure guidelines, a person had elevated blood pressure when their numbers were 140/90 and greater. The change happened after a study revealed that lowering this number to 120/80 could reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure.
The initial damage from elevated blood pressure is to the heart and blood vessels. The workload on the heart increases, making it less efficient. The added pressure increases friction against the walls inside the arteries.
When combined with a buildup of plaque along the arterial walls, it causes atherosclerosis. This sets up a vicious cycle. With more plaque and damage, the arteries become smaller. This raises blood pressure and continues to cause damage to the arteries and heart.
Elevated blood pressure also damages microcirculation. These are the tiny blood vessels that feed your organs at the cellular level. When these blood vessels are damaged, the individual will have an increased risk of kidney disease, and vision loss.
The annual cost of elevated blood pressure is enough to make your blood pressure rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. spent $48.6 billion in 2015 on medications, healthcare services, and lost productivity. Under the new guidelines, nearly 45% of U.S. adults have elevated blood pressure.
The Endocannabinoid System and Blood Pressure
Researchers are seeking answers to help reduce the number of people affected and the cost to the economy. One focus of study is the interaction between the endocannabinoid system (ESC) and the cardiovascular system.
Your body has a system of receptors specifically designed for cannabinoids. Our endocannabinoid system is designed with 2 types of receptors that can be found all throughout the brain, the central nervous system, our organs, and on every single one of our immune cells. These receptor types are known as (CB1) and (CB2) receptors. Our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids, called endogenous or internal, cannabinoids known as 2-AG and Anandamide. CBD and other cannabinoids found in the Hemp plant are known as phyto or exogenous cannabinoids. The cannabinoids found in the Hemp plant are known to bind and work with the endocannabinoid receptors in the body and mimic the cannabinoids we produce naturally.
Researchers have found that cannabinoids have a complex effect on blood pressure. There is growing evidence implicating an imbalance in the endocannabinoid system with a variety of cardiovascular diseases.
There is also some emerging evidence that our endocannabinoid system plays a protective role in the progression of elevated pressure and plaque on the arteries’ walls. Researchers are hopeful that the compounds may also help to protect tissue after a heart attack or stroke.
Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a central component to the management of internal and external stress. When stress occurs inside our bodies, our blood vessels become constricted, our heart rate increases, and the pressure in our blood rises. If we stay in a high stress state for too long our bodies do not have the proper time to heal and integrate our daily experiences.
A further look at how stress affects the body demonstrated that chronic stress could induce a loss of CB1 receptors, which contributes to increasing the experience of the stress response and anxious behavior. This, in turn, can also raise your blood pressure over extended periods of time.
There is also evidence that chronic psychological stress may trigger elevated blood pressure. The relationship between the ECS and the cardiovascular system suggests that our endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in regulating our blood pressure safely and effectively.
Evidence About CBD, the Cannabinoids found in Hemp, and Blood Pressure
Although it would seem reasonable that exogenous cannabinoids found in Hemp, such as CBD, could help lower elevated blood pressure, the research evidence is not clear. In a 2017 randomized cross-over study on nine healthy males, researchers found that CBD lowered the participants’ systolic blood pressure, whether they were resting or under stress.
CBD and the Cannabinoids found in Hemp, affect blood pressure depending on how it's administered and how frequently it's used. For example, a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of more than 12,000 U.S. adults concluded that people who used cannabis daily had nearly identical systolic blood pressures as those who never used cannabis.
The most recent evidence comes from researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel in early 2021. The data seemed to indicate that medical cannabis lowered blood pressure in older adults. According to one of the researchers, this age group is the fastest-growing population using medical cannabis.
The researchers monitored the participants over 24 hours. This happened before and after they used medical cannabis for three months. The study showed there was a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. This happened whether the participants consumed cannabis orally or smoked it.
Researchers theorized that lower blood pressure might have been the result of pain relief. Yet another pathway that CBD and the cannabinoids found in Hemp may use to help lower blood pressure is by reducing cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone your body releases when you are under stress.
How Do We Consume CBD & the Cannabinoids found in Hemp?
You can swallow CBD, put it on your skin, place it under the tongue or inhale it. The two quickest ways of getting CBD into the bloodstream are by inhaling it or placing a tincture under the tongue. However, it is essential to note that inhaling hot substances can cause damage to the lungs.
The evidence appears to suggest that when our bodies have the cannabinoids they need to function then our EndoCannabinoid System can thrive and help balance the bodies systems and help our blood pressure return to a healthy level.