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How does cannabis affect blood pressure?

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Contents

  1. Does marijuana lower or raise blood pressure?
  2. What are the cardiovascular effects of cannabis?
  3. Weed and blood pressure medication
  4. Other effects of weed on blood pressure

Since smoking a joint can lead to a relaxing high, you might wonder about cannabis use and its effect on blood pressure. We know that weed can make your eyes red , but does it also raise or lower blood pressure, or does it not have any effect at all? If you have high blood pressure, is marijuana safe to consume?

Here we’ll address how smoking weed, including medical marijuana, could factor into your blood pressure levels.

Does marijuana lower or raise blood pressure?

To answer this question, we should focus on two of the primary cannabinoids present in cannabis : cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both may exert an influence on blood pressure levels.

Dr. Bonni Goldstein, a medical adviser to Weedmaps and the director of Canna-Centers in Lawndale, California, outlined the potential effects of THC on blood pressure:

“THC can affect blood pressure depending on the dose, the route of administration, a person’s experience with THC, and a person’s underlying health. Healthy volunteers that took THC had an increase in heart rate and decrease in blood pressure. In studies where people used THC while lying down, they had elevated blood pressure. When they stood up, their blood pressure dropped and they experienced low blood pressure.”

These sudden drops in blood pressure, also known as white outs or green outs, may indeed be linked to cannabis use. Dr. Melanie Bone, a board-certified OB-GYN and cannabis specialist who practices in West Palm Beach, Florida, told Weedmaps that “cannabis may cause a drop in blood pressure on standing — known as postural hypotension.” This type of drop in blood pressure is not desirable, as it can cause vertigo and even fainting. So, when we talk about “lowering blood pressure,” we do not necessarily consider that effect beneficial to health.

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Both THC and CBD may lower blood pressure in different ways. However, neither CBD nor THC should be considered a medical treatment for high blood pressure. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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medical cannabis

And how does CBD affect blood pressure? The consensus is that CBD tends to relax the blood vessels and decrease anxiety, which ultimately leads to a lowering of blood pressure. This type of blood pressure reduction is more favorable, as it is associated with decreased levels of anxiety. Both THC and CBD may lower blood pressure in different ways. However, based on available research, neither CBD nor THC should be considered a medical treatment for high blood pressure.

What are the cardiovascular effects of cannabis?

Another frequently asked question about cannabis and cardiovascular health is: can weed cause a heart attack?

First, let’s again distinguish between the cannabinoids THC and CBD. For example, CBD oils containing trace levels of THC may have very different effects than smoking a high-THC strain of marijuana. Various studies have indicated that THC may have detrimental effects on cardiovascular health, whereas CBD could be helpful to the heart.

Goldstein added, “CBD does not appear to have the same risks for the heart as THC and in fact, appears to be somewhat cardioprotective.” To support this assertion, Goldstein cited a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in which researchers concluded that CBD has therapeutic potential in treating complications of diabetes, as well as some cardiovascular disorders. Most notably, CBD could reduce inflammation, a condition that can ultimately damage the blood vessels, arteries, and vital organs. So, if you apply CBD oil to your skin or swallow a few tablespoons, the impact could differ greatly than if you smoked a blunt.

To this point, there is some research that suggests smoking THC could directly or indirectly lead to a heart attack. One 2019 study titled “The Cardiovascular Effects of Marijuana: Are the Potential Adverse Effects Worth the High?” and published in the Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association showed that some people experienced a heart attack within an hour of smoking cannabis.

Bone, however, argued, “On careful study, many of the patients also smoked cigarettes and were obese, making it hard to draw absolute conclusions. Also, the observations were made on cannabis of unknown origin, not cannabis from a dispensary.” The fact that the cannabis did not come from a registered dispensary is significant, as there is no available lab testing to determine what other compounds may have been present.

The bottom line is that there have been studies demonstrating a questionable association between smoking weed and having a heart attack, and more research is necessary.

Weed and blood pressure medication

You might also be wondering, what if you’re smoking weed while taking blood pressure medication? Will there be an adverse reaction? If you are smoking THC-rich cannabis and taking medication for high blood pressure, the answer is that there could be.

Goldstein explained, “Smoking cannabis can be harmful for those with heart disease or hypertension since the smoke contains carbon monoxide. This gas binds to the hemoglobin in red blood cells, displacing oxygen off of the red blood cells which results in less oxygen going to the body’s tissues, including the heart. People with heart disease or high blood pressure should avoid smoking.”

Instead, Goldstein recommends other methods of cannabis use, such as sublingual tinctures or edibles, which she says are safe to use if someone is on blood pressure medication. Further, Bone stressed that people who use cannabis and are on blood pressure medications need to be mindful of the possibility of an interaction with other prescription medications. This means monitoring blood pressure and reporting any dizziness to your doctor, who can adjust your dosages accordingly.

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People who use cannabis and are on blood pressure medications need to be mindful of the possibility of an interaction with other prescription medications. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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weed and medication

In particular, the blood thinner warfarin was shown in a 2017 study published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior Case Reports to interact with cannabidiol (CBD) in certain epileptic individuals . In line with Bone’s advice, researchers concluded that patient lab work should be monitored closely.

While it is possible for warfarin and other medications to interact with cannabis, there are no guarantees, and the 2017 study focused on patients with epilepsy rather than on the general population. As Dr. Bone reported, “In my private practice, I have not encountered a significant negative interaction between blood pressure medication and cannabis.”

Other effects of weed on blood pressure

There may be other effects of marijuana on blood pressure that health practitioners have yet to discover. All potential effects depend on the individual’s existing health problems, especially co-morbid conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

Can people without these conditions safely indulge in marijuana? A healthy individual’s body may appear as a well-oiled machine, but Bone disputes that analogy, pointing out that, “Unlike a car, where we replace the brakes or tires, the heart never gets a vacation and the blood vessels need to keep working forever. And the nervous system, which directs the show like a conductor, is on duty 24/7.”

Moderation, then, may be key in integrating a cannabis regimen into your healthcare plan. Consult with your physician before you begin using cannabis or CBD products and discuss any medications you are currently taking.

Learn how cannabis affects blood pressure and what questions you should ask your doctor before starting a regimen.

Does CBD Oil Lower Blood Pressure? What the Research Says

With stress in the U.S. on the rise, it’s no wonder more than half of Americans suffer from high blood pressure.

woman wearing jean jacket filling a dropper with CBD oil, black CBD oil bottle

CBD oil has been hailed as a cure-all for a variety of conditions, but what do researchers have to say about CBD oil and blood pressure?

Does CBD oil lower blood pressure, or is it an unfounded claim? Is it possible to skip the burdensome doctors’ visits and expensive trips to the pharmacy?

We wouldn’t go that far. Hypertension is a risk factor in heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Even though it’s common, it’s a serious issue which require medical attention.

However, there are many steps you can take to naturally reduce your blood pressure, one of which may be by using CBD oil for hypertension.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. As blood is pumped through your blood vessels, they undergo a degree of force. If you have high blood pressure, this force can damage the walls of your blood vessels, veins and arteries.

When you visit the doctor, you’ll usually hear your blood pressure described by two numbers, like 120/70.

The first number refers to the systolic pressure, the pressure exerted when the heart contracts and pumps blood into the arteries. The second is the diastolic pressure, measured when the heart muscle relaxes between beats. In cardiology, a systolic pressure of 140, and/or a diastolic pressure of 90, is considered the boundary between normal and high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular complications such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm and heart failure. The condition is exacerbated by type 2 diabetes, stress, anxiety, inflammation, high cholesterol levels, insomnia, a diet high in salt, and alcohol and tobacco use.

Lowering High Blood Pressure: CBD and Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can be naturally lowered by reducing stress, salt intake, and consumption of alcohol and tobacco. You can also lower your blood pressure by exercising regularly and eating more fruits and vegetables.

Your doctor may prescribe medications that can lower blood pressure. Many of these medications, such as calcium channel blockers and ACE-inhibitors, cause side effects like headaches, dizziness, constipation and swollen ankles. That has naturally sparked interest in non-prescription treatments for high blood pressure.

New evidence links CBD to a decrease in blood pressure. For many people, CBD oil has fewer side effects than prescription medications, too.

We spoke with Rebecca Park, registered nurse and founder of RemediesForMe.com, who told us that CBD oil tinctures made using hemp have very few side effects and are generally well tolerated.

If you are already on high blood pressure medications, however, consult your physician before using CBD oil as there may be interactions.

What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, which is a cannabinoid found in the two forms of cannabis, marijuana and hemp plants.

Commercially-available CBD oil is cannabidiol extracted from the hemp plant, often mixed with coconut or hemp oil. Unlike its marijuana-derived counterpart, this CBD oil does not contain high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so cannabidiol does not get you high. Instead, most users report that it makes them feel relaxed and calm, among the other generally positive effects of CBD.

According to federal law, hemp-derived CBD oil is classified as having less than 0.3% THC, making it legal to purchase and use. And since hemp has minuscule amounts of THC content, CBD oil from this type of cannabis plant does not cause any of THC’s intoxicating side effects. Marijuana-derived CBD oil, whether it’s derived from sativa or indica-dominant plants, contains more than 0.3% THC as its primary active ingredient, and may make you high. It is only legal in states with recreational or medical marijuana legalization.

Though it comes in a wide variety of forms such as capsules, vape juice, powders, topical patches and lotions, and edibles like gummies, cannabidiol is most popularly consumed as a sublingual oil. You simply place a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue and let it sit for 30 to 90 seconds.

Pharmacology research has shown a wide range of potential benefits for cannabidiol. CBD oil is commonly used to treat or supplement treatment of medical conditions like chronic pain, inflammation, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. Park added that CBD oil is also commonly used by people suffering from a wide range of mental disorders.

“CBD can be effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, anxiety related insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” she said.

Additionally, emerging evidence shows that CBD may use the same mechanism to treat high blood pressure as it does to reduce anxiety.

How CBD Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System and Body

The endocannabinoid system is a biological system in your body that allows cannabinoids to send and receive messages that control most of the body’s important functions. In fact, your body naturally produces cannabinoids every day.

This system has two main endocannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2. THC binds directly to the CB1 receptors, affecting areas of the brain that influence memory, motor coordination and time perception, and to the CB2 receptors which affect the pain centers in your brain and manage inflammation in the body. The interaction between THC and the endocannabinoid system is what causes the psychoactive side effects that marijuana is best known for.

On the other hand, cannabidiol does not directly bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, it causes a number of indirect actions leading to therapeutic benefits, such as activating TRPV1 receptors that regulate pain, body temperature, and inflammation.

Does CBD Oil Lower Blood Pressure?

While Park told us that high blood pressure can be caused by a number of factors, CBD oil appears to lower increases in blood pressure caused by stress and anxiety.

She explained that when emotional or physical stress is high, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol can raise blood pressure.

“CBD lowers blood pressure by reducing cortisol levels and dilating blood vessels, allowing more blood flow and leading to lower blood pressure,” Park said.

Park pointed to a study of 11 participants that showed CBD oil may lower the levels of cortisol produced in the body. This study showed that volunteers saw a significant reduction in cortisol production when given 300 mg and 600 mg of CBD compared to the placebo control.

In a famous 2017 randomized crossover study led by British doctor Khalid Jadoon and published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), a single dose of 600 mg of CBD oil or a placebo was administered to nine healthy volunteers. The resulting data showed that acute administration of CBD reduced resting blood pressure compared to placebo dosing.

The patients were then given a series of stress tests to increase heart rate. Those who were given 600 mg of CBD had lower stress-induced blood pressure spikes than the control group.

It’s amazing, but it’s true. A single dose of cannabidiol lowered the blood pressure of patients, whether they were resting or under stress.

The sample size of these studies was small and further research is required to establish whether CBD has a role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders, but the results are promising.

How CBD Can Help With Hypertension

As Park explained, high blood pressure can be caused by many factors. Fortunately, there are several health benefits of CBD that could indirectly help with hypertension.

Anti-Anxiety

Anxiety can lead to rapid heart rate and palpitations, leaving you at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

CBD oil has been shown to reduce anxiety in animal studies by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA). This study demonstrated that symptoms that accompany anxiety, like high blood pressure and rapid heart rate, were improved by use of CBD.

Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation doesn’t only occur in your joints. In fact, research shows that CBD oil can reduce inflammation in the heart and blood vessels in the brain.

Called a “vasorelaxant” by researchers, CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties may lower blood pressure by allowing the free flow of blood through your heart, arteries and veins.

Analgesic Properties

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), acute pain can lead to high blood pressure. Because CBD acts on the pain receptors in the brain, the pain-relieving properties of CBD could lead to decreased blood pressure.

CBD Improves Sleep

As CBD reduces stress, you may see an increase in your quality of sleep and general wellness.

Sarah Polansky, owner and developer of the CBD brand Prismatic Plants, told Public Goods that “The more you take CBD and help to regulate your adrenals, the less likely you’ll feel fatigued as your body returns to a state of balance rather than constant stress.”

She added, “This means your need for caffeine consumption could decrease and your quality of sleep could improve, which has a waterfall benefit for increasing overall health.”

Choosing CBD Oil for High Blood Pressure

No prescription or documentation is needed for CBD oil. The only exceptions are the marijuana-derived CBD oil sold in dispensaries (in medical marijuana states, you’ll need a patient card to buy it) and a medication called Epidiolex, a CBD medication only available by prescription to patients suffering from some forms of childhood epilepsy.

All of the forms of CBD that you can buy over the counter are not generic products. Their effectiveness depends largely on the quality of the manufacturer producing it, and the type of CBD that’s used.

Many of the cannabidiol products you’ll see in CBD stores or online are of lower quality, since – as with any product – it’s more expensive to produce high-end merchandise and it sells for a higher price, often with lower profit margins for the vendors.

High-quality CBD oil, capsules, topicals, juice for vaping, or edibles will always produce a better result, so it’s best to do a little research to find reputable vendors who create effective products. Look for oil sourced from Colorado or West Coast organic hemp, extracted with high-end methods (like supercritical CO2 extraction), and containing only a small number of natural or organic ingredients required for flavoring or distributing the cannabidiol (the latter is done via MCT coconut carrier oil in high-quality CBD).

Some cannabidiol delivery methods work more slowly than others.

Capsules and edibles, for example, must make their way through the digestion process before the CBD can be released into the blood stream and carried throughout the body. Vaping or administration under the tongue make the cannabidiol available almost immediately, since it’s absorbed quickly by the sublingual glands or tissues in the lungs. And topical CBD usually doesn’t even make it into the bloodstream, since it’s blocked by the epidermis.

When shopping for CBD oil, you’ll find there are three different types to choose from.

  • Full-spectrum CBD is the most effective. It contains all of hemp’s natural terpenes and flavonoids, as well as all of the cannabinoids in the plant – including the small amount of THC we’ve mentioned. They all work together in the so-called “entourage effect” that boosts CBD’s performance.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD provides a slightly lower entourage effect, because the THC content has been removed from the cannabidiol before it’s processed and sold.
  • CBD isolate goes a step further. All of the components of hemp except cannabidiol are removed, leaving only pure CBD in the final products.

Some people believe that pure cannabidiol does the most good, but in reality, there’s only one reason to avoid CBD that contains THC: it eliminates any chance of turning up dirty on a drug test for marijuana. In reality, very few full-spectrum CBD users ever test positive, but some people’s minds are set at ease by knowing there’s no THC in their body.

What’s The Best CBD Dosage for High Blood Pressure?

Because the FDA has not approved over-the-counter CBD products, there is no official recommendation for a dose of CBD. The right dose depends on your weight, genetics, sex and medical history. More studies need to be conducted with human subjects to get an accurate dosage.

Many CBD oils come in dropperful (1 ml) doses of 10 mg/ml. Cannabidiol affects different people, particularly based on the weight, metabolism and body type. However, Park said the effective therapeutic dose is usually in the range of 20 mg to 300 mg, or 2 to 30 dropperfuls.

In a 2018 study, researchers found that a dose of 300 mg was most effective for reducing anxiety in a simulated public speaking trial. Participants who took 150 mg or 600 mg did not receive the same benefit.

Meanwhile, in the previously-mentioned study of nine healthy volunteers, blood pressure was effectively lowered with a single dose of 600 mg.

The best way to determine how effective a dose of CBD will be for you is to start small and frequently check your blood pressure using an electronic cuff. Write down the dose you took and the time you took it, as well as your blood pressure reading. Over time, you should be able to obtain a clearer picture of what dose will help you achieve low blood pressure.

Park noted that, “If CBD works for you, without the use of other medications, I would say it is a great and safe alternative.” CBD may not be a replacement for exercise and a healthy diet, but it is nice to know you might be able to lower your blood pressure with a few drops of oil under the tongue.

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CBD oil seems to be a cure-all for many ailments, but does it lower high blood pressure? Here’s what research says about CBD and hypertension.