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Can CBD Help Lower High Blood Pressure?

Posted by Lewis Olden on
Woman testing her blood pressure

There are millions of people around the world who suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension, which are both serious medical conditions. Both high blood pressure and hypertension dramatically increase the risk of heart disease and the chances of having a stroke. Heart disease and strokes are one of the leading causes of death in the UK. It is estimated that only 25% of the population have their blood pressure under control. 

Natural remedies like cannabidiol (CBD) have the potential to help manage high blood pressure. However, the relationship between CBD and high blood pressure is not simple and there still needs to be a tremendous amount of research carried out to understand the definitive relationship.

What is Hypertension?

Blood pressure is the term to define how much force blood exerts on the vessels as it passes through them. Blood pressure is typically measured in units named millimetres of mercury (mmHg). 

Blood pressure is subclassified as either systolic or diastolic. The systolic reading measures the force on the blood vessels when the heart muscle contracts, whereas the diastolic blood pressure readings measure the force when the heart muscle relaxes.


When a person is suffering from hypertension, the force of the blood on the vessels become greater than usual and this increases the risk of strokes and heart disease.

Those with high blood pressure may be able to control their condition by making healthy lifestyle choices and implement changes where necessary. However, if you are diagnosed with stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension, then it is likely that you will need to be prescribed medication. 

The table below, shows what is considered normal, elevated and high blood pressure:

 

Classification

Systolic (mmHg)

And/Or

Diastolic (mmHg)

Normal

<120

And

<80

Elevated

120-129

And

<80

Stage 1 Hypertension

130-139

Or

80-89

Stage 2 Hypertension

>140

Or

>90

  

Hypertension is often described as a silent killer, as very few symptoms are obvious until a serious problem arises. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that you have regular check-ups to ensure that your blood pressure is not dangerously high.

In seriously bad instances, a hypertensive emergency can happen as a dramatic increase in blood pressure which can be life threatening. A hypertensive emergency can cause symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Chest Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in heartbeat
  • Problems with vision
  • Extreme fatigue

If you ever experience these symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical attention urgently.

What is the Cause of High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure can increase naturally as you age, and your artery walls become less elastic. However, there are several other risk factors that can cause hypertension to develop:

  • Ethnicity
  • Family medical history
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Tumours
  • Obesity
  • Thyroid disfunction

Some other controlled variables that can cause high blood pressure are:

  • High salt diets
  • Low potassium intake
  • Lack of exercise
  • Sleeping problems
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Drinking too much coffee
  • Smoking

What are current popular treatment options for high blood pressure?

As is the case with the vast majority of chronic conditions, pharmaceuticals are the go-to treatment option for most. While they do, as empirically researched data suggests, revert blood pressure numbers into a more normal range, they do also come with their own set of side effects.

Many of these side effects can actually exacerbate the symptoms of the condition. This can occur in a number of ways, including weakening muscles, causing dizziness, fatigue and electrolyte deficiencies.

While CBD does represent a genuine alternative to the aforementioned traditional pharmaceuticals, there is no doubt that the most effective measures one can take to lower their blood pressure is to identify the cause of hypertension.

This may well lead to some fundamental lifestyle changes in a variety of areas, including diet, exercise and stress management. Although this can be an arduous process, making such changes will likely get to the root of the problem and engender positive, lasting change more effectively than any medication. 

Does CBD Lower Blood Pressure?

CBD is one of over one hundred cannabinoids and one of the active compounds that is derived from the cannabis plant. CBD is often overshadowed by THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive compound within the cannabis plant and causes the user to get ‘high’, whereas CBD does not get you ‘high’.

There is some research that indicates that CBD has great potential for treating various conditions, so can it work for hypertension and high blood pressure?

There have been studies undertaken that have resulted in evidence that THC can lower blood pressure. This reduction in blood pressure is what causes some cannabis users to experience dizziness. However, there is less understood about how CBD can reduce blood pressure.

The interaction is likely due to how cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system and CB1 and CB2 receptors, as well as endocannabinoids. When cannabinoids bind with the CB1 or CB2 receptors, they impact a range of physiological processes that help maintain a state of balance in the body. CBD and THC can influence the endocannabinoid system.

THC is known to bind with CB1 receptors and replicates the activity of an endocannabinoid named anandamide. Anandamide relaxes blood vessels which can lead to a decrease in blood pressure.

CBD behaves differently when interacting with the endocannabinoid system and it is still not definitively known what the precise mechanism is. However, it appears that CBD binds with CB1 and CBD2 receptors to indirectly increase anandamide levels.

Therefore, CBD produces many of the same benefits as THC without the intoxicating side effect. CBD works discreetly in there body rather than overstimulating the endocannabinoid system.

 

Clinical Studies Investigating CBD’s Effect on Blood Pressure 

A study conducted in 2021 found that cannabis is associated with blood pressure reduction in older adults. This was conducted via a 24 hours ambulatory blood pressure monitoring study.  

A study that was conducted in 2020 implied that CBD may affect rodents and humans in different ways. While the study concluded that CBD interacted with the CB1 receptors in rats, this may not be the same in humans.

An earlier study in 2015 tested CBD on human abdominal cells. The study found that CBD did indeed influence CB1 receptors and other types.

Additionally, a 2019 study conducted in Brazil, investigated how different CBD doses impacted the anxiety levels triggered by public speaking. The low dose was tested at 150mg, medium at 300mg and high at 600mg. 

Anxiety is one sign of increased heart rate and thus blood pressure. This study in particular gives an idea of the CBD dose required to have an impact on hypertension. The results suggested that the medium dose produced the optimum response to stressors – in this case, public speaking.

A comprehensive 2017 study conducted by Jadoon, Tan and O’Sullivan analysed the potential of CBD in reducing blood pressure among healthy subjects – in this case, healthy male adults. 

The method of the study involved asking participants to experience two different types of stressors that cause stark increases in blood pressure. One group of participants took 600mg of CBD before this. 

Although the CBD group also showed an increase in blood pressure, it was substantially less compared to the control group who were given a placebo. These results suggest that CBD may well have the potential to reduce the side effects caused by hypertension. 

A 2009 study on rats constrained them for 60 minutes in order to create a stressful situation that increased blood pressure and heart rate. The researchers found that a single 20mg dose of CBD lowered their blood pressure and heart rate.

While further and more specific human research is required in order to draw definitive conclusions, there is no doubt that early signs highlighted by existing research, mainly animal studies, are positive.

Can CBD raise blood pressure?

This is a question often asked by those who are looking to use CBD for the first time, specifically those with high blood pressure already. 

Although research on this particular subject can be difficult to find, a 2017 meta-analysis of existing studies into CBD and blood pressure, declared that CBD did not impact heart rate or blood pressure under normal circumstances. However, as outlined above, evidence suggests it is more likely to lower both heart rate and blood pressure in stressful situations.  

That said, there should be a note of caution for those are dealing with intraocular pressure (IOP). A 2006 pilot study revealed a temporary increase in intraocular pressure (which is related to blood pressure) after a 40mg dose of CBD.

Consequently, those with high intraocular pressure should discuss using CBD with their doctor or GP before first use.

Potential risks and pitfalls of using CBD to lower blood pressure

As outlined above, the initial research surrounding CBD as a treatment option for high blood pressure is extremely promising.

That said, it is always important to be aware of relationships between existing medication and CBD. Due to the novel nature of CBD as a genuine therapeutic option, research into its relationship with certain pharmaceuticals is still lacking.

This makes it imperative to consult with your doctor or GP prior to taking CBD.

Aside from this, the only other risk to mention is whether you are using products that contain THC. THC can cause acute increases in both blood pressure and heart rate immediately after consumption. This is typically followed by a decrease in blood pressure shortly after.

In the UK, all legal CBD products must contain no more than 0.2% of THC, which is negligible and will have no impact on the user. As long as you are buying from a reputable source, such as Cannacares, who offer independent third-party lab reports with all products then you can rest assured there will be no meaningful THC involvement.

 

CBD Dosage – How much CBD should I take for reducing blood pressure?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits all answer when it comes to CBD dosage, and this is a very personalised aspect. Clinical guidelines are lacking, and individual differences play a major role in dictating optimal dosing. These include:

  • Weight
  • Metabolism
  • Diet
  • Tolerance
  • Severity of your symptoms.

While many studies use substantial doses, such as the Brazillian study into public speaking from 2019 that is referenced above (up to 600mg), this is not financially viable for the vast majority.

On the contrary, other studies such as the one investigating intraocular pressure that was previously referenced, state that a 40mg dose had a significant impact.

It is always recommended to start low and work your way up until you can feel the CBD working. In terms of a starting point, many medical experts suggest that a range of 1-6mg per 10lbs of weight is sufficient.

This means that if you weigh 100lbs, 10mg would be a low dose and 60mg would be a high dose. Start somewhere around the lower end and work your way up.

Alternatively, you could also use our handy and free CBD dosage calculator that can provide dosage recommendations in seconds, based off a few short questions.

Depending on your choice of delivery method, it can take up to 90 minutes for the effects to be felt. The time taken to feel the effects of each delivery methods are as follows:

Conclusion

If you suffer from high blood pressure, it may well be worth trying out CBD and seeing how it works for you. It may be worth monitoring your blood pressure while you use CBD to see if you experience any positive effects. 

When selecting a CBD product to use to try and treat your high blood pressure it is important to ensure you are purchasing from a reputable brand that you can trust. It may also be worth examining the various methods of consuming CBD. For example, CBD patches can be an amazing and convenient way for you to use CBD.

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