Most people turn to medical marijuana for pain or anxiety relief, but what about high blood pressure? An estimated 75 million people in the United States suffer from hypertension, or high blood pressure. With most states legalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana, many are wondering if cannabis can be used to lower blood pressure.
Does Marijuana Raise Blood Pressure?
The acute effects of marijuana on blood pressure are well-documented and understood. But we still don’t know much about the long-term effects or marijuana on blood pressure. Many research findings are also generalized and focused on THC when there are numerous other cannabinoids, like CBD. The effects of a strain high in CBD are likely to be different from one high in THC.
We also don’t know much about the effects of edibles on blood pressure – or anything else for that matter.
Weed and Blood Pressure – What We Know
The only thing that we do know is that marijuana hypertension studies suggest occasional marijuana users will experience a mild to moderate increase in heart rate and blood pressure about 10-15 minutes after consumption. That effect is followed by a decrease in blood pressure.
But here’s the thing: users develop a tolerance to these initial effects over days or weeks. Repeated use has actually been linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate immediately after consumption.
Other research suggests that marijuana helps users maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Another interesting bit of research suggests that posture during marijuana consumption can influence its effects on blood pressure.
Those who use marijuana while lying or sitting may experience a temporary increase in blood pressure. Upon standing, blood pressure will drop. If you stand up too quickly, the sudden drop can be dramatic and make you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
On the other hand, if you use marijuana while standing, you may experience a drop in blood pressure without the initial spike.
There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests anandamide, the body’s own natural version of THC, actually relaxes blood vessels. Relaxing blood vessels and allowing blood to flow more freely naturally helps lower blood pressure.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published a report that concluded endocannabinoids can “suppress cardiac contractility in hypertension” and may help in the treatment of hypertension.
Researchers are still looking at ways to manipulate the endocannabinoid system to lower blood pressure. But we’re still lacking the human studies needed to say, with certainty, that marijuana can be used to treat hypertension.
Marijuana Health Risks
Marijuana offers its fair share of medicinal benefits, including anxiety and pain relief. But what about the risks?
Smoking weed can increase your risk of developing chronic bronchitis. It can also alter your memory because it changes the way your brain processes information.
A report from the National Academies found a link between frequent marijuana use and an increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
The National Academies also found evidence that marijuana use during pregnancy could result in lower birth weight.
Can CBD Lower Blood Pressure?
We know that in the long-term, marijuana may lower blood pressure. But what about CBD?
Wait – What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a special compound found in the cannabis plant, known as a cannabinoid. The cannabis plant produces more than 400 different compounds, but most of us are familiar with just two: THC and CBD.
THC is known for its psychoactive effects and that “glued to the couch” feeling.
CBD is not psychoactive.
In other words, it won’t get you high. When taking CBD, you feel none of the sensations of being stoned.
CBD can be found in marijuana or hemp plants. It’s legal almost everywhere – even in some states that have yet to legalize medical marijuana.
Studies suggest that CBD can:
Help stop epileptic seizures
Treat neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s and MS
Fight against cancer
Help with PTSD
Alleviate stress and anxiety
Now that you understand what CBD is, let’s talk about its effects on blood pressure.
CBD and Blood Pressure Studies
A study published in JCI Insight found that CBD use reduces systolic pressure. The study’s findings suggest that CBD may be beneficial in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham compared the cardiovascular effects of a 600 mg dose of CBD to a placebo on 9 healthy young males (average age of 24). The researchers monitored heart rate, blood pressure, skin blood flow and stroke volume while the participants were at rest. These same parameters were measured during stress tests hours after CBD use.
Those taking CBD saw their systolic blood pressure drop by an average of 6 mmHg during rest, and 5 mmHg before and after the stress test.
The researchers also found that CBD increased heart rate by 7 beats per minute on average and reduced stroke volume.
Other studies have found that CBD is a vasodilator, which means that it allows for greater blood flow. Greater blood flow normalizes blood pressure and reduces damage to the arterial wall.
Research has also found that CBD’s effects may be beneficial for cardiovascular disease.
Using CBD for High Blood Pressure
If your goal is to use CBD to help lower blood pressure, you have a few options. You can smoke or vape a CBD-heavy strain of marijuana, or you can use CBD oil or purchase it as CBD pills. We do not vape and do not like the idea of inhaling anything so we encourage you to use the oil as a tincture or in capsule form.
CBD oil can come from marijuana or hemp.
Hemp-derived CBD oil is legal almost everywhere, and it’s easily accessible. You also have quite a few options when it comes to dosage strength. CBDPure, for example, offers 100 (3.3 mg per serving), 300 (10 mg per serving) and 600 (20 mg per serving) strength options.
While the 600 will give you the most potent effect, you can choose the 100 or 300 if you’re a little sensitive to CBD (most people aren’t).
Hemp-derived CBD has a mild flavor and it’s easy to take.
Keep in mind that it may take some time to see results. Some people will see results faster than others, but the key most important thing is to be consistent in taking it.