As CBD gains traction as a mainstream wellness option, we’ve come to understand the hemp-derived compound to be a natural healing tool with immense potential. From persistent insomnia to chronic illnesses like Lyme disease, CBD may act as a powerful treatment for a variety of ailments.
CBD interacts with the body via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In turn, the ECS impacts all other bodily systems, including the cardiovascular system.
The interaction between CBD and the cardiovascular system leads many to question how the cannabinoid impacts functions like blood pressure, and more importantly, whether that interaction is beneficial. Join us as we discuss exactly how CBD affects blood pressure!
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure refers to the force of blood against your arterial walls. Blood pressure is closely related to heart rate in that every time your heart beats, it pumps blood into your arteries; however, blood pressure and heart rate are not the same things. While your heart rate measures how many times your heart beats in a minute, blood pressure measures the power with which blood flows through your blood vessels.
It is normal for your blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day as you engage in different activities and experiences. For example, your blood pressure will naturally rise when you exercise or are excited or anxious. Conversely, your blood pressure lowers when relaxed or resting. Normal blood pressure rates also change with age or certain medications.
Although it is perfectly healthy for blood pressure to shift within normal parameters, consistently high or low pressure that does not coincide with external stimuli can be problematic.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, can damage your heart, kidneys, and brain, and often occurs without noticeable symptoms. Untreated, high blood pressure can cause serious conditions like:
- Peripheral artery disease
- Enlarged heart
- Transient ischemic attack
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease
Low blood pressure, or hypotension, can also be dangerous, causing:
- Reduced oxygen that can damage heart and brain function
Blood pressure issues are typically treated with:
- Dietary or other lifestyle changes
- Regular exercise
- Reduced alcohol or nicotine intake
Many respond positively to conventional treatments, but others struggle to maintain healthy blood pressure. Additionally, some seek natural treatments after experiencing the negative side effects that can accompany prescription drug use.
How does CBD affect blood pressure?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound derived from the legal hemp plant. It is non-psychoactive, meaning it does not produce the “high” commonly associated with marijuana ingestion.
CBD influences bodily functioning and well-being by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is comprised of neurotransmitters called endocannabinoid receptors, which are found throughout the body.
There are two primary types of endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors manage short-term memory, motor functioning, pain perception, appetite, and immunity. CB2 receptors help regulate all other systems, including the cardiovascular system.
Because CBD triggers the CB2 receptors that directly interact with cardiovascular functioning, it is rational to hypothesize that CBD has some impact on blood pressure. In fact, several studies confirm this assumption, suggesting a positive link between CBD intake and blood pressure.
For example, this 2017 study found that a single dose of CBD reduced blood pressure in participants in a resting state, as well as participants under simulated stress. Stress situations here involved both mental stress and physiological stress induced by exercise.
Another 2020 study concluded that CBD may lower blood pressure in people under acute emotional stress by inducing vasodilation. Interestingly, researchers here noted that CBD’s effectiveness did not appear to be inhibited by patient age, sex, smoking habits, or comorbidities like type 2 diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
This additional 2020 study similarly observed a significant reduction in blood pressure in patients under restful and stressful states alike. This study also found that consistent CBD use over a period of seven days reduced arterial stiffness and improved overall blood flow.
Lastly, the most recent 2023 study confirmed CBD as an effective high blood pressure treatment in patients with mild to moderate chronic hypertension. The results found that CBD consistently lowered blood pressure without presenting serious side effects.
Is CBD safe for you?
As with all treatments for all conditions, your response to CBD is ultimately subjective. Your unique health journey rests in your hands, and you should feel confident when making choices that impact your wellness.
That being said, CBD has a relatively high safety profile with minimal unwanted side effects. Those who do experience adverse reactions often find that these effects accompany high doses that often occur when first experimenting with CBD.
If you are concerned about how CBD may impact you, especially if you have health complications or are already consuming other supplements or pharmaceuticals, consult with a trusted medical practitioner before adding CBD to your daily regimen.
As research into CBD’s effect on different bodily systems emerges, we’re happy to see a positive connection between the powerful cannabinoid and health conditions like high blood pressure. We hope that research continues to shed light on CBD and the many ways it may improve our health!