CBD for Better Heart Health?

 

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death around the world, reports the World Health Organization. More people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause. In 2016, 17.9 million people died from CVDs, which represents 31 percent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85 percent were due to heart attack and stroke. [1]

As researchers continue to explore the application of cannabidiol (CBD) for a range of health issues, they are looking at this naturally occurring compound found in industrial hemp and marijuana for its cardiovascular health benefits.

Understanding CBD and the ECS

To understand how CBD can play a role in heart health, you first need to understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the network of neurotransmitters that operate in nearly every cell in the peripheral (body) and central (brain) nervous system. A properly functioning ECS ensures that cells maintain optimum performance for your health and well-being. When something in your external environment causes a cell to become out of balance, the ECS comes into play to make immediate adjustments to bring things back into balance. That balance is called homeostasis.[2] 

Cannabinoids such as CBD interact with ECS receptors to trigger the series of reactions that bring the body’s functions back into balance. In this way, cannabinoids help regulate such physiological functions as sleep, appetite, mood, immune function, inflammatory disorders, pain, movement and coordination, temperature and memory, and cognition.

 

To date, there is insufficient clinical evidence to indicate that the use of CBD on its own can cure or improve a heart condition. However, some of the key benefits of CBD may be addressing or reducing the risk factors that can result in heart disease like high blood pressure and reduce the risk of related conditions, like stroke.[3]

High blood pressure

One of the leading risk factors for hypertensive heart disease is high blood pressure. Several studies suggest that CBD can support healthy blood pressure levels. One study conducted in 2017 indicated that CBD reduced the resting blood pressure of young, healthy male volunteers who had no underlying cardiovascular or metabolic disorders. Nine healthy male volunteers were given 600 mg of CBD or a placebo in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study. The results indicated that acute administration of CBD reduced resting blood pressure compared to volunteers who received the placebo. Also, when the men were given stress tests, the ones who received CBD had a smaller blood pressure increase in response to the tests than those in the placebo group. [4]

Inflammation

Inflammation is a key component of many cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease. There is considerable research that indicates CBD can reduce inflammation. A 2016 study published in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation indicated that CBD could lower the incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic subjects, an animal model of spontaneous type 1 diabetes development.[5]  Another study reported in the European Journal of Pain investigated the effectiveness of a topical CBD gel on subjects to reduce inflammation and pain from arthritis. The CBD was applied to the subjects for four consecutive days. Results indicated a significant drop in joint swelling and signs of pain. The data indicated that topical CBD has therapeutic potential to relieve arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side effects.[6] However, more research and clinical trials are needed to understand CBD and anti-inflammatory responses in humans fully.

 

 

Cardio Protection

A study released by the British Journal of Pharmacology indicated that CBD reduced both the total number of ischemia (restriction of blood to tissues)-induced arrhythmias and infarct size (tissue death due to inadequate blood supply) administered before ischemia. This study demonstrates that CBD is cardioprotective, at least in the acute phase of cardiac ischemia and reperfusion (I/R) (restoring blood flow after a heart attack or stroke), by both reducing ventricular arrhythmias and lessening infarct size.[7]

While more research needs to be conducted, some of the CBD properties might lead to better heart health.

 

 

[1] “Cardiovascular diseases (CVD),” World Health Organization, May 17, 2017. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)
[2] Nunley, Kim, “Here’s How CBD Can Help Whether You’re Healthy Or Not,” Medical Marijuana, Inc., September 17, 2019. https://www.medicalmarijuanainc.com/heres-cbd-can-help-whether-youre-healthy-not/
[3] Chesak, Jennifer, “CBD for Heart Disease: Benefits, Side Effects, and Treatment,” Healthline, February 18, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-for-heart-disease
[4] Jadoon KA, Tan GD, O'Sullivan SE. A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. JCI Insight. 2017;2(12):e93760. Published 2017 Jun 15. doi:10.1172/jci.insight.93760. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28614793/
[5] Lehmann C, Fisher NB, Tugwell B, Szczesniak A, Kelly M, Zhou J. Experimental cannabidiol treatment reduces early pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes. Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 2016;64(4):655-662. doi:10.3233/CH-168021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27767974/
[6] Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F, et al. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain. 2016;20(6):936‐948. doi:10.1002/ejp.818 
[7] Walsh SK, Hepburn CY, Kane KA, Wainwright CL. Acute administration of cannabidiol in vivo suppresses ischemia-induced cardiac arrhythmias and reduces infarct size when given at reperfusion. Br J Pharmacol. 2010;160(5):1234-1242. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00755.x. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2936031/

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