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CBD for heart and circulatory health: Is cannabidiol good for the cardiovascular system and blood flow?

Medical research claims that cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound extracted from cannabis and hemp plants, has cardioprotective, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects. According to one study, cannabidiol can quote: “CBD treatment has a protective role in reducing the effects of cardiac ischemia and reperfusion, or in reducing cardiac dysfunction associated with diabetes. Similarly, CBD has a protective role in reducing the ischaemic damage in models of stroke partly due to maintaining cerebral blood flow.”

That implies that the chemical may have a role in the management or prevention of heart-related issues for healthy persons and persons living with diabetes or other heart-related conditions. What are the signs of heart problems? and what can you do to prevent or manage heart conditions using CBD? Below is what you need to know. 

Quick take: CBD for heart and circulatory health.

  • The FDA has not approved CBD as a treatment for heart-related issues. But limited medical data indicates that the compound may have uses in the management of heart-related issues.
  • CBD is not psychoactive.
  • CBD may protect stroke patients from brain damage.
  • Avoid buying back-alley CBD products as they may contain harmful contaminants. 
  • Travelling with CBD outside the US may lead to legal issues. 

How does CBD help with heart problems?

Current medical data says that CBD does not have any effect on heart failure. However, there is evidence that suggests that cannabidiol can improve vasorelaxation, that is the reduction of tension/stress in the vascular system, and it may open arteries encouraging better blood flow.

The chemical can also reduce pain anywhere in the body and reduce inflammation when taken orally or applied topically.

What we do know about CBD and heart failure is –according to one study, persons who use marijuana, on average, have a lower risk of death and hospitalization. Marijuana refers to the plant as a whole. Meaning the effect could stem from CBD, THC, and the other 400+ chemical compounds found in hemp and marijuana. 

There are conflicting studies. Meaning more research is needed on cannabis’s effect on heart health.

Are there risks I should be aware of before using CBD

According to medical experts, CBD may interact with heart medicines, including nitrates, statins, calcium channel blockers, and blood thinners. Because of that, if you are on heart medication -it is in your best interest to consult with a physician before CBD consumption.

It is also advisable to avoid back-alley products as they may contain unhealthy contaminants, including preservatives, heavy metals, pesticides, and so on. 

What to remember

  • When mixed with alcohol, CBD may cause drowsiness. 
  • CBD’s effect on the brain is different from THC, but both compounds may have uses in the management of heart conditions.
  • CBD which contains 0.3% THC, is legal across the country.

How can CBD improve heart health?

The commonality between coronary heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure -is that all the said conditions may originate from inflammation. What happens is inflammation in the lining of the patient’s valves or heart, tissue surrounding the heart or heart muscle -strains the heart leading to arrhythmia/irregular heartbeat. 

If left unchecked, inflammation may lead to heart problems mentioned above. 

What causes inflammation in the heart or arteries?

Myocarditis is a condition characterized by inflammation in the middle layer of the heart. Common causes for myocarditis and valve inflammation could be viral or bacterial infections, medication, or other causes. Without treatment, myocarditis may weaken the heart, blood clots may form -and that may lead to a heart attack. 

The problem with myocarditis and other heart problems is some patients do not show any symptoms until the condition progresses. Consequently, if you experience any of the following symptoms, it could be time for a checkup. 

  • Unexplained chest pain and fatigue.
  • Lightheadedness and feeling like you may faint.
  • Shortness of breath during activity or when at rest. 
  • Arrhythmia/irregular heartbeat.
  • Headaches, body aches, joint pain, fever, or sore throat. 

The condition may resemble a heart attack, so if you experience rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and explained chest pain, you should contact a doctor immediately.

How CBD may help manage myocarditis

CBD is not a cure for myocarditis. But it can help manage or prevent the trigger because of its anti-inflammatory effect. 

There is evidence that CBD has uses in the management of the following heart conditions. 

CBD for high blood pressure and hypertensive heart disease

A healthy adult heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute when at rest. For health reasons, you want your heart to maintain that rate. But an underlying illness, stress, inflammation, or other issues may affect heart health. 

According to the British Pharmacological Society, CBD can quote, “The results suggest that CBD can attenuate acute autonomic responses to stress and its delayed emotional consequences by facilitating 5-HT1A receptor-mediated neurotransmission.”

That implies that CBD can help hypertension patients maintain a healthy heartbeat. 

If you have high blood pressure, CBD should be part of the treatment. Consequently, for it to work effectively, you must combine consumption with:

  • Limiting or abandoning the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Quit smoking. Nicotine is bad for your cardiovascular health.
  • Exercise to maintain a healthy body weight
  • Get enough rest. 
  • Limit stress and anxiety. 

CBD and hypertension

The main causes of hypertension are stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety episodes cause temporary spikes in blood pressure, and long term anxiety may cause heart problems. 

CBD’s anxiolytic and sedative effects may help users get better sleep and manage stress. 

Can CBD help prevent strokes?

If you have heart disease, your risk of suffering a stroke is higher.  A stroke occurs when something -say a blood clot- blocks blood flow to the brain. The symptoms include trouble walking, understanding, or speaking. One may also experience paralysis or numbness in the face or limbs. 

A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that:

“CBD has the following unique therapeutic profile: 1) a cannabinoid receptor-independent mechanism, 2) long-lasting Cerebro- protective effect after ischemic stroke, and lack of development of tolerance. Moreover, CBD has almost no side effects, including psychotropic activity. Preliminary studies highlight the fact that the multifunctional actions of CBD may lead to benefits in more complex systems within the brain after ischemic stroke.”

More studies are needed to verify these claims. What we do know is medical research says that CBD is Cerebro-protective, meaning that consumption may protect stroke patients from brain damage. Consumption may also boost brain function.

What are the side effects of taking CBD if you have heart issues?

According to the World Health Organization and other respectable health bodies, pure CBD is safe for human consumption and poses zero risk of addiction or dependence. 

Unlike opioid painkillers, there is zero risk of overdosing on the chemical.

At high doses or depending on the carrier oil, the side effects users may experience include fatigue, diarrhea, and weight and appetite changes. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause the “munchies,” meaning it may help you lose and maintain a healthy weight and by extension, improve heart health. 

Is CBD a cure for heart problems?

If you have a heart problem or if you are at risk, you may use CBD as a preventative measure, or you may use it to manage the condition. The compound offers users benefits, including:

  • Stress, anxiety, and depression management. 
  • Synthetic versions are in use in the treatment of epileptic seizures -meaning that the chemical can prevent brain damage in persons with epilepsy or stroke victims. 
  • PTSD management. 
  • CBD is useful in the treatment of opioid addiction, and it can counter the side effects of THC. 
  • CBD is non-psychoactive and thus will not cause a high.
  • Pain management anywhere in the body.

How to use CBD to manage or prevent heart problems

Because of cannabis’s ranking as a schedule 1 substance, what we know about CBD’s effect on heart health is limited. Consequently, you should consult with a doctor before consuming CBD to treat or manage an existing condition.

What you want to avoid includes:

  • Taking too much or too little (zero risk of overdose, but overconsumption may cause mild side effects mentioned above).
  • Interactions between CBD and heart medicines, including blood thinners.
  • If you have hypotension, avoid consuming CBD until your heart rate normalizes or a physician approves use. 

That said. CBD comes in a wide variety of products, including pills, tinctures, gummies, and other consumables. 

Overall, CBD is not a cure for heart disease. But it is useful in management. Also, you do not need a prescription to purchase CBD products that contain less than 0.3% THC in the US.  If you intend to travel outside the country, it is in your best legal interest to not travel with cannabis extracts.