CBD, short for cannabidiol, is increasingly used as a health and wellness supplement. Anecdotal evidence from CBD users often touts it as an alternative to traditional medicine for relief from ailments such as inflammation, anxiety, pain, and even high blood pressure.
However, there is still a lot of confusion and questions regarding CBD’s efficacy in treating some of these ailments, particularly high blood pressure You might be wondering, can CBD lower blood pressure? Or is it just another unfounded claim? This post aims to answer these questions and more in detail.
Before we delve into this topic and the research that has been undertaken on it, it is important to first define what high blood pressure is.
What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure, or hypertension as it is known in medical terms, is a serious health condition. In the UK, one in three adults suffers from high blood pressure. It is also the third biggest risk factor for all diseases, after poor diet and smoking. According to Blood Pressure UK, hypertension is responsible for more than half of all heart attacks and strokes. It is a risk factor for heart disease, vascular dementia, and kidney disease.
Blood pressure is a measurable, vital sign that is observed in all humans. It changes throughout the day, based on different physical, emotional, and environmental stimuli around you. Blood pressure is usually described in the form of two numbers. These numbers indicate the amount of pressure that is being applied when the blood is pumped through your blood vessels.
The first number indicates systolic pressure. It is the pressure applied when your heart contracts and pumps blood into the arteries. The second number refers to the diastolic pressure, which is measured when the heart relaxes in between beats. According to the NHS, high blood pressure is considered to be a reading of 140/90mmHg or higher.
High blood pressure and health complications
High blood pressure can lead to a variety of cardiovascular complications such as:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
Moreover, this condition is exacerbated by factors such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol levels
- Salt-rich diet
- High alcohol and tobacco use
The traditional route to handling high blood pressure is to take medications prescribed by your doctor. However, many of these medications, like ACE-inhibitors and calcium channel blockers, can cause side effects. These include dizziness, headaches, constipation, and swollen ankles. These side effects are a reason why many people are turning away from prescription medicines towards more natural approaches, such as CBD.
Can CBD lower blood pressure?
The short answer is, maybe, it has the potential to lower blood pressure. Some studies suggest that CBD could cause a modest drop in blood pressure. CBD is one of the many cannabinoids found in the hemp plant which acts upon the body’s endocannabinoid system. It causes several indirect actions that lead to therapeutic benefits. One such action is activating the TRPV1 receptor that regulates inflammation, pain, and body temperature. CBD thus has potentially strong antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.
In a 2008 study, researchers subjected rats to a stressful situation that caused their heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Administration of CBD lowered both the heart rate and blood pressure in the rats.
Research also shows that CBD can lower blood pressure by reducing the body’s cortisol levels and dilating the blood vessels. This allows more blood flow, thereby leading to lower blood pressure. Cortisol is a hormone released more frequently in times of high emotional or physical stress.
CBD oil and blood pressure
CBD oil particularly appears to lower increases in blood pressure caused by anxiety and stress. This is one of the reasons why CBD oil carries a cautionary statement that it may be unsuitable for pre-or post-operative patients.
CBD oil has a high concentration of CBD content and can be taken sublingually (a few drops under the tongue) via a dropper or mixed in food and drink.
A recent study with 11 participants indicated that CBD oil may lower cortisol levels in the body. The participants were observed to have significant reductions in cortisol production when administered 300 mg and 600 mg of CBD in comparison to placebo control.
In a famous 2017 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), a single dose of 600 mg CBD oil or a placebo was given to nine healthy volunteers. The findings were that as compared to placebo dosing, the acute administration of CBD reduced the resting blood pressure levels.
In the next stage, the volunteers were given a series of stress tests to increase their heart rate. Those who were given 600 mg of CBD exhibited lower stress-induced blood pressure spikes as opposed to the control group.
These results are truly remarkable. A single dose of CBD lowered blood pressure in volunteers, irrespective of whether they were resting or under stress.
Even though the findings are promising, it should be kept in mind that most of these studies have a small sample size and are limited in number. Therefore, there is a need for more extensive research on this topic.
CBD and high blood pressure
One of the ways CBD lowers high blood pressure is by dilating or widening the blood vessels This allows more blood to flow through, despite any plaque deposition on artery walls.
In 2017, an in-depth review of 25 previously conducted studies assessed the use of CBD oil on hemodynamics (the dynamics of blood flow). This review concluded that while the data from human studies was limited, CBD may potentially be used as a treatment for several cardiovascular disorders, such as stroke, myocardial infarction, and hypertension.
How can CBD help high blood pressure?
Many different factors play a part in causing hypertension. Fortunately, CBD’s several potential health benefits could indirectly help with reducing high blood pressure. The following are some common CBD effects on blood pressure:
- Reduces inflammation:
Your joints alone do not suffer from inflammation. In fact, recent research indicates that CBD oil can help reduce inflammation that occurs in the blood vessels in the brain as well as the heart. CBD oil is often termed a ‘vasorelaxant’ by researchers. This is due to CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties, which may help lower blood pressure by allowing the blood to flow more freely through your veins, arteries, and heart.
- Analgesic (Pain- relieving) properties
Acute pain can result in high blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Since CBD acts on various pain receptors in the brain, these pain-relieving properties of CBD could help lower high blood pressure.
Anxiety can trigger a rapid heart rate and palpitations, leaving you at risk for hypertension and heart disease.
According to one recent study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, researchers observed that a dose of 300mg of CBD was most effective in treating socially triggered anxiety. The study was designed as a public speaking test, where subjects were given doses of CBD ranging from 160 to 600mg. The control group was given a placebo.
The researchers closely monitored the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as subjects’ mood states on the Visual Analogue Mood Scale. The study concluded that 300 mg of CBD was an optimal dose in reducing anxiety related to public speaking.
Moreover, various animal studies have also shown a similar dosage of CBD to be effective in treating symptoms of anxiety.
- Helps improve sleep
As CBD directly helps in reducing stress and anxiety, you may observe an overall increase in the quality of your sleep and general wellbeing. CBD might help regulate your adrenals, making you feel less fatigued as a result. Moreover, once your body is more relaxed and out of a state of constant stress, you might notice that your need for caffeine consumption could decrease. Your quality of sleep could improve as a result, which has a direct effect on your general wellness.
Dosage of CBD for high blood pressure
If you have hypertension, you should speak to your doctor before starting CBD. CBD may cause unintended interactions with your current blood pressure medications.
Moreover, if you are already on medication to lower blood pressure, CBD could actually cause your blood pressure to drop too low. Low blood pressure can have its own health complications, so it’s best to consult your doctor before trying any CBD product.
That being said, there is no official recommendation for CBD dosage. It varies from person to person and depends on factors such as your:
- Medical history
- Reasons for taking CBD
It is always best to start off slow and build up the CBD dosage with time. Generally, an effective therapeutic dose of CBD is within the range of 20-300 mg or 2-30 dropperfuls of CBD oil.
The best way to determine CBD dosage for high blood pressure is to monitor your blood pressure levels when you take CBD. Over time, you will be able to get a clearer picture of what dosage suits you best and helps you achieve low blood pressure.
In conclusion, the answer to the question, can CBD lower blood pressure?; is yes, it most likely can. As discussed above, many studies show how CBD’s potential therapeutic health benefits can bring this about. However, more research needs to be conducted to definitively prove this.
On an ending note, it is important to consult your doctor before you start taking CBD oil or any other CBD product.
If you liked reading this, be sure to check our other blog: The Ultimate Guide To CBD