In the United States, the risk of contracting a plague-like, infectious disease is quite low. But while communicable diseases are relatively controlled, new modern epidemics are at an all-time high. One of these new health threats is hypertension, or chronically elevated blood pressure.
This common health issue affects tens of millions in the United States alone. And while pharmaceuticals offer a range of solutions, many consumers are looking for a more natural approach.
Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component in hemp and cannabis, is swiftly becoming a modern day cure-all. But is CBD oil truly a cure-all — or just another kind of snake oil?
If you’re wondering about whether CBD can help lower your blood pressure, this article is for you.
About CBD Oil and High Blood Pressure
Cannabidiol can be used as an alternative treatment for high blood pressure.
In the short-term, CBD administration consistently reduces blood pressure.
Just the Facts
While blood pressure is lowered after a single dose of CBD, more research is needed to determine whether CBD may serve as an effective treatment for chronic hypertension.
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What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is a dynamic and measurable vital sign within all humans. The numbers in a blood pressure reading indicate the amount of pressure applied by blood flow onto the internal network of veins in the human system.
This pressure will rise and fall throughout the day as your body responds to physical, emotional and environmental stimuli. Though it frequently changes, there is a normal range in which the pressure should fall most of the time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about one-third of American adults have blood pressure that consistently falls well above the normal range. This condition of chronically elevated blood pressure is known as hypertension, and it can wreak havoc on your health.
Hypertension is often a precursor to cardiovascular disease. According to the CDC, high blood pressure contributed to 410,000 deaths in 2014. Additionally, hypertension and its downstream effects are estimated to cost Americans almost $50 billion per year.
Pharmaceuticals are the main go-to for pulling blood pressure numbers back into the normal range. As with most prescription drugs, though, these come with their own set of side effects. Common blood pressure medications can cause electrolyte imbalances, dizziness, fatigue, muscle weakness, and even impotence.
If you have high blood pressure, one of the most meaningful measures that you can take is to implement lifestyle changes. Diet, exercise, and stress management can significantly improve blood pressure. And in turn, that can reduce the risk of a more severe health event.
But these changes — while the best choice for health and longevity — take commitment and time to see results.
Does CBD Oil Lower Blood Pressure?
This may be good news for hypertension patients who are in the market for alternative treatments.
At this time, however, there have not been any trials testing the effect of CBD on chronic hypertension. These effects are promising, but as a hypertension treatment, the use of CBD is only speculative and anecdotal.
While the research is not yet to the point of specific protocol development, some individuals have taken their health futures into their own hands.
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Anecdotal Evidence for Using CBD
“This last year my blood pressure was so high it would average around 178/114,” she remembers. Normal blood pressure comes in at 120/80, so Taylor’s reading was significant and dangerous. She turned to a different kind of remedy after conventional medications were unable to control her condition.
“I started taking CBD oil under my tongue. As I increased it, my blood pressure went down until I had it around 120/80,” she said. “My doctor told me he had heard that CBD can lower blood pressure, but after seeing and observing me very closely he said I no longer have to take the pills he prescribed.”
Taylor is now off her blood pressure medications, but continues to use CBD.
Looking for the cold, hard evidence? Below, we’ve gathered a few of the most relevant studies on CBD oil for blood pressure.
2017: CBD Reduces Blood Pressure in Healthy Adults
A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study.
Researchers in this randomized, crossover study observed that a dose of CBD reduced blood pressure in a healthy group of male adults.
After the blood pressure reduction was observed, the participants were placed under two different types of stressors – exercise and cold. Typically, these stressors cause a significant increase in blood pressure.
While the participants under the CBD administration experienced a rise in blood pressure after exposure to the stressors, it was significantly less than that demonstrated by the placebo group.
The researchers concluded that CBD may prove to be effective at reducing the impact of stress on blood pressure, potentially reducing the rates of health complications due to hypertension. More studies must take place before this can be put into clinical practice.
2019: CBD and Stress-induced Blood Pressure Changes
This 2019 Brazilian study looked at several CBD dosages and their effect on the stress and anxiety related to public speaking. CBD has known anxiety-reducing properties. This study’s aim was to investigate whether low (150 mg), medium (300 mg), and high (600 mg) doses would produce a typical bell curve of effects.
Because anxiety intensity can be measured with vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure, this study provides an indirect look at the effect of CBD on blood pressure.
The data in this study showed that the placebo, low CBD, and high CBD groups all had similar reactions to the anxiety-producing condition of public speaking. The medium-dose CBD group, by contrast, experienced a notably reduced stress response to the stressful environmental factor.
Overall, there is likely an optimal dosage for stress, anxiety, and blood pressure control. Even CBD is subject to the law of diminishing returns, where an increase in the dosage produces better results only to a certain point.
2012: CBD and the Cardiovascular System
Researchers in this 2012 review paper discuss the changes CBD has been shown to elicit in the heart, blood and vascular system.
The study acknowledges anxiety reduction and vasodilation — the increase in vein diameter — as well established effects of CBD. The study also mentions the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics of CBD. All of these factors can positively impact blood pressure.
Concerns about Using CBD for Blood Pressure
These early studies shed an optimistic light on the potential use of CBD as a treatment for hypertension. At this point, however, not enough is known to conclusively determine that CBD is an effective treatment for the condition. These studies used single doses in healthy individuals or animal models. Assuming the results will be the same for long term use in ill individuals would be an inappropriate conclusion.
Jon Marsh, a cannabis activist, warns that in some cases blood pressure may actually drop too low, particularly with full spectrum products combining CBD and THC. “THC lowers blood pressure, usually across the board. So, just be aware of it; too low is not good.”
While the future may hold novel solutions for hypertension, there are already several natural and healthy treatments currently available. Your best bet for safely managing high blood pressure may include the following lifestyle changes:
- improving your diet
- stress management and reduction
- daily activity
- reducing or eliminating tobacco and alcohol.
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