February is American Heart month, dedicated to bringing awareness and attention to our cardiovascular health. Accumulating evidence suggests that cannabinoids such as CBD may be beneficial to our cardiovascular system. However, research is complex and there is overlap when considering cannabinoids and cardiovascular health, as there are multiple effects that can come from various cannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is distributed throughout our cardiovascular system and endocannabinoids have shown to play a role in response to cardiovascular disorders through several studies. Two key endocannabinoids that have been identified in our ECS are Anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). They have been associated with mediating hypotension, reducing blood pressure, vasorelaxation, and decreasing cardiac work. In addition, endocannabinoids have been connected to decreasing the risk of developing cardiac arrhythmia. Through these studies we can recognize the role of endocannabinoids as largely protective of our cardiovascular system and bodies in general.
Understanding the roles of endocannabinoids in our cardiovascular health, has led researchers to look into exogenous cannabinoids and potential health benefits as well as potential health risks. Targeting the ECS offers fresh insights to how cannabinoid therapy may benefit specific conditions.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been researched for the many ways it may benefit our heart health, some of the most notable therapeutic actions of the molecule are the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some cardiovascular conditions and diseases that are associated with inflammation and oxidative stress are diabetes, cardiomyopathy, stroke, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, and hypertension. The therapeutic potentials of CBD are why it is being considered in research for the prevention and treatment of these conditions and diseases. In addition, CBD has particularly gained momentum because it does not appear to have effects on resting blood pressure or heart rate, rather it has shown in vivo to reduce the cardiovascular response to various stress types.
While inflammation and oxidative stress are known to have direct effects on our cardiovascular system, studies have shown a correlation between long-term stress and the development of cardiovascular disease as well. Factors including social isolation, socioeconomic status, depression, stressful family/work life, and anxiety are all associated with a potential increased risk in developing and progressing cardiovascular diseases. There is evidence from animal studies that CBD modulates the cardiovascular response to stress. While data found in humans is very limited, at least one study has shown that acute administration of CBD reduced the blood pressure increase to stress in humans, associated with increased heart rate.
While research is promising when considering CBD and cardiovascular health, we are limited in terms of clinical data to speak to the full therapeutic potential of phytocannabinoids like CBD when it comes to heart conditions or preventing heart conditions. It is also important to note that various cannabinoids of the cannabis plant may have multiple effects on the cardiovascular system. Just as endocannabinoids may act to increase or decrease blood pressure and heart rate, different phytocannabinoids can replicate those same actions. For example, while THC may stimulate systolic blood pressure, CBD may reduce blood pressure. Risks and benefits do need to be further explored and, at this time, almost all studied risks of cannabis are based on users of inhaled combustible smoke.
Join our research!
Realm of Caring and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have developed the Observational Research Registry (ORR) to better understand medicinal cannabis use and its impact on key health outcomes including healthcare utilization, chronic pain, anxiety and depression, caregiver burden, epilepsy, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our registered clients provide critical information that leads to important insights into the therapeutic capabilities of medicinal cannabis. The ORR helps us develop client educational resources and may ultimately serve to legitimize the medicinal use of cannabis.
The Realm of Caring Foundation specifically invokes the first amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press without prejudice. These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. The products discussed are not intended to diagnose, cure, prevent or treat any disease. Realm of Caring always recommends when and wherever possible that licensed local healthcare professionals be consulted.
The Realm of Caring Foundation is an independent nonprofit with its own governing board. We do not produce or sell cannabinoid products, nor do we receive funds from the sale of other company’s products.