Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the most well-studied aspects of cannabis. The initial research on CBD suggests that this cannabinoid may have a range of health benefits, including potential benefits for blood pressure. Below, we’re going over everything the current science can tell us about how CBD may affect your blood pressure.
Understanding Blood Pressure
To explain how CBD may affect blood pressure, we’ll first give a primer on what blood pressure is, what it says about your health, and what normal blood pressure looks like.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure level that your blood makes when it pushes against the walls of your arteries, which are the valves that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body.
When a doctor measures your blood pressure, they’ll look at two pressure levels: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure that occurs in your arteries each time your heartbeats. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure that occurs in your arteries in between your heartbeats.
A blood pressure reading records both of these pressure readings, with the systolic number written over the diastolic number. For example, if your systolic blood pressure measurement is 120 and your diastolic measurement is 80, a doctor would record it as 120 over 80 or 120/80 mm Hg.
What Does Blood Pressure Mean For Your Health?
Your blood pressure reading is an indication of your heart health. When your blood pressure is higher than the normal level, that indicates that your heart is working harder than it should be. High blood pressure, or hypertension, may eventually cause health problems, including heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. When your blood pressure is lower than the ideal range, this is called hypotension. Hypotension can be a sign that your heart and body do not have enough oxygenated blood, which may indicate an underlying health condition.
Note that hypertension is more common than hypotension, especially in the United States. The CDC estimates that nearly half of all adults in the United States have hypertension.
What is the Normal Blood Pressure For People?
In adults, a normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mm Hg and above 90/60 mm Hg. Both the top and bottom numbers of your blood pressure reading should be within these ranges for a normal reading.
How Can CBD Affect Blood Pressure?
Some studies suggest that CBD may reduce high blood pressure and the blood pressure stress response. For example, one 2017 study looked at how a single dose of cannabidiol would affect resting blood pressure and blood pressure stress response in humans. They found that the acute administration of CBD both reduced resting blood pressure and blunted the blood pressure stress response of the participants.
The aforementioned study didn’t expressly investigate how CBD may have reduced the blood pressure of its participants, but other researchers have theories. There are various studies that show CBD may help reduce other things that contribute to higher blood pressure. Anxiety, excessive inflammation, chronic pain, chronic stress, and low quality sleep can all lead to increased blood pressure. There are studies that suggest CBD may reduce anxiety, reduce inflammation, ease pain, reduce stress, and improve sleep, so some theorize that this could allow CBD to also lower blood pressure.
Some scientists suggest that one of the most well-studied effects of CBD, it’s potential anti-inflammatory properties, may be a main reason CBD could lower blood pressure. Numerous studies have found that CBD has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, recent research has shown that CBD doesn’t just reduce inflammation in things like the joints and the muscles, but also in the heart and blood vessels. Reducing excessive inflammation in the heart and blood vessels can allow blood to flow more freely through the body, which in turn decreases blood pressure.
What are the Cardiovascular Effects of CBD?
So, if there’s some evidence that CBD may lower blood pressure and decrease blood pressure stress response, does that mean CBD is good for heart health? There really hasn’t been enough research to answer this question. There’s no link between CBD and worsened heart health, but there’s also no conclusive evidence that CBD oil, CBD extract, CBD topicals, or other CBD products can improve heart health.
Because some studies have suggested that CBD has vasodilating properties and stress reducing properties, some people have speculated that it may reduce the risk of certain health conditions that are linked to high blood pressure and high stress levels. However, there haven’t been any studies done on this topic, so we don’t know if CBD’s properties could be good for these medical conditions.
There’s also been some speculation the potential vasodilating and stress relieving properties of CBD may help stroke patients. There’s a bit more evidence for this theory, as there are two scientific reviews that have explored the idea.
A 2010 review found that CBD may provide a “long-lasting cerebroprotective effect after ischemic stroke,” which is a stroke caused by a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood to the brain. The review concluded that “CBD offers new therapeutic possibilities for treating ischemic stroke,” but also noted that “further clinical studies are needed to definitively evaluate the clinical values of CBD.”
A 2017 review had similar findings. Their review found that CBD reduced blood pressure and heart rate in stressful conditions, and increased cerebral blood flow during mouse models of stroke. However, like the 2010 study, this more recent study noted that “further studies are required to fully understand the potential haemodynamic effects of CBD in humans under normal and pathological conditions.” So, as these two reviews say, there are animal studies that suggest CBD could potentially help stroke patients, but we definitely need more research to know for sure.
Does CBD Oil Have Psychoactive Side Effects?
Many people who are thinking of trying CBD for the first time are worried about psychoactive side effects due to CBD’s association with THC. However, CBD has absolutely no psychoactive effects. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may both be cannabinoids that are found in cannabis plants, but they have some important differences. And perhaps the most notable difference between CBD and THC is that THC causes psychoactive effects, while CBD does not.
A Note on Smoking and Heart Health
If you’re concerned about your heart health, remember that inhaling smoke of any kind is not good for the heart. Heart-conscious people who want to use CBD may want to consider using a smoke-free consumption method. Some smoke-free ways to consume CBD include CBD oils, CBD tinctures, CBD edibles, and high CBD cannabis edibles.
CBD Oil and Blood Pressure Medications
If you take blood pressure medications, should you use CBD oils or other CBD products? You should definitely talk to your doctor before combining CBD and blood pressure medications, especially if your blood pressure medication has a grapefruit warning.
Some medications have a warning about eating grapefruit because this fruit can block the action of certain enzymes (CYP450) that break down medications. Like grapefruit, CBD can also block the action of CYP450 enzymes. Essentially, the way grapefruit and CBD block these enzymes can affect how much medication is in a person’s body, making their dose either too weak or too strong.
Additionally, as a general rule, know that you should always speak to your doctor before you try new holistic remedies or supplements. Over-the-counter products can sometimes interact with prescription medications or even each other. Always ask your doctor if taking an over-the-counter product for health purposes is right for you.
Is Cannabidiol FDA Approved For Treating Blood Pressure?
The research on CBD and blood pressure is still in its very early stages, so CBD is not FDA approved for treating blood pressure. There are also no official dosing guidelines available on using CBD for blood pressure, so there’s no approved dose of CBD for treating blood pressure.
If you hear or read somewhere that CBD is FDA approved, the source is likely talking about a drug that’s unrelated to blood pressure: Epidiolex. Epidiolex is currently the only FDA approved drug that contains CBD. Epiodolex is approved to treat two rare epilepsy disorders: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. It’s also approved to treat tuberous sclerosis, which is a rare genetic disease that causes benign tumors to grow in vital organs.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil and Blood Pressure
There’s some evidence that CBD may reduce high blood pressure and the blood pressure stress response, but we still need more research on the topic to understand exactly how CBD affects these medical conditions. Cannabis research and CBD research are fields that are still very much in their infancy, and there simply haven’t been enough human trials on how cannabinoids affect blood pressure. So, for now, we’ll have to wait on more research to know for sure whether or not CBD can treat high blood pressure.