So, why are we talking about CBD on a heart supplement website? CBD is everywhere these days. It can be found in just about any form—as an oil, a gummy, a cream, a patch, or even a bath bomb. And the claims about CBD can be just as endless. But what about CBD and your heart health? Does it have potential to help your heart?
We’re looking at what the research says. Before you take CBD, we want you to know the benefits, risks, and reliable studies behind the claims.
Keep in mind, however, that CBD is different for anyone; it may work for you, it may not. But if you have high blood pressure, find it hard to get to sleep, or suffer from heart-pounding anxiety, then CBD could be worth a try.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid, a compound found in the cannabis plant. It is extracted and made into various forms (oils, edibles, and topicals). CBD affects us because it interacts with what is called the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (or ESC) refers to a system of cannabinoids and their receptors within you. (“Endo” literally means within the body.) But it can still receive cannabinoids that come from other places, such as plants.
The ESC is responsible for keeping many of your body’s functions in check, including mood, appetite, pain reception, and sleep. When CBD enters your body, it can send signals to your body through the ESC. This often produces a calming or relaxing effect. Contrary to what people might fear, it does not cause a psychoactive high like its relative THC (found in marijuana). And it is why people often take CBD to help them sleep or to reduce anxiety.
CBD and Heart Health
May Lower Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls. High blood pressure can damage your blood vessel walls over time. It can cause plaque to break away and form a clot, leading to heart attack or stroke. Thankfully, there are things you can do to lower your blood pressure, including taking CBD.
One study demonstrated that even a single dose of CBD can lower blood pressure. Healthy male volunteers were given either a dose of CBD or a placebo. After consumption, tests showed that CBD decreased resting blood pressure and blood pressure in response to stress.
Saoirse O’Sullivan, associate professor at the University of Nottingham, confirms that CBD can lower blood pressure. In her research collected from animal and human studies, she found that CBD can cause the blood vessels to relax and open. And it improves your inner blood vessel walls and how they function.
One study showed that CBD lowered blood pressure, but only in part. When you get your blood pressure taken, you hear two numbers, one over the other. The top number is called systolic blood pressure (your blood pressure when your heart beats); the lower is called diastolic (blood pressure when your heart rests). The study showed that CBD lowered systolic blood pressure but didn’t affect diastolic blood pressure. However, some help might be better than none.
Remember CBD is just one method of lowering blood pressure. There are other natural ways to manage blood pressure, like exercise, nutrition, and supplements. Talk with your doctor before starting CBD, especially if you are taking a blood pressure medication.
Can Fortify Against Diabetes
Diabetes can be dangerous for your heart health. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessel walls over time. Diabetes can also lead to ischemia—when a group of tissues or an organ is deprived of oxygen (this can lead to mental decline, heart attack, or stroke).
From her research, O’Sullivan also stated that CBD can relax and open blood vessels and improve inner blood vessel function in rats with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers at the State University of Maringa in Brazil looked at how CBD affected diabetic mice. They found that CBD had a positive impact by increasing plasma insulin (the hormone that breaks down sugar). CBD especially helped lower blood sugar in the mice that had suffered from oxygen deprivation (or ischemia).
One study examined a mouse model with Type I diabetes. They noted that the diabetes was associated with increased oxidative stress, inflammation, cell death, and fibrosis. The mice were given CBD. Researchers found that the CBD has therapeutic potential for these complications of diabetes.
Studies on CBD and diabetes are mostly animal studies so far. Further research is needed and those with diabetes should talk with their doctor before starting CBD. But the results are encouraging—this could be a new frontier for fighting diabetes.
May Improve Sleep
Poor sleep does more than make you tired. It can also be detrimental for your heart health. Lack of sleep has been linked with high blood pressure, possibly because sleep help your blood regulate stress hormones. Without that, stress rises, and so does blood pressure.
People use CBD to get to sleep more quickly, stay asleep, and be alert the following day.
A series of animal studies showed that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in your sleep cycle called NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement). The animal studies showed that CBD can help increase time and stability in the NREM cycle.
A case study involving 72 adults with anxiety or poor sleep examined the effects of CBD. Sleep improved for 67% of the patients within one month. However, after the first month, results fluctuated. This might mean that people should take CBD on an as-needed basis.
To help your heart, you need plenty of quality sleep. If you struggle with sleep after trying other methods (such as setting a regular schedule, reducing screen time, and relaxing before bed), you might consider CBD as an extra help.
Can Reduce Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety and stress are linked with heart health. Stress can keep you awake at night or raise your blood pressure. We’ve already talked about improved sleep and lower blood pressure—sometimes CBD can help with these things because they reduce stress and anxiety.
One review gathered information on CBD and stress from animal studies. Several experiments administered CBD to animals and then introduced them to stressful situations (such as a maze or a swimming test). Most of the studies reduced anxiety in the animal models.
Other studies looked at the effect of CBD in human cases—but they didn’t just rely on self-reported assessments. Brain scans showed CBD can even change blood flow in the brain.
One study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology examined CBD on the anxious brain. Participants with social anxiety disorder were given CBD or a placebo. Brain scans were taken after CBD and placebo were administered. For the CBD group, blood flow and brain activity changed in areas associated with anxiety. The participants also reported feeling less anxious.
By managing stress and anxiety, you can help your heart. Not all stress is bad, but chronic stress and anxiety can lead to heart problems. Reduced stress means lower blood pressure, a steady heartbeat, and a healthy lifestyle.
Researchers at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have outlined potential risks of CBD. According to their research, CBD may be dangerous for the young and for people who already have heart disease. Synthetic (or lab-made) cannabinoids were also linked with kidney damage.
Because of a lack of research, CBD is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Knowledge is still young, and CBD is not regulated by the FDA. There are few outlines on recommended daily dosage or frequency. To be safe, start with smaller doses (or follow recommendations on the product package) and take CBD only as needed. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.
CBD has few known side effects. It is well-tolerated by most people who use it. Some reported side effects have included
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
CBD may interact negatively with medications such as blood-thinners. Always talk with your doctor before taking CBD if you are currently taking a medication or have a serious health condition.
The Bottom Line
Emerging evidence on CBD indicates that CBD can help you prevent serious heart health concerns later in life. CBD can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, improve sleep, and even help fortify against diabetes. These are all important for your heart health. Always talk with your doctor about taking CBD, especially if you have a health concern or are taking medication. Because of its minimal side effects, CBD can be a great addition to your heart-health routine.