Updated 02/27/2018 New Studies
A healthy cardiovascular system is necessary for a long, happy life. However, cardiovascular conditions are among the most common diseases in the United States, and are increasingly prevalent health issues elsewhere in the world, too. Heart disease alone is the most common cause of death among Americans, while 735,000 Americans experience heart attacks in a given year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are several factors implicated in these high disease and mortality rates, including diet, exercise levels, lifestyle habits, and genetics.
Studies on the endocannabinoid system have found that endocannabinoid receptors like CB1 and CB2 are located in the brain and cardiovascular system, in addition to other locations. It therefore is reasonable to consider that cannabidiol (CBD), which acts on the endocannabinoid system, might have effects on the cardiovascular system. Studies like the one performed by Gomes et al. (2013) found that CBD's actions in the brain can, in fact, reduce high blood pressure associated with stress responses. However, researchers are also looking into whether there might be more possibilities for CBD in the cardiovascular system; for example, as a potential way to mitigate or prevent cardiovascular diseases.
We've talked before about CBD's possible role as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and it is these effects that led Stanley et al. (2013) to note that CBD has shown some capabilities in mice to relax blood vessels in high-pressure environments, and to protect animals' blood vessels that would ordinarily be damaged by high glucose diets, diabetes, and inflammation responses. These dietary, disease, and immune factors are each risks for cardiovascular disease. Moreover, Stanley et al. (2013) reported that in animal models of stroke, CBD had improved blood flow to the brain and reduced the extent of the damage.
As a potential way to address obesity, CBD may offer other options for cardiac health. Silvestri et al. (2015) suggested that CBD's ability, found in animal studies, to improve insulin responses normally impaired in diabetes, and its capacity to decrease fat levels between cells, might have wider cardiovascular implications. Rajesh et al. (2010) also discovered, in mice experiencing heart disease as a result of uncontrolled diabetes, that CBD exposure had “remarkably” and significantly improved cardiac function, reduced cardiovascular cell death, and reduced fibrosis in the animals treated with it. These effects seemed to be not only to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, but to signaling through the endocannabinoid system. Given the differences between mice and humans, these results do not promise an immediate cure for heart disease, but they offer food for thought and a reason to research CBD's impact on the human cardiovascular system in the future.
The most recent study was a meta-analysis that investigated the impacts of cannabis and cannabinoids on cardiovascular risk factors. The study showed insufficient evidence that there is any relation between cannabis and any heart disease. However, method of consumption was mentioned and smoking any sort of plant matter should always be done in moderation. The article also talked about THC’s ability to increase heart rate as well as the effects of cannabis in your arteries. This study was released to the public in February of 2018, and is available here.
There's no substitute for a good diet and regular exercise when it comes to cardiovascular health, and for conditions like heart disease or hypertension, it's always best to see a doctor. That said, CBD could still play a valuable role for people pursing good cardiovascular health, whether you're just starting out on a new health regimen or you've been watching your health for years. Some of the best CBD options for you could include sugar-free, organic CBD chocolate bars, calming CBD-infused chamomile tea, and convenient packages like vape pens and juices for on the go.
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