CBD for Heart Disease
This is an excerpt from The Essential Guide to CBD by the Editors at Reader’s Digest and Project CBD .
Heart disease is a catchall phrase for the disease that develops when the arteries of the heart cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart, leading to events like heart attack. It’s the leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 655,000 Americans each year, which is about one in every four deaths. Key risk factors for heart disease include unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, diabetes, overweight and obesity, and excessive alcohol use.
Similarly, a stroke, which is sometimes called “ brain attack,” occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or reduced. So the same precautions that protect against heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease (like diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle that can include CBD supplementation) can help prevent stroke. CBD can also play a key role in protecting the brain after a stroke.
Inside Your Arteries
Research shows that CBD can help maintain healthy cardiovascular function and prevent heart disease on a number of fronts, including protecting against hardening of the arteries, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the incidence of potentially dangerous arrhythmias.
It starts inside your arteries. When the linings of your artery walls are injured, they build up plaque that can cause the arteries to narrow. This is called atherosclerosis; it’s a prevalent form of heart disease. Inflammation is a leading cause of this type of injury, as is high blood pressure. Exposure to tiny chronic doses of THC has been shown to slow the progression of atherosclerosis in animal studies.
THC and CBD are both vasodilators, meaning they widen your blood vessels, a process regulated by the endocannabinoid system. This can have a pronounced positive effect on blood pressure. In a 2017 study, British researchers gave a group of men either 600 mg of CBD or a dummy supplement and monitored their blood pressure at rest and again after stress tests that normally increased blood pressure. Just that single dose of CBD reduced the participants’ resting systolic blood pressure by 6 mmHg. Plus, they had less of a spike in blood pressure in response to stress than those taking a single dose of a placebo pill.
In a follow-up study, where the researchers gave 26 men 600 mg of CBD or a placebo for seven days, the results were mixed. Measurements of resting blood pressure revealed that the participants had developed a tolerance to the CBD over time, but CBD ’s ability to lower blood pressure during stress persisted. (Of course, if you are already dealing with low blood pressure, the blood pressure–reducing effects of CBD are something to be aware of, and you may need to avoid high doses.)
“The reduction of arterial stiffness, and improvements in internal carotid artery blood flow and endothelial function after chronic CBD treatment, indicate a positive effect in vascular function that warrants further investigation in relevant patient populations,” lead researcher Saoirse E. O’Sullivan, PhD, reported.
CBD may also protect against cardiac arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, where the heart beats too fast, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. Arrhythmias can be brought on by long-term stress, as high cortisol levels can raise blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides, and other risk factors for heart disease in general. CBD ’s anti-anxiety properties can help combat stress, lower cortisol, and protect against arrhythmias related to those causes.
CBD may protect against cardiac arrhythmias or irregular heartbeat.
Research shows that CBD also can suppress irregular heartbeat caused by stroke-induced ischemia (inadequate blood supply to the heart) and can minimize tissue damage caused by the lack of oxygen. A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that when rats were given CBD 10 minutes before a 30-minute coronary artery occlusion (partial or complete obstruction of blood flow in the coronary artery, which may cause chest pain, heart attack, and tissue damage) or 10 minutes before blood flow was restored, they experienced fewer arrhythmias and less tissue damage than rats not given CBD . Research in this area is still in the early stage, but it already shows great potential.
Since cannabinoids also mop up free radicals — and improve the effects of other antioxidants in the body — CBD may also protect against heart disease by reducing the cellular damage that happens when we’re exposed to free-radical producers like processed foods and environmental pollution.
CBD also delays the reabsorption of a chemical called adenosine (meaning that you have more of it in circulation), which quells inflammation and helps maintain healthy heart function.
If you’re already taking medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, or other heart conditions, it’s important to consult with your doctor before you start taking CBD . High doses of CBD may interfere with the metabolism of some of these drugs, which could have problematic consequences.
An excerpt from The Essential Guide to CBD by the editors of Reader’s Digest & Project CBD .
Copyright, Project CBD . May not be reprinted without permission.
Research shows that CBD can help maintain healthy cardiovascular function and prevent heart disease.
CBD Oil and Heart Failure
Could CBD oil ease your heart failure symptoms or help you manage your condition? This herbal supplement is sold over the counter and may be marketed with various health claims, but heart experts arenвЂ™t so sure itвЂ™s worthwhile or even safe if you have heart failure.
вЂњHeart failure patients should know that while CBD has been touted as a wonder compound and seems to be in almost everything these days, it has never been shown to have any significant cardiovascular benefits in human studies,вЂќ says Scott Lundgren, DO, a transplant cardiologist at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil contains cannabidiol, an herbal liquid supplement made from the cannabis plant. It doesnвЂ™t have the same effect on the brain as THC, another compound found in cannabis that gives you a вЂњhighвЂќ when smoked or eaten, says Larry Allen, MD, associate division head for clinical affairs in cardiology at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
вЂњThere are no known cardiovascular benefits for cannabis or cannabidiol, and there may even be some adverse effects, so people should not take these products and think that it will have positive effects on their cardiovascular health,вЂќ says Allen, whoвЂ™s also co-author of the American Heart AssociationвЂ™s statement on all cannabis products.
In 2018, the FDA approved the first oral, purified CBD drug, Epidiolex, to treat seizures in two rare forms of epilepsy. Two synthetic versions of cannabidiol were later approved: dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) for treatment of nausea during cancer chemotherapy and nabilone (Cesamet) to treat weight loss associated with AIDS.
Some of CBDвЂ™s proven benefits in other health conditions may be intriguing to people living with heart failure, Allen says.
вЂњDoes it stimulate your appetite? Yes. Do people gain weight if they take it? Possibly true. Patients with severe heart failure do have cachexia,вЂќ or severe weight loss and muscle wasting, he says. вЂњOne could argue that people with nausea, lack of appetite, or who are losing weight could think CBD would help them. People with heart failure have a fair amount of discomfort, including edema [swelling] and somatic or pain-related issues, so you could think CBD has a role.вЂќ
But there isnвЂ™t really any evidence to prove that it will relieve heart failure symptoms or be safe to use if you have heart failure, he adds.
What We Know About CBD
Some research suggests that CBD oil may improve some heart-related symptoms:
- A very small study conducted in 2017 in England found that CBD improved resting blood pressure and blood pressure spikes related to stress in people without heart conditions.
- Various studies in animals have shown that CBD could improve vasorelaxation, or opening of arteries for better blood flow, as well as reduce inflammation. A small clinical trial from Mexico studying CBD in people with heart failure hasnвЂ™t reported any results yet.
- A large study of more than 161,000 people hospitalized for heart failure who had used marijuana found that they had, on average, a lower risk of death and shorter hospital stays. But this doesnвЂ™t necessarily mean CBD oil would have the same benefit.
ItвЂ™s illegal in the U.S. to market CBD by adding it to any food or calling it a dietary supplement. Also, although the FDA has approved a few CBD drugs to treat certain diseases, donвЂ™t expect CBD sold over the counter to be safe or beneficial for heart failure, Lundgren says.
вЂњCBD oil may not have the same properties, and it can actually cause gastrointestinal distress like diarrhea or cause decreased appetite. CBD products can include unknown ingredients and may not be accurately labeled,вЂќ he says.
When you use CBD oil, your liver breaks it down. During this process, it could interfere with your medications for heart failure or other heart conditions. вЂњCBD has known interactions with warfarin, certain statins, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, and nitrates. Just because a supplement is вЂnaturalвЂ™ doesnвЂ™t mean that it is safe,вЂќ Lundgren says.
CBD May Have Health Risks
CBD oil must be studied in randomized clinical trials on people, not animals, before it can be considered safe or effective for heart failure, Lundgren says. Until that happens, he advises against buying or using CBD. вЂњThere is some evidence that CBD can cause liver injury as well as lead to male infertility issues. When consumed with alcohol, individuals may experience increased drowsiness, which can lead to household injuries.вЂќ
If you have heart failure, you might feel like youвЂ™re taking control of your own care by trying herbal treatments that donвЂ™t require a prescription. To be safe, talk to your cardiologist first: Ask questions about CBD oil and make decisions together about using this or any other supplement, Allen says.
вЂњCBD products cost money and can distract you from taking prescribed treatments for heart failure that are evidence-based. They could do indirect harm to people with heart failure. . We already have a half-dozen treatments for heart failure symptoms and to help you live longer.вЂќ
Larry Allen, MD, MHS, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Scott Lundgren, DO, Nebraska Medicine.
FDA: вЂњWhat You Need to Know (And What WeвЂ™re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD,вЂќ вЂњFDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy,вЂќ вЂњFDA and Cannabis: Research and Drug Approval Process.вЂќ
JCI Insight: вЂњA single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study.вЂќ
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: вЂњTherapeutic Applications of Cannabinoids in Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure.вЂќ
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: вЂњAn Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.вЂќ
ClinicalTrials.gov: вЂњCannabidiol in Patients With Heart Failure in AHA/ACC Stages A-C (CAPITAL-AC).вЂќ NCT03634189.
Journal of Cardiac Failure: вЂњMarijuana Use is Associated with Better Hospital Outcome in Patients with Acute Heart Failure: A Propensity Match Analysis from National Inpatient Database.вЂќ
CBD oil is made from cannabis plants but wonвЂ™t make you high. Still, this natural supplement could interact with some heart medicines. Find out what you need to know before you try CBD oil for heart failure.