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Does CBD Oil Lower Blood Pressure? What the Research Says

With stress in the U.S. on the rise, it’s no wonder more than half of Americans suffer from high blood pressure.

woman wearing jean jacket filling a dropper with CBD oil, black CBD oil bottle

CBD oil has been hailed as a cure-all for a variety of conditions, but what do researchers have to say about CBD oil and blood pressure?

Does CBD oil lower blood pressure, or is it an unfounded claim? Is it possible to skip the burdensome doctors’ visits and expensive trips to the pharmacy?

We wouldn’t go that far. Hypertension is a risk factor in heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Even though it’s common, it’s a serious issue which require medical attention.

However, there are many steps you can take to naturally reduce your blood pressure, one of which may be by using CBD oil for hypertension.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. As blood is pumped through your blood vessels, they undergo a degree of force. If you have high blood pressure, this force can damage the walls of your blood vessels, veins and arteries.

When you visit the doctor, you’ll usually hear your blood pressure described by two numbers, like 120/70.

The first number refers to the systolic pressure, the pressure exerted when the heart contracts and pumps blood into the arteries. The second is the diastolic pressure, measured when the heart muscle relaxes between beats. In cardiology, a systolic pressure of 140, and/or a diastolic pressure of 90, is considered the boundary between normal and high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular complications such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm and heart failure. The condition is exacerbated by type 2 diabetes, stress, anxiety, inflammation, high cholesterol levels, insomnia, a diet high in salt, and alcohol and tobacco use.

Lowering High Blood Pressure: CBD and Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can be naturally lowered by reducing stress, salt intake, and consumption of alcohol and tobacco. You can also lower your blood pressure by exercising regularly and eating more fruits and vegetables.

Your doctor may prescribe medications that can lower blood pressure. Many of these medications, such as calcium channel blockers and ACE-inhibitors, cause side effects like headaches, dizziness, constipation and swollen ankles. That has naturally sparked interest in non-prescription treatments for high blood pressure.

New evidence links CBD to a decrease in blood pressure. For many people, CBD oil has fewer side effects than prescription medications, too.

We spoke with Rebecca Park, registered nurse and founder of RemediesForMe.com, who told us that CBD oil tinctures made using hemp have very few side effects and are generally well tolerated.

If you are already on high blood pressure medications, however, consult your physician before using CBD oil as there may be interactions.

What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, which is a cannabinoid found in the two forms of cannabis, marijuana and hemp plants.

Commercially-available CBD oil is cannabidiol extracted from the hemp plant, often mixed with coconut or hemp oil. Unlike its marijuana-derived counterpart, this CBD oil does not contain high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so cannabidiol does not get you high. Instead, most users report that it makes them feel relaxed and calm, among the other generally positive effects of CBD.

According to federal law, hemp-derived CBD oil is classified as having less than 0.3% THC, making it legal to purchase and use. And since hemp has minuscule amounts of THC content, CBD oil from this type of cannabis plant does not cause any of THC’s intoxicating side effects. Marijuana-derived CBD oil, whether it’s derived from sativa or indica-dominant plants, contains more than 0.3% THC as its primary active ingredient, and may make you high. It is only legal in states with recreational or medical marijuana legalization.

Though it comes in a wide variety of forms such as capsules, vape juice, powders, topical patches and lotions, and edibles like gummies, cannabidiol is most popularly consumed as a sublingual oil. You simply place a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue and let it sit for 30 to 90 seconds.

Pharmacology research has shown a wide range of potential benefits for cannabidiol. CBD oil is commonly used to treat or supplement treatment of medical conditions like chronic pain, inflammation, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. Park added that CBD oil is also commonly used by people suffering from a wide range of mental disorders.

“CBD can be effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, anxiety related insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” she said.

Additionally, emerging evidence shows that CBD may use the same mechanism to treat high blood pressure as it does to reduce anxiety.

How CBD Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System and Body

The endocannabinoid system is a biological system in your body that allows cannabinoids to send and receive messages that control most of the body’s important functions. In fact, your body naturally produces cannabinoids every day.

This system has two main endocannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2. THC binds directly to the CB1 receptors, affecting areas of the brain that influence memory, motor coordination and time perception, and to the CB2 receptors which affect the pain centers in your brain and manage inflammation in the body. The interaction between THC and the endocannabinoid system is what causes the psychoactive side effects that marijuana is best known for.

On the other hand, cannabidiol does not directly bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, it causes a number of indirect actions leading to therapeutic benefits, such as activating TRPV1 receptors that regulate pain, body temperature, and inflammation.

Does CBD Oil Lower Blood Pressure?

While Park told us that high blood pressure can be caused by a number of factors, CBD oil appears to lower increases in blood pressure caused by stress and anxiety.

She explained that when emotional or physical stress is high, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol can raise blood pressure.

“CBD lowers blood pressure by reducing cortisol levels and dilating blood vessels, allowing more blood flow and leading to lower blood pressure,” Park said.

Park pointed to a study of 11 participants that showed CBD oil may lower the levels of cortisol produced in the body. This study showed that volunteers saw a significant reduction in cortisol production when given 300 mg and 600 mg of CBD compared to the placebo control.

In a famous 2017 randomized crossover study led by British doctor Khalid Jadoon and published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), a single dose of 600 mg of CBD oil or a placebo was administered to nine healthy volunteers. The resulting data showed that acute administration of CBD reduced resting blood pressure compared to placebo dosing.

The patients were then given a series of stress tests to increase heart rate. Those who were given 600 mg of CBD had lower stress-induced blood pressure spikes than the control group.

It’s amazing, but it’s true. A single dose of cannabidiol lowered the blood pressure of patients, whether they were resting or under stress.

The sample size of these studies was small and further research is required to establish whether CBD has a role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders, but the results are promising.

How CBD Can Help With Hypertension

As Park explained, high blood pressure can be caused by many factors. Fortunately, there are several health benefits of CBD that could indirectly help with hypertension.

Anti-Anxiety

Anxiety can lead to rapid heart rate and palpitations, leaving you at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

CBD oil has been shown to reduce anxiety in animal studies by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA). This study demonstrated that symptoms that accompany anxiety, like high blood pressure and rapid heart rate, were improved by use of CBD.

Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation doesn’t only occur in your joints. In fact, research shows that CBD oil can reduce inflammation in the heart and blood vessels in the brain.

Called a “vasorelaxant” by researchers, CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties may lower blood pressure by allowing the free flow of blood through your heart, arteries and veins.

Analgesic Properties

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), acute pain can lead to high blood pressure. Because CBD acts on the pain receptors in the brain, the pain-relieving properties of CBD could lead to decreased blood pressure.

CBD Improves Sleep

As CBD reduces stress, you may see an increase in your quality of sleep and general wellness.

Sarah Polansky, owner and developer of the CBD brand Prismatic Plants, told Public Goods that “The more you take CBD and help to regulate your adrenals, the less likely you’ll feel fatigued as your body returns to a state of balance rather than constant stress.”

She added, “This means your need for caffeine consumption could decrease and your quality of sleep could improve, which has a waterfall benefit for increasing overall health.”

Choosing CBD Oil for High Blood Pressure

No prescription or documentation is needed for CBD oil. The only exceptions are the marijuana-derived CBD oil sold in dispensaries (in medical marijuana states, you’ll need a patient card to buy it) and a medication called Epidiolex, a CBD medication only available by prescription to patients suffering from some forms of childhood epilepsy.

All of the forms of CBD that you can buy over the counter are not generic products. Their effectiveness depends largely on the quality of the manufacturer producing it, and the type of CBD that’s used.

Many of the cannabidiol products you’ll see in CBD stores or online are of lower quality, since – as with any product – it’s more expensive to produce high-end merchandise and it sells for a higher price, often with lower profit margins for the vendors.

High-quality CBD oil, capsules, topicals, juice for vaping, or edibles will always produce a better result, so it’s best to do a little research to find reputable vendors who create effective products. Look for oil sourced from Colorado or West Coast organic hemp, extracted with high-end methods (like supercritical CO2 extraction), and containing only a small number of natural or organic ingredients required for flavoring or distributing the cannabidiol (the latter is done via MCT coconut carrier oil in high-quality CBD).

Some cannabidiol delivery methods work more slowly than others.

Capsules and edibles, for example, must make their way through the digestion process before the CBD can be released into the blood stream and carried throughout the body. Vaping or administration under the tongue make the cannabidiol available almost immediately, since it’s absorbed quickly by the sublingual glands or tissues in the lungs. And topical CBD usually doesn’t even make it into the bloodstream, since it’s blocked by the epidermis.

When shopping for CBD oil, you’ll find there are three different types to choose from.

  • Full-spectrum CBD is the most effective. It contains all of hemp’s natural terpenes and flavonoids, as well as all of the cannabinoids in the plant – including the small amount of THC we’ve mentioned. They all work together in the so-called “entourage effect” that boosts CBD’s performance.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD provides a slightly lower entourage effect, because the THC content has been removed from the cannabidiol before it’s processed and sold.
  • CBD isolate goes a step further. All of the components of hemp except cannabidiol are removed, leaving only pure CBD in the final products.

Some people believe that pure cannabidiol does the most good, but in reality, there’s only one reason to avoid CBD that contains THC: it eliminates any chance of turning up dirty on a drug test for marijuana. In reality, very few full-spectrum CBD users ever test positive, but some people’s minds are set at ease by knowing there’s no THC in their body.

What’s The Best CBD Dosage for High Blood Pressure?

Because the FDA has not approved over-the-counter CBD products, there is no official recommendation for a dose of CBD. The right dose depends on your weight, genetics, sex and medical history. More studies need to be conducted with human subjects to get an accurate dosage.

Many CBD oils come in dropperful (1 ml) doses of 10 mg/ml. Cannabidiol affects different people, particularly based on the weight, metabolism and body type. However, Park said the effective therapeutic dose is usually in the range of 20 mg to 300 mg, or 2 to 30 dropperfuls.

In a 2018 study, researchers found that a dose of 300 mg was most effective for reducing anxiety in a simulated public speaking trial. Participants who took 150 mg or 600 mg did not receive the same benefit.

Meanwhile, in the previously-mentioned study of nine healthy volunteers, blood pressure was effectively lowered with a single dose of 600 mg.

The best way to determine how effective a dose of CBD will be for you is to start small and frequently check your blood pressure using an electronic cuff. Write down the dose you took and the time you took it, as well as your blood pressure reading. Over time, you should be able to obtain a clearer picture of what dose will help you achieve low blood pressure.

Park noted that, “If CBD works for you, without the use of other medications, I would say it is a great and safe alternative.” CBD may not be a replacement for exercise and a healthy diet, but it is nice to know you might be able to lower your blood pressure with a few drops of oil under the tongue.

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CBD oil seems to be a cure-all for many ailments, but does it lower high blood pressure? Here’s what research says about CBD and hypertension.

A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study

Khalid A. Jadoon

1 Division of Medical Sciences & Graduate Entry Medicine, University of Nottingham, Royal Derby Hospital Centre, Derby, United Kingdom.

Garry D. Tan

2 The NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Churchill Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Saoirse E. O’Sullivan

1 Division of Medical Sciences & Graduate Entry Medicine, University of Nottingham, Royal Derby Hospital Centre, Derby, United Kingdom.

Associated Data

Abstract

BACKGROUND. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a nonpsychoactive phytocannabinoid used in multiple sclerosis and intractable epilepsies. Preclinical studies show CBD has numerous cardiovascular benefits, including a reduced blood pressure (BP) response to stress. The aim of this study was to investigate if CBD reduces BP in humans.

METHODS. Nine healthy male volunteers were given 600 mg of CBD or placebo in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study. Cardiovascular parameters were monitored using a finometer and laser Doppler.

RESULTS. CBD reduced resting systolic BP (–6 mmHg; P Keywords: Therapeutics, Vascular Biology

Introduction

Epidemiological studies have shown a positive relationship between long-term stress and the development of cardiovascular disease (1). Factors like social isolation, low socioeconomic status, depression, stressful family and work life, and anxiety are associated with an increased risk of the development and accelerated progression of existing cardiovascular disease. Current European guidelines on the prevention of cardiovascular disease have emphasized the importance of tackling these factors (2). Mental stress induces myocardial ischaemia in patients with stable coronary artery disease, and this appears to be mediated by adrenal release of catecholamines (3).

Cannabinoids (CBs) are compounds that bind to CB receptors or are structurally similar to compounds that bind to CB receptors. They include endogenously produced compounds (called endocannabinoids), synthetic compounds and phytocannabinoids obtained from the Cannabis sativa plant. There are over 80 known types of phytocannabinoids, the most widely studied of which is Δ 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ 9 -THC or THC), which is responsible for the psychoactive properties of cannabis (4). The other major phytocannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), which does not have psychoactive properties. CBD is currently the focus of much research due to its potential in a number of therapeutic areas, as it has been shown to have antiinflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, anxiolytic, antinausea, and antipsychotic properties (5). A number of preclinical studies have also shown beneficial effects of CBD in a range of disorders of the cardiovascular system (6). A CBD/THC combination (Sativex/Nabiximols, GW Pharmaceuticals) is licensed for the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and CBD alone (Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals) has entered an expanded access program in children with intractable epilepsies (Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome). Epidiolex has also received orphan designation status for the treatment of neonatal hypoxia-ischaemic encephalopathy.

CBD has multiple desirable effects on the cardiovascular system. It attenuates high glucose–induced proinflammatory changes in human coronary artery endothelial cells (7) and myocardial dysfunction associated with animal models of diabetes (8), and it preserves endothelial integrity in diabetic retinal microvasculature (9). In vivo administration of CBD before cardiac ischemia and reperfusion also reduces ventricular arrhythmias and infarct size. CBD also causes both acute and time-dependent vasorelaxation in isolated arteries in rats and humans (10–12). There is also evidence from animal studies that CBD modulates the cardiovascular response to stress. Resstel and colleagues (13) showed in rats that i.p. injection of CBD (10 and 20 mg/kg, –30 min) reduced restraint stress–induced cardiovascular response and behavior. Both these effects were blocked by preadministration of WAY100635 (0.1 mg/kg), a 5-hydroxytryptamine 1A (5HT1A) antagonist. These effects appear to be mediated centrally and involve the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a limbic structure that modulates neuroendocrine responses to acute stress (14).

Our recent systematic review showed us that there are no dedicated studies in humans to date, to our knowledge, looking at the effect of CBD on either resting cardiovascular measurement or on the responses to stress, with continuous monitoring of CV parameters (15). Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate whether CBD decreases the cardiovascular response to stress after the administration of a single dose of CBD (600 mg) in healthy volunteers, with the hypothesis that blood pressure would be reduced by CBD. Noninvasive cardiovascular measurements were used along with stress tests in the form of mental arithmetic, isometric exercise, and the cold pressor test.

Results

Ten male subjects were recruited, but 1 withdrew for personal reasons. The mean age, weight, and height of the volunteers were 23.7 ± 3.2 years, 77.5 ± 6.4 kg, and 178.6 ± 4.5 cm (mean ± SD).

Effect of CBD on resting cardiovascular parameters.

CBD treatment reduced resting systolic blood pressure (SBP) (mean difference –6 mmHg; 95% CI, –1 to –12, P Figure 1A ). Although there was no overall difference in diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) between the 2 groups, post-hoc analysis showed that both DBP and MAP were lower with CBD treatment ( Figure 1, B and C , respectively; P + / # P ++ / ## P Figure 1E ) and increased heart rate (HR), with significant difference in HR between CBD and placebo from an hour after ingestion of drug ( Figure 1D, P Figure 1G ), while cardiac output (CO) ( Figure 1F ) remained unchanged.

There was a trend toward reduction in total peripheral resistance (TPR, Figure 1H ) with CBD in the latter half of the resting period, and a significant reduction in forearm skin blood flow before the start of the stress tests ( Figure 1I ; P Figure 2 , showing the average baseline systolic or diastolic blood pressure in the 4 minutes preceeding the stress test, the peak response during stress, and the average recovery response in the 4 minutes after the stress test.

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Green color coding shows subjectS who had a reduced (compared with placebo) blood pressure response to stress after taking CBD, and red color coding shows an increased blood pressure response to stress after taking CBD.

Mental stress test.

Mental stress caused a rise in HR (P Figure 3D ) and a decline in SV (P Figure 3E ), which was seen in both the CBD and placebo groups. There was a rise in DBP (P Figure 3B ) and a decline in EJT (P Figure 3G ), seen only in those who had taken CBD.

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Subjects who had taken CBD had increased HR (mean difference 10 bpm; 95% CI, 5–14, P Figure 4D ) and decreased SV (mean difference –13 ml; 95% CI, –4 to –22, P Figure 4E ) and EJT (mean difference –0.01 sec, 95% CI, –0.001 to –0.03, P Figure 4G ) during the exercise stress. There was no difference in CO during the exercise stress ( Figure 4F ).

A rise in forearm cutaneous blood flow in response to exercise (as would be expected) was only seen in volunteers who had taken placebo (P Figure 4I ). Post-hoc analysis showed significantly lower forearm skin blood flow in those who had taken CBD ( Figure 4I ; P Figure 4H ; P Figure 5A ) and MAP (placebo P Figure 5C ) in both groups and a rise in DBP only with placebo (P Figure 5B ). An equal rise in SBP and MAP was seen with both CBD and placebo in the first half of this stress test. However, while the blood pressure (SBP and MAP) continued to rise in the placebo group, it plateaued in volunteers who had taken CBD, and therefore both SBP and MAP were significantly lower in volunteers after CBD (mean difference –8 mmHg [95% CI, –4 to –12, P Figure 5B ; P + / # P ++ P +++ P Figure 2 ). Six of 9 subjects had a lower DBP during the cold pressor, and 7 of 9 subject had a lower DBP in the recovery period after taking CBD ( Figure 2 ).

As before, HR was higher in volunteers who had taken CBD (mean difference 7 bpm; 95% CI: 2–13; P Figure 5D ), and EJT was lower (mean difference -0.01 sec; 95% CI: 0 to –0.02; P Figure 5G ). Sidak post-hoc analysis showed that SV was significantly lower with CBD throughout ( Figure 5E ; P Figure 5F ).

Acknowledgments

GT is supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre Programme. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health.

Footnotes

Conflict of interest: GW Pharma supplied the cannabidiol (CBD) and placebo but did not fund the study.

A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study Khalid A. Jadoon 1 Division of Medical Sciences & Graduate Entry Medicine, University