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CBD shouldn’t be your sole solution for lowering blood pressure, but some research suggests it might help. Here are the details, plus products worth exploring.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, can lead to serious health concerns like a heart attack or stroke. But because hypertension doesn’t typically cause symptoms, many people who have it don’t even know. That’s why it’s so important to regularly check your blood pressure.
If you have hypertension, you may have heard that cannabidiol (CBD) can help lower blood pressure.
CBD is one of the active compounds in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it doesn’t have intoxicating properties that produce a “high.” Instead, much focus is on the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD.
Here’s what the research says, plus tips for finding a few products to explore.
There’s some evidence that CBD products could help lower blood pressure, but the research is still emerging and existing studies are small.
Another 2017 study in mice found that CBD significantly reduced stress-induced increases in blood pressure and heart rate.
Researchers acknowledge the potential benefits of CBD for cardiovascular disorders but note that additional studies are needed to fully understand CBD’s effects.
The FDA does note that more research is needed. It points out that there are many unanswered questions about CBD’s safety. Furthermore, it notes that some CBD products are inaccurately labeled and of questionable quality.
If you do decide to try CBD, know that some people experience side effects, including:
- changes in weight or appetite
For high blood pressure specifically, a
Finally, it’s crucial to keep in mind that CBD may interact with some medications, including
While CBD comes in many forms, the best option for high blood pressure is likely an oil or tincture rather than a topical or edible.
Oils tend to offer higher bioavailability, which means a greater absorption rate for more effectiveness. Sublingual products (those you apply under the tongue) also have a full-body effect.
The FDA doesn’t regulate CBD products the same way they do supplements and medications, which means consumers must be careful about the brands they use.
To find a quality CBD product, it’s important to check for a few things:
Certificate of analysis (COA)
Avoid purchasing CBD products that don’t have a certificate of analysis (COA). A current COA means a product has been tested for safety and purity by a third-party lab.
Many brands make these reports available via a QR code on the product packaging or on the website.
When you review the COA, check to see if the amount of CBD and THC that the lab found matches what’s being advertised. Also, look at the contaminant testing results to be sure there aren’t unsafe levels of pesticides, heavy metals, or molds.
FDA warning letters and lawsuits
If a CBD company is making unverified health claims, the FDA will send a
If you see that a company has received one, it may be a good idea to avoid it.
Look for customer feedback on both the company and the product you’re considering to get an idea of its effectiveness. Keep in mind, though, that some brands may:
- only publish positive reviews on their sites
- remove reviews that mention specific health conditions in order to comply with FDA rules
Always check out the website of any brand you’re interested in. Some brands will be very upfront about where they get their CBD from, as well as how they make their products. These are the brands you’ll want to buy from.
Shopping online makes it easy to find a huge variety of CBD products on various websites, but Amazon isn’t one of them. The company prohibits the sale of CBD, so any products listed there are most likely hempseed products. Hemp seed does not contain CBD.
Don’t rely on CBD alone to lower blood pressure. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional to figure out what’s best for you. Depending on your blood pressure readings, you may be recommended medication.
There are also home remedies that can help manage the condition. A nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is important, along with managing weight and exercising regularly. Following a low sodium diet may also be advised.
Finally, smoking can have an effect on blood pressure. Chemicals in tobacco smoke are damaging to tissues in the body and harden the walls of blood vessels. Alcohol can also raise blood pressure, so limiting your intake can help.
More research is needed to understand the potential cardiovascular benefits of CBD.
Since hypertension is often a silent condition, you may not have symptoms until the condition has become more severe. At that point, symptoms may include:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- changes in vision
- blood in urine
If you’re experiencing these kinds of symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.
There are two kinds of hypertension:
- Primary hypertension is the most common. It develops gradually with no discernible cause, but it may be linked to genetics, physical changes in the body, or high body weight.
- Secondary hypertension comes on quickly and can be more serious. It has a number of causes, including kidney disease, congenital heart defects, thyroid issues, alcohol consumption, and certain medications and stimulants, like cocaine and amphetamines.
CBD is available in a few different types: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.
While full-spectrum and broad-spectrum both contain other compounds from the cannabis plant — like flavonoids, terpenes, and other cannabinoids — full-spectrum CBD is the only type that contains some THC (usually less than 0.3 percent).
CBD isolate is pure CBD. But it’s important to know that any type of CBD may contain trace amounts of THC that could show up on a drug test.
CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex system that helps regulate processes in the body. Cannabinoids bind to the receptors in the same manner as endocannabinoids, which occur naturally in the body.
While our understanding of the ECS is still unfolding, we know it’s made of three components:
- endocannabinoids, which are molecules made in the body
- endocannabinoid receptors, which are found throughout the body; the main receptors are called CB1 and CB2 receptors
- enzymes, which break down endocannabinoids once they’ve completed their function
At this time, researchers believe the primary role of the ECS is maintaining homeostasis in the body. The ECS is linked to a number of bodily processes, including:
- appetite and digestion
- motor control
While THC can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, researchers don’t yet understand how CBD interacts with the ECS.
One theory is that CBD prevents endocannabinoids from being broken down, giving them a greater effect on the body. Another theory is that CBD binds to a receptor that researchers haven’t identified yet.
Research from 2011 suggests taking both THC and CBD, along with the other compounds in the cannabis plant, may be more effective than using a single cannabinoid alone. This theory is called the entourage effect, and it’s why some people say full-spectrum CBD works better than broad-spectrum or isolate.
Before trying CBD to help manage high blood pressure, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional. Regular checkups are also a good idea, as symptoms of high blood pressure don’t often begin until the condition is more severe.
If you’re noticing symptoms or you can’t remember the last time your blood pressure was taken, it’s a good idea to talk with a medical professional.
High blood pressure can cause several unwanted complications, and you may not notice it until it has become more severe.
But there are treatment options that can help — many medications and lifestyle changes. There’s also some evidence that CBD may be another option worth exploring. Before you do, reach out to a doctor to discuss all your options.