Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. Over the past decades, we’ve seen a worrying increase in the number of heart attacks, strokes, and premature deaths caused by heart disease. In large part, we can attribute this global problem to our modern lifestyles. But while making adjustments to how we eat, drink or exercise can make a big difference, modern medicine is also finding new ways to prevent, treat and manage heart disease. Today, CBD for heart disease and CBD-based medicine offer new potential ways of treatment. So can taking CBD really make your heart healthier? And what solutions does CBD offer to those who are predisposed to heart disease? Here’s what you need to know.
The Modern Epidemic
Heart disease or “cardiovascular disease” is an umbrella term used to refer to a few different medical problems. These include:
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart attacks
- Genetic heart conditions
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
For the purposes of this article, we’ll discuss types of heart disease that are caused by lifestyle (like heart attacks and coronary heart disease), as opposed to those that are genetic (like birth defects).
Anyone, whether male or female, young or old, can suffer from heart disease. However, these conditions are more common in those over the age of 50. This is because the normal functioning of the heart is directly impacted by lifestyle. Over the years, the impact of an unhealthy lifestyle leaves a mark on the body—and especially on the heart.
Some of the biggest risk factors behind heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
There are also a couple of lifestyle choices that are linked to much greater incidences of heart disease. Those are:
- Eating an unhealthy diet (too much processed food, unhealthy fats, salt and sugar)
- Lack of exercise
- Drinking alcohol, smoking and taking certain drugs
Heart diseases are usually diagnosed by a doctor during a medical exam. Any issues with how your heart is working will show up in a blood test, or in a chest X-ray. If your physician suspects that something is wrong with your heart, further tests will determine where the problems lay.
Treatment for Heart Disease
When people are diagnosed with important heart disease risk factors, like high blood pressure or cholesterol, the first course of action is usually lifestyle changes. Patients will be asked to switch up their diet to include more fruit and vegetables, avoid animal products, and exercise for at least 20 minutes a day.
There are also various forms of medical intervention that can be used to improve heart health. One of the most common courses of treatment is taking blood pressure or cholesterol medication. These are chemicals that can dilate your blood vessels to lower their pressure or keep your arteries from getting blocked. Although they can have some unpleasant side effects, taking these medicines is associated with much lower odds of suffering from a heart attack or a stroke.
Some types of heart disease can also be treated with surgery, but this is usually restricted to more extreme cases. When it comes to heart health, prevention is everything. Studies suggesting that CBD could help prevent the most common heart conditions are particularly interesting. But first, let’s have a closer look at what is CBD for heart disease, and how it acts on our bodies.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid compound found in cannabis. Unlike the cannabinoid THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it doesn’t create a “high” when ingested. The effects it has on the body and mind are more subtle, but they can be powerful.
Over recent years, studies have shown that CBD could be useful in treating several conditions, including:
The benefits of CBD stem from its action on the endocannabinoid system in our body. This system is responsible for regulating inflammation, pain, mood and appetite. When cannabinoids like CBD bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system, they can give it a boost. As a result, we experience lower pain, inflammation and anxiety.
Can CBD also help with heart disease? Recent studies show that it could lower blood pressure and prevent heart damage. Here’s what we know on the subject so far.
How can CBD boost heart health?
High blood pressure is one of the most common reasons behind such complications as heart attacks, strokes and coronary heart disease. When tension in your arteries is too high, the blood ends up damaging the inner lining of your blood vessels. As a result, your arteries can stiffen up and become narrower.
Over time, these arteries can struggle to bring blood up to your heart. High blood pressure also puts a strain on your heart, making it work harder just to get the blood flow that it needs. This process usually happens slowly, but over time, it can lead to a heart attack or heart failure.
High blood pressure can also be responsible for blood clots. When a blood clot forms in an artery, it can stop blood flow to the brain, resulting in a stroke. There are various levels of high blood pressure, and most people manage to stay healthy, even if their blood pressure is somewhat elevated.
But if your blood pressure reaches risky levels, it’s time to act. The consequences of high blood pressure are too life-threatening to ignore. Luckily, CBD for heart disease may reduce high blood pressure—almost instantly. In a 2017 study, researchers gave nine healthy men a 600 mg dose of CBD or a placebo.
They found that those who had taken CBD had lower resting blood pressure than the placebo group. Moreover, after a series of “stress tests,” the researchers observed that the blood pressure of the volunteers who had taken CBD didn’t increase. They concluded that the well-known anti-anxiety properties of CBD may be responsible for its beneficial effect on blood pressure.
Another study, conducted in 2010, found that CBD could improve heart health in mice with heart disease. After giving a dose of CBD to a group of mice, researchers observed lower levels of oxidative stress, cell death and inflammation. They even noticed that CBD improved cardiac dysfunction in those animals.
Animal studies are not always useful to understand the effects of a molecule in humans. But when it comes to CBD, we know that it works by affecting the endocannabinoid system, which is the same in humans and mice. While a study like this one doesn’t tell us that CBD will improve cardiac function in humans, it does strongly suggest that it could be useful in treating cardiovascular disorders.
Is CBD safe for heart patients?
The scientists involved in the 2010 study on mice with heart disease highlighted the safety profile of CBD in their conclusion. They suggested that CBD is very well tolerated in humans, which would make it a safe drug for treating cardiovascular disorders.
A 2017 study that reviewed the side effects of CBD through a few different experiments also concluded that it had a “favorable safety profile”. We do know that CBD has the potential to interact with a few different medications. In general, if a prescription drug has a “grapefruit warning,” it’s also advised not to take it alongside CBD.
Except for these potential interactions, CBD rarely causes any dangerous side effects. Some people may have an adverse reaction to it, causing them nausea or changes in appetite. However, these side effects are relatively rare and not life-threatening.
Can I legally buy CBD?
CBD is legal on a federal level in the United States, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. However, it is still prohibited by certain state laws and doesn’t have FDA approval. We encourage you to consult a physician before you start taking CBD.
CBD for heart health—dosage and recommendations
Should you take CBD to boost your heart health? Studies on the topic suggest that it may be very helpful in lowering blood pressure and preventing oxidative stress, cell death and inflammation.
However, heart diseases are very serious. So your first course of action if you think that you may be at risk will be to consult a health specialist. They will be able to run tests to see whether you should start taking any blood pressure or cholesterol medication.
If these medications are compatible with taking CBD, it’s up to you to decide if you want to give it a try. There are a few different ways to consume CBD, including:
- Pure CBD oil
- CBD capsules or edibles
- Vaping CBD e-liquid
Because CBD can cause some adverse reactions in some people, we recommend giving it a try with a low dose, around 5 to 10 mg daily. If you seem to tolerate it well, you can increase the dose progressively.
In the 2017 study that reviewed the effects of CBD on blood pressure, volunteers were given 600 mg of CBD. This is a very high dose and not one that we would recommend for daily use. That being said, only a health professional with some experience of dealing with CBD will be able to advise you on the right dosage for your condition.
CBD is already showing signs of being effective in preventing the world’s biggest killer: heart disease. Recent studies have shown that it can reduce blood pressure, oxidative stress, inflammation and cell death in the heart. All of this suggests that it has serious potential as a treatment for cardiovascular disorders.
As a natural substance with a very good safety profile, CBD could even work as an alternative to traditional blood pressure medicine. It’s still too early to say whether taking regular CBD really lowers the risks of heart attacks and heart disease. However, recent findings are promising for people with a predisposition for these conditions, and we can hope for more research on the subject coming soon.